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Friday, March 27, 2009

.net Democracy

With the Lok Sabha elections around the corner here in India, it looks like parties are taking to advertising online for the first time. Google Ads on several pages showed the iPhone toting Mr. L. K. Advani, (an iPhone.... of all things) against the background of an Indian flag. Of course, the Indian flag was dropped from the background after a few petitions threatened to derail the ad. Youtube is full of campaign videos, and politicians are blogging like there's no tomorrow. (Advani's blog's at If you're not too much of a BJP supporter, then there's the Congress party's website at .

Those in the mood for some funny stuff can check out a blog devoted to Lalu Prasad Yadav at Lalu Leela. Others like Rahul Gandhi, Omar Abdullah and Mallika Sarabhai are active users of Facebook and other social networking sites. The reach of the internet is widespread with net-access ever increasing and the younger generation (a prime target because they're first time voters) keeping in touch with everything via the world wide web and SMS. All this after political parties have seen the power that the Internet brings with it...... particularly in the recent US Presidential elections.

It's not just political propaganda that has gone online though. You've all seen the familiar Jaago Re ad on television. Well, the campaign is aimed at getting more people to register their names onto voting lists and vote on election day. You can register on the Jaago Re website and it'll help you through the process of voter registration. Once you've done that they'll even send you regular updates on SMS about your voter status.

So for all those complaining about how difficult it is to get your name on the lists, get your of your comfy homes and go get your name registered - no excuses this time around.

Another great service is VoteIndia where you can register and choose your location on a map to identify your constituency. Once you've done that, they'll e-mail you information about your local candidates - the political candidates’ qualifications, work, track record and criminal background, everything. Check this site out. Really useful one.

American President Barrack Obama (Blackberry Obama) has taken it a step further when it comes to technology though. He won the right to retain his Blackberry and became the first sitting President to use e-mail on his personal mobile device. The White House website recently had an "Open for Questions" session, where Americans of all walks of life could post questions and have them answered by the President in a virtual town hall (an online video feed). I've put the video here below this post by the way. I wonder whether our next Prime Minister will be doing any online debates or Q&A sessions. ;-) What with Mr. Advani challenging PM Manmohan Singh to a showdown on national television. Things sure are heating up!


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