India Insight

Shashi Tharoor on Congress’ social media plans, digital presence of Gandhis

By Aditya Kalra and David Lalmalsawma

Political parties in India are relying more on social media ahead of the 2014 election as a way of increasing voter support, even though politicians in general do not expect such efforts to influence election results.

India Insight interviewed Shashi Tharoor, minister of state for human resources and one of the earliest adopters of Twitter in Indian politics. Here are edited excerpts of the interview:

Can social media be a game changer in the upcoming general election?
I think it can be a game influencer, but I wouldn’t go beyond that at this stage, because what we are discovering is that you need various ways of reaching out to the electorate, and social media happens to offer an additional way, not a substitute for any of the traditional means of campaigning.

Do you see this as a tool that can help win more votes or is it just a brand-building exercise?
Brand building should help you win more votes, otherwise what’s the point. We are certainly looking at this as one more way of attracting voters and helping change the minds of certain kinds of voters. There is an overall brand-building exercise involved in any use of social media, there is a way of using social media to refute charges or to change or correct a narrative.

(Also read: Social media not a game changer in 2014 elections)

What is the social media strategy ahead of the general election?
A number of workshops are being conducted. So yes, we are trying to educate party workers and party sympathizers who are interested in how to use social media constructively. And frankly, I think it’s already begun in many ways to show an impact.

Arvind Gupta, BJP IT cell head, on party’s social media plans

By Aditya Kalra and David Lalmalsawma

Political parties in India are relying more on social media ahead of the 2014 election as a way of increasing voter support, even though politicians in general do not expect such efforts to significantly influence election results.

India Insight interviewed Arvind Gupta, head of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s IT division, in July about social media and the party’s plans for the elections. Here are edited excerpts:

Why the recent social media push?
It’s not sudden for us. We have been engaged in social media for the last three to four years. It’s been a consistent effort. I think only in the early part of this year, people started realizing that this could be one of the accelerators. I don’t call it a game changer, but an accelerator in this election.

Delhi shaped South Asia’s Muslim identity, Pakistani author says

Raza Rumi is based in Lahore, but the public policy specialist and Friday Times editor’s new book is based in another milieu entirely. “Delhi by heart” is a kind of travelogue about a city that is the source of a shared heritage that spans hundreds of years.

By his own admission, it is a “heartfelt account” of how a Pakistani comes to India, an “enemy country”, and discovers that its capital has, in fact, so many things common with Lahore.

“I wanted to write the biography of Darah Shikoh, the great Indian Mughal prince,” Rumi said. “While researching for that, and while visiting Delhi all the time, I felt really it merits a Pakistani version as well because for these five years we have been so much cut off and we have misunderstood each other so much that it is time to sort of build bridges. Hence the book.”

Markets this week: Sensex gains 2.4 percent; L&T, Tata Power surge

September is turning out to be a good month for Indian shares, as key stock indexes extended gains in the last four sessions. Monday was a market holiday.

The BSE Sensex gained 2.4 percent, while the broader Nifty rose nearly 3 percent as foreign institutional investors (FIIs) extended buying into Indian equities. A recovery in the rupee, which posted its best week in 15 months, also boosted sentiment.

Profit-taking dented markets mid-week as caution also prevailed ahead of a series of macroeconomic events scheduled next week, including August inflation data due on Monday and the likelihood of U.S. Fed’s decision to announce a reduction in its monetary policy stimulus. RBI will review its policy on September 20.

Delhi gang rape verdict: Reactions from people on the street

By Aditya Kalra and Arnika Thakur

Four men were found guilty on Tuesday of the gang rape of a woman on a bus in New Delhi and her murder, closing a chapter on a crime that triggered protests and soul-searching about the treatment of women in India. Arguments on sentencing are due to begin on Wednesday.

(Live coverage of the trial at http://reut.rs/15eIlsb)

Here are some reactions from people on the street:

POOJA SINGH, 21, student, at the Munirka bus stop.
“The girl lost her life, the accused should get a similar punishment.”

JYOTI SHARMA, 21, student
“Even the juvenile should be given life imprisonment. The four adult accused should be hanged. I don’t feel safe anywhere even on a bus stand … I try to reach home before dark”

Bhaskar Rao: the cop with one head and too many hats

Bureaucracy begets comedy as a general rule. The latest example is Bhaskar Rao, a police officer in Karnataka.

As the Deccan Chronicle reported on Aug. 27, Rao, an inspector general of police (IG) responsible for the internal security of the state, is also filling the role of training chief.

This forces him to write letters to himself to seek approval for personnel training programmes.

Outlook weak for India economic growth: analysts

India’s economy grew at 4.4 percent in the June quarter, its slowest rate since the first three months of 2009 and weaker than analysts’ consensus of 4.7 percent in a Reuters poll.

With the rupee still trading near record lows and a ballooning current account deficit alarming investors and policymakers, several investment banks are worried about the road ahead.

Here are some comments on India’s economic growth released by investment banks after the recent GDP data:

from The Human Impact:

How old is old enough to be jailed for gang rape and murder?

The crime was horrific, the case shocking, and the trial long. Yet when the much anticipated first verdict in the high-profile Delhi gang rape case was pronounced in India over the weekend, there was no jubilation, just outrage.

Found guilty of the gang rape and murder of a student on a bus in December, the teenager - one of six accused - was sentenced to three years in a juvenile home, sparking anger and debate over whether India is too soft on its young offenders. Four adult defendants are on trial in a separate fast-track court. One of the accused committed suicide in jail.

The first reaction came from the parents of the dead 23-year-old student, who was beaten, tortured with an iron rod and raped on the night of Dec. 16 before being dumped on a roadside in the capital.

Sensex loses 3.75 percent in action-packed month

The BSE Sensex lost 3.75 percent in August, its worst monthly performance since February, as worries over foreign outflows were exacerbated by the rupee that fell to record lows.

India’s current account deficit and a struggling economy still worry market participants.  Data showed on Aug. 31 that June quarter GDP grew at 4.4 percent, below analysts’ estimates.

The rupee recovered in the last few trading sessions of the month, closing around 65.75 per dollar after falling to a life low below 68. Still, the unit lost 8.1 percent in August, its biggest monthly fall since at least 1995.

Need good roles but need money too: Manoj Bajpayee

In a career spanning nearly 20 years, actor Manoj Bajpayee has oscillated between brilliant and mediocre performances, winning acting honours while also getting brickbats for his poor choice of movie roles.

Bajpayee, whose performance in “Gangs of Wasseypur” (2012) and “Special 26” this year won him critical acclaim, plays the villain in Prakash Jha’s “Satyagraha”. The Bollywood film opened in cinemas on Friday.

The 44-year-old actor spoke to Reuters about how he nearly wrecked his movie career, the time when he had no work and why he is no longer content with just good roles.

  •