On NDTV: All icing, no cake

The Prime Minister’s Office is on Twitter. Good. But what about the rest?

On NDTV’s Trending This Week show Shashi Tharoor, L Rajagopalan and I spoke to Sunetra Choudhry about the Prime Minister’ Office entering the fray on Twitter (as @PMOIndia). The points I made (or tried to):

1. This is the Prime Minister’s Office that is tweeting and not Manmohan Singh the person.

2. We should welcome it for two reasons: First, the PMO is not ceding or absenting itself from an important space in public discourse. Second, that it sets a precedent for the rest of government—across all levels, across the country—that Twitter is a legitimate place for it to put out information. “Don’t wait for an RTI application before you release information, you can do it proactively on a timely basis.”

3. However, Twitter is only a part of an overall information strategy and complements media appearances, press conferences, public speeches, online content and blog posts. Since Prime Minister Singh has been conspicuous by is absence on this front, merely being on Twitter is the icing without the cake.

4. You can’t govern a country of a billion people by remaining silent.

5. The median age of an Indian is less than 29 years, which means half the population is below this age. It is important for the government to engage them. If the tweets are boring, rehashes of press releases (or worse, approved by a committee,) the PMO might look like a middle-aged uncle turning up at a teenagers’ party pretending to be cool.

Related Links:
My on the “rise of netions” at MEA’s Public Diplomacy Conference 2010; my Shala talk on radically networked societies; and Business Standard column.

What’s Left?

Not respect for the office of Prime Minister. Not even courtesy

The Communists didn’t even wait for the Prime Minister to come back from his trip to Toyako, where he is meeting G8 leaders. They just pulled the rug. And that should be the least bit surprising. A bunch of people who never cared about India’s substantive interests can hardly be expected to care for symbolism.

Elections can’t be all that far away. It should now remain for the Indian voter to give the Communists the drubbing they deserve. Somewhere, one of history’s dustbins is waiting for them.