Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Know Why You Are On Social Media

In my view, there are two kinds of social media users.

The first group comprises of those who are enthusiasts enjoying Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others.Let's call them Social Media Enthusiasts.

The second group is a bit more serious one. It consists of Social Media Activists. These are the folks who generate serious content, trends, work towards a common goal (mostly), take on challenges from the opposing ideology etc. In short, the "workers", who have have a fairly passionate goal. In majority of the cases, these 'worker bees' won't be paid, but they still do this activism because it is important to their heart.

No one knows what percentage of Twitter or Facebook users belong to the second category. My best guess is that it could be around 20%. Because the majority of those who use their computers and mobiles, usually do for study, news gathering, communicating or entertainment.

Let's focus on the second group, the Social Media Activists:

I am going to take up an example which is very familiar to me. In India, there's a huge pool of Twitter and Facebook users, who are frustrated with the corruption and lack of growth, due to outdated socialistic policies of a particular dynasty headed party. So, they are indulging in a fairly serious campaign on the social media, to remove the corrupt regime and instill a relatively corruption free, progressive and fast developing India. Without getting into personalities involved here, that sums up what I call, a "Pro-Hindu, Pro-Bharatiya" social media group. They have deep passion in particular for their fellow Hindus, their society at-large and the overall good of their nation.

I am sure most people who are in this group, depicted in the diagram above as green small arrows, know their overall goal. But what's missing here is the cohesion. They miss out the boundary separating their individual heterogeneous behaviour to a team play necessary in the homogeneous format. That creates differences. Sometimes it could be over their focus on Dharma aspects, sometimes over engagement with media houses and sometimes over political movements within their broader ideological umbrella. The list is endless.

So how do we handle differences? It needs some broad set of rules which will guarantee individual enthusiasm in using social media, while the common alignment needed to achieve their collective goal.

Here are some rules that I propose:

1) Do not lose your cool when provoked.
You are here on Twitter or Facebook to have fun. Your time is precious. Your resources used like time and money are precious. Don't waste it by unnecessarily indulging in personal fights or mudslinging. Yes, "eeth ka jawab pathhar se" (Reply with a rock when provoked with a brick) sounds adrenaline pumping, but if you do it too often, it's a vicious cycle drowning sane voices.

There are people specifically on the social media to provoke you. They have their own agenda. Don't fall into their trap.

2) Do not abuse:
No matter how grave the issue is, no matter how justified you think that you need to swear, go very easy on hurling abuses. Best thing is to never abuse anyone's family, caste, religion, language, sex etc. But if you lose cool occasionally, try to correct your path. Apologize openly if necessary. There's no ego involved here as abuse is never justified. Abuse is always relative as for one person even calling 'idiot' might be an abuse. So you position your own comfort level, but always watch for reactions. You can fine tune the line between criticism and abuse.

3) Do not try to control other like minded people - Try to convince.
This is one side effect of considering someone as your "friend" on social media. You might have interacted online or offline or both with that person. You have great trust on that person. Suddenly, when the person does something, like raising a viewpoint that is totally uncomfortable for you, try to convince them. Do not try to force your way, as you will eventually lose. If the person says he likes meat and if you are a strong advocate of vegetarianism, try to convince or compromise. You are no-one to force that person to not speak about meat recipes. If the person is invited as a guest to a particular corporate house, which you strongly disapprove, explain why he/she must not attend, rather than trying to bulldoze.

4) Do not try any boycott.
Another big mistake by emotional folks. There are group efforts to boycott some nations, some corporations, some papers, some ideology or some public figures. It could even be an angry campaign against your former online "friend"! Go back and look at your common goal in the picture above. By advocating boycott, you will most likely mobilize only a small group within that big heterogeneous team.  It's not easy and most likely you will fail. If you have enough impact on the groups, eventually the boycott may happen in other ways, but it takes a sustained campaign and very tough to implement. If you just can't take a person, just disengage, instead of trying for a mass boycott. Know your limits.

5) Do not let your differences break the group:
Know your opponents and your overall goals. If you want to reform your society, bring in new & capable leaders, end the vicious cycle of failures, you need to work really hard as a team. There would be a very concentrated fight back from your opponents, who know why you are here. Your online campaign is making them uncomfortable. They want all tricks in the book to break your team or group. Hence, do NOT let them break up your precious network. Your opponents are much bigger, hugely funded and powerful mainstream entities. Co-opt when necessary and expose where necessary.

Know where you should agree to disagree. Individual freedom and the collective group goal are two things which needs to be addressed. If you develop enough closeness with your online friend(s), you would have shared phone numbers by now. So talk things through offline. Have in-person meetings in your cities when required to re-energize the collective goal. The more cracks that are visible in your group to your opponent, the more they will exploit those fault lines. "Divide and Rule" is something that we are all familiar with, and your cracks are invitation for your opponents to use the same policy yet again. Worse, the casual social media enthusiasts will get either confused or get swayed away from you, if they see serious infighting among yourselves.

At the end, your social network activism will fail if you are divided and fighting among yourselves. And that's exactly what those in the position of power and those who want to censor or shut freedom of expression, want. Don't fall into their hands so easily. Social media is a great equalizer and even a bigger game changer. Treasure its power and achieve your collective goal!

{Credit: Parts of the illustrative picture was picked from socialpsychology.org, top10hitz.com and dil-ke-colour-pencil-se.blogspot}

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dear Karnataka BJP Campaigner, Read This First...

It's exactly 1 month from now, for the voting morning in Karnataka.

So many of you are supporting BJP and many of you are thinking it is a gone case for BJP in 2013. This letter is for those who support BJP, but are low on morale on how to tackle so much negative publicity about BJP's internal bickering since 2008. Even if you have written off BJP from 2013 polls, read this, so that you have an idea of what really was the case when it comes to positive development in Karnataka. This letter is not a manifesto or 200 page PDF, but just gives you enough information to research further. But more importantly, will help you realize that BJP government in Karnataka between 2008 and 2013, was not at all bad.. in fact, it was one of the best development period the state has seen in a long time!

If you are a person interested in campaigning or commenting about political events at the state, use these twelve strategies. I am giving them out openly, so that you rivals can also read and slow down a bit on negative publicity :)

Strategy 1: Talk about Public Transport a lot: 

BMTC Main Bus Stand - Bengaluru {Pic: Skyscrapercity}
Easily Karnataka has one of the best, if not THE best bus service today. Amazingly useful & successful tries in public transport. International UITP-ITF award for the best innovation in public transport. The list of awards runs into pages! 10,229 new buses added to fleet, 93 new bus stations with all amenities were constructed. Dozens of crispy clean TTMCs are in place. The number of underpasses and fly overs built for traffic congestion removal are phenomenal. Alternative fuel usage in more than 2000 buses won the Golden Peacock Eco-Innovation award. Mention Bus day's great success which other cities have started copying now. Talk extensively about environmental projects in commercial establishment to reach out to the middle class Eco conscious voter.

Catch: KSRTC and BMTC were always "good" some will say. Show them the balance sheets and how they turned profitable big time during BJP rule.

Strategy 2: Connect with the Computer Literate:

e and m governance successes in Karnataka. {Pic: Medianama}

Talk lots of numbers about the awards and rewards for the e-governance projects. The national e-governance award for introducing Panchatantra software is a starting point. In the knowledge capital of India, Bengaluru, you need to connect with people who understand software. So e and m governance details, that too the unique aspects in India, must he highlighted.

BJP has given great governance, because the citizen guarantee time scheme, "Sakala" has processed more than 1,50,00,000 applications ON time! India's BEST government response guaranteed scheme! Every speech in every district must cover this.

Catch: "What's new here? Many states have it" they might say. Question them to show a Sakala equivalent in any state today, at that level of success.

 Strategy 3: Highlight the Rural Project Successes:

Talk about rural projects, in simple language that people understand in. For instance, campaign in the key North Karnataka districts should focus on the local awards & rewards: Dharwad, Belagavi & Gulbarga districts received the national awards for successful implementation of NREGA Program. Give credit to the center, but also show that implementation matters.

No government in India, in ANY state, had the courage to bring out a separate Agricultural Budget for the farmers since 1950. This commitment of BJP for the farmers' welfare made sure that 'Jai Kisan' was not just a mere slogan. 10s of 1000s of crores of real money in useful projects like organic farming.

Catch: Some old events like Farmer shooting, or floods, or droughts will be brought up. Just compare farmer issues of neighbours, particularly Maharashtra after that state's massive irrigation scam induced drought. 

Strategy 4: Metro, Metro and Metro:
Namma Metro with Vidhana Soudha in background. {Pic: IOSMW}

Highlight the Metro project as a separate topic. Bengaluru's Namma Metro is a success story very different from any urban train project in India. Unlike the Kolkata and Dilli projects, this was very much a state government effort, with less than half of support from the center. Compare Bengaluru with Mumbai & Hyderabad. The Metro train project planned at almost at the same time for all the three cities, but the latter two cities are still "building". That's purely because of Congress' misrule in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Bengaluru is almost ready with the next phases being inaugurated, while the other two cities are no-where closer to the first phase! Here highlight that work speed during BJP governance.

Catch: This had UPA's money. This was SM Krishna's time start etc. etc. But ask them, why Mumbai and Hyderabad failed so badly? Ask them what was Metro's percentage completion in 2008 when BJP came to power in Karnataka?

Strategy 5: Expose Congress and Others:

SR Hiremath exposing Mining Loot by  Congress. {Pic: Bharat NC}

Do not succumb to paid media's targeting of BJP. Talk about the details presented in the Supreme Court and other places, by the famous anti-corruption crusader SR Hiremath. Unlike the biased Santosh Hegde, Hiremath has clearly exposed that SM Krishna of Congress was the grand daddy of illegal mining. He has then declared a battle against the senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar's illegal mining exports. Also, bring in JDS' mining black phase involving HD Kumaraswamy. While Congress and paid media jumped on 'Yeddy-Reddy', they never told the people that Janardhana Reddy confessed to CBI of financing the late Congress CM of Andhra Pradesh, YS Rajasekhara Reddy. Ask openly, what was Congress' relation with Reddy brothers in Andhra Pradesh? What was Brahmani industry all about? Why did YSR share stage with Reddy brothers offering them all assistance in AP? What relations Ballary's brothers have with now jailed Andhra CM's son Jagan Reddy?

Catch: Reddy brothers topic is always the hot topic for Congress. Show them some explosive details from my earlier blog in 2011 -> http://kiranasis.blogspot.in/2011/09/reddy-brothers-and-andhra-pradesh.html

Strategy 6: Don't shy away from talking about Ballary, but show the current clean image of BJP:

Also, for those living in Yeddy-Reddy era. Both Yeddyurappa and Reddy are both non entities in BJP now. Also the so-called 'tainted' Ballary was Sonia Gandhi's first MP seat not so long ago. If Ballary had mine-mafia money, then ask who sponsored her election win there? Were there no mine barons campaigning for Congress?

Catch: Openly admit that BJP made some mistakes. Now look forward to 2013 and show them the current leadership starting with Shettar, Joshi, S Gowda etc. Compare with 3 CM period of Congress in early 1990s.

Strategy 7: It's the Economy, Stupid!

Two massive GIMs during BJP govt. {Pic: Skyscrapercity}

Budget: In 2007-08, the budget receipts in Karnataka were Rs.40762 crores. By 2013-14 the receipts grew to Rs.1,15,983 crores plus Rs.22,310 separate agriculture budget. That's a stellar 239% growth under BJP! When economy grows, everything else is taken care of. Why not highlight this systematically? The development expenditure increased in Karnataka from Rs. 27,009 crores in 2008-09 to Rs 77,383 crores in 2013-14. A whopping 186% increase. What else is more important for the state than development and substantial increase in the economy? Political bickering, however irritating it might be, should take a second seat in highlighting, when economy has such great news to talk about.

Catch: Implementation rate of GIM will be brought up. Show them nominal success rates of other states and the effect of mining ban on certain projects.

Strategy 8: Hit back on Congress' weak points:

Kureel's cartoon summing up "Porn" hypocrisy. {Pic: Indologygoa.WP}
About Congress' attack on BJP for 'porn' in the assembly, which finally got closed as a non-issue. How come BJP does not raise Abhishek Manu Singhvi's nationally talked about 'pants down in court premises' scandal? Why leave out ND 'DNA' Tiwari's Raj Bhavan episodes? Why not tell the voters about what kind of illustrative 'CD' sagas Rajasthan's Maderna has displayed? After all Singhvi & co are still the role models for that party :)

The same way, the so called secular Congress is planning to build a university for Muslims, with public tax money (unconstitutional most likely), that too under a mass murdering fanatic Tipu Sultan's name. Attack that totally communal votebank policy of Congress. And this party calls BJP "communal"? Expose them.

Why middle class is so confused about BJP? Because of the negative publicity. And who were the key players in that negative publicity? A self-proclaimed "Congressman" governor Bharadwaj who was infamous for protecting Bofors thieves, 'Bofors' Quatrocchi's son who lived in Bengaluru, SM Krishna's SIL who allegedly sponsored some rebel resort politics of BJP, the seriously biased Santosh Hegde whose junk mining report got flushed at Karnataka High Court and of course the media which only had an agenda against Yeddyurappa when he was the CM, but not against other ex-CMs. For instance, Congress and the so called 'Paid' media never told you that Jindal group that alleged bribed the ex-BJP CM BS Yeddyurappa, was owned by a famous Congress political family! Why downplay that very important point?

Catch: Don't be defensive trying to deny any BJP's misdoings. They did do mistakes. But contrast with the humungous scams of UPA lead Congress and the role models that exist in Congress, like Ibrahim (whose name was in a Rape FIR), Singhvi (see cartoon above) to name a few.

Strategy 9: Highlight the very good Law and Order:

Under the BJP rule, Karnataka had ZERO major riots. In fact there was not even a single riot that had more than 5 deaths. Compare that to Congress era when the 1991 anti-Tamil riots and the 1994 anti-Urdu riots saw dozens of deaths. Communal harmony and security for all citizen has been a total success under BJP. Did you see any Home Minister of India visiting the distant Asom and other NE states, to invite the panic stuck youth to return back to their state, after that SMS scare was engineered by malicious elements?

Talk about respect for the nation. BJP government gave respect to the soldiers of India, via the Martyrs Memorial. Gave 50% property tax relief to soldiers irrespective of state. These are the desh bhakti topics that need highlighting.

Catch: People will talk of Mangaluru incidents or Church attacks. Show them the incidents from SM Krishna's time. Show them how BJP acted swiftly here.

Strategy 10: Tell the people the mistakes of prior governments:

Congress & JDS simply blamed BJP for their earlier governments' faults. For instance the garbage crisis of 2012 was mainly  because Congress and JDS didn't follow Supreme Court deadlines during their rule. As a result, the minimum 2 KM 'no activity' near garbage dump got reduced to 0.5 KM, which then encouraged real estate mafia to put pressure against garbage dumps around the city. Also, when BBMP was expanded by absorbing all the Corporations of that time, no planning was put in place for a much bigger metro city's garbage disposals. BJP did a decent enough job, but could have done better.

Catch: No matter what you show, BBMP will be highlighted. But tell them the limitations of BBMP in a massive sized Bengaluru today. Show traffic, people and other growths from 2008 to 2013. Things can be better, but they are not as bad as made out.

Strategy 11: Talk about Power Handling:
National award for the Varahi implementation. {Pic: KarnatakaPower}

Karnataka also faced massive drought during some BJP years. But still, unlike the much worse situation in the neighbouring Congress ruled Maharashtra, BJP govt brought down the farmer suicides in Karnataka. From 956 between 2008-10 (more than 300 per year), to 38 in 2011 and single digit in 2012! That is an awesome achievement that should be highlighted and contrasted with neighbouring Congress ruled states. Similarly, explain the good-enough coverage of power situation in Karnataka, compared to Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh. In Congress ruled AP for instance, 6000 units in textile, steel & ferro alloy sectors are closed over the past 18 months. 2,00,000 became jobless. All due to Congress government's power crisis mismanagement. In contrast, during the past 5 years, Rs.14,751 crores were invested in the power sector by BJP government in Karnataka. These will result in massive benefits down the line. Even when Raichur themal power plant did not get coal properly from the central Congress government, Karnataka did not run into any major power crisis. In fact, more industries came through during this period.

Catch: Rural power cut will be brought up. Show them average power given from central grid to Karnataka. Contrast with Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh. Then show how well Karnataka still manages with less power.

Strategy 12:  Highlight the fact that Congress is going to doom Karnataka.

This is nothing new. Congress has done it many times before too. Vote for BJP to save Karnataka from the alleged CSR scam tainted Moily, the Telgi scam tainted Kharge, the mining scam tainted SM Krishna and DK Shiva Kumar, to name a few. On top of it, see how the infighting is going on between Parameshwar the Congress state president and Siddaramaiah, the state Congress legislative party leader. Their bickering and fights between seat lobby teams is all out in open. Worse, Congress can't project a CM candidate under any cost before the election, as infighting will doom the party! BJP in contrast has a firm CM candidate for months. Other parties like KJP, BRSCP and JDS are "atakkuntu lekkakke illa" when it comes to power. They can at the most think of 30-40 seats for king-maker roles, but never the king. Don't waste time going after them, particularly Yeddyurappa's KJP. It won't help BJP in any way. Remember, your opponent is
Congress primarily, and the lack of discipline shown between 2008-11 by BJP itself, secondarily.

Catch: That leader is corrupt, this leader is corrupt, will come up. But what you need to do is to compare the extent of alleged corruption or scam. The lesser evil is always a better choice, which is BJP in this case. Then if ULB election topic comes up, compare with 2007 there too.


Remember, BJP had a much better chance to be in stronger position by April 2013, than where they are today. But still, all is not lost. Give your best shot. You never know, you can get 90 or more seats in May! The main reason being, the other choices in front of Karnataka voters are much more depressing and awful. A CM candidate-less Congress and a bunch of regional outfits.