How Digital India Can Celebrate The Spirit Of Republic Day

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This Republic Day, along with the Constitution, let us celebrate three more Cs of communication, content and connectivity - areas where social media has played a pivotal role to engrain the true spirit of being a Republic among modern Indians.

On this 26th day of January, India will celebrate 68 years of being a nation that ensures certain fundamental rights to everyone while expecting them to perform specific duties, bound by a few pages of a document deeply revered by the nation - our Constitution. A famous song by Rabindranath Tagore aptly proclaimed the way a democracy should function, where every citizen would feel free and be the maker of his/her own destiny, yet joining shoulders with each other and supporting an overarching framework to achieve goals for collective progress. This 69th Republic Day, India promises to keep striding ahead on this path, ably assisted by social media.

The history of India’s independence is riddled with instances when the shared consciousness of people has resulted in huge social transformations. However, in the last decade or so, none of the tools have proven powerful enough to initiate this process other than social media platforms. The proliferation of smartphones has given a strong boost to the number of Indians on social media platforms. We have even managed to create our own social media platforms such as Roposo that identify themselves as created for and provided by Indian users, thereby being a symbol of the true democratisation happening in the Indian social media space. This Republic Day, along with the Constitution, let us celebrate three more Cs of communication, content and connectivity - areas where social media has played a pivotal role to engrain the true spirit of being a Republic among modern Indians.

Communication - Opening up, one comment at a time

Indians have always been socially active, with our interactions during numerous festivals, familial occasions or chance roadside meetings turning into long conversations, often joined by many others. However, the interactions often restricted themselves to social niceties or shallow discussions without much scope for real opinions to be expressed and shared. This is where social media comes in. It has endeared itself to Indians in a hitherto unseen manner, helping us to open up considerably and connect with each other on a deeper plane.

Rewind the clock to even a decade ago and large family gatherings would often spread out into clusters of like-minded, and in most cases, similar-aged people. Everyone was preaching to a choir, and there was no hope of a true, spirited discussion taking place as people would only agree to each other’s opinions, having gone through similar experiences or having looked at a particular situation with an identical perspective.  

Cut to 2018. Long social media chats, with numerous participants, discuss every burning issue, with intense opinions backed by personal experiences or documented insights. On closer inspection, however, it is revealed that these participants cut across various demographics, regions, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, etc. Yet, all of them have descended upon a common platform, thereby enriching a discussion immensely and developing a close understanding of how others think. While even 10 years earlier, an average Indian felt uneasy discussing certain topics with their elders, these days, every issue is talked upon extensively on social media between people of varying age groups, with sprinkles of ROFLs, LOLs and IMOs thrown in between.

Content-From regressive to progressive

With great quality content, both from national as well as international sources, making its way to the screens of Indian users, their tastes and preferences are undergoing a massive change. Gone are the days when Indian audiences gulped down whatever was on offer through cinema, TV, radio, etc. These days, an Indian internet user has been empowered with an infinite assortment of content to choose from, thus allowing him/her to develop a unique taste and follow artists and channels that provide such content. This has also forced the content providers to sit up and take notice. Quality of content, and not lavish sets, big stars or huge marketing campaigns, has assumed paramount importance and emerged as the most important parameter of determining the success of these providers.

From virtual trends to news stories, every social phenomenon reaches both rural as well as urban India simultaneously. A threshold that was too big to cross, as many politicians used to say earlier, has been bridged by the all-pervasive thread of social media. As smartphones penetrate further in rural hinterlands, costs of data consumption go down and digital infrastructure increases in strength, quality and scope, this connection is set to grow wider. This phenomenon has also transformed the psychology of the people of rural India, who earlier thought of migrating to urban areas as their only hope of surviving with integrity. Now, however, they feel much more empowered in the natural wealth and the calm spirit of their village lives, boosted by the knowledge that these are traits people of cities seek constantly in their daily life.

There is, however, a long way to go as age-old thought structures such as caste, religion, hate politics still bind the Indian spirit from truly exploding out and realising its optimum potential. This Republic Day, let us hope that India manages to break these shackles soon, and holding the hands of social media, initiates a revolution that truly realises the vision those revered policymakers had of their country when they signed their names on the hallowed pages of our Constitution, the guardian angel of the world’s largest democracy.