Social Media has provided a new platform for social interaction. This has led to different outcomes in different regions. While in America and Europe it has blossomed into as social-pop culture saloon, in Middle-East it led to Arabian Spring. This opening up of society to air one’s thoughts freely and finding like-minded people across village and globe has weakened rigid and unresponsive states. More important development is in societies. Societies that depend upon commandments and laws are in an increasingly awkward position. Open and argumentative societies have an advantage here. It provides them an opportunity to showcase and engage with others on those values that have innate and more universal appeal, the real soft power of states.
The social media in India has been a much awaited corrective apparatus to many. The dominant power structure kept a well oiled network of efficient gatekeepers which enjoying all benefits of vicinity of power claimed to be the moral conscience keepers. This class comprising of media, intellectuals, academicians and Godmen have lost their pre-eminent status. Many renowned journalists, intellectuals who rarely deigned to answer common people are asked hard questions and ridiculed publically for wrongdoings.
With increasing openness offered by social media, it is not possible to make positive or negative wave against some public figure. People are no more afraid to speak up their mind. This is generating new confidence among people. It is democratizing people and making governments more responsive. If you look at the current Government of India you shall find that prime minster and his cabinet and even officials are opening this as a channel. This is growing despite occasional gaffes. Previously it was easy to manage public opinion and perception hiring some media expert. Today, despite claims of such pundits, it is becoming increasingly thorny. Today, you can not manage or appease a particular group without antagonizing the others! Your one misstep can question your integrity. In July prime minister of India in Man ki Baat program commented that 70-80 percent of Gau rakshaks (Cow rescue volunteers) are hoodlums. This comment invited such a hard reaction across the country and world that next day the prime minister had to clarify the stand in Telangana by saying that fake Gau Rakshaks are bringing bad name to genuine ones. This was not possible years ago.
Another advantage with the social media is its ‘ever present’ time frame. Here is no limitation of space, time or causation! The moment you connect, you are ‘in’. This is no mean achievement because as we see on mediums like twitter this time frame keep a positive stress upon all concerned persons.
Social media as a platform has rekindled interest about religion, tradition, history, identities and philosophies and brought them out of bookshelves into the public sphere. The number of discussion threads on various topics concerning dharma in practice is mind boggling. The increasing number of blogs, websites and groups on Sanatana dharma and its various ancillaries is continuously increasing. Works of top scholars are easily available on an interaction friendly medium today. This is creating new communities across globe. Though there is need to connect more practitioners to this field.
I have found Hindus most open to discuss religion and philosophy with all its limitations and faults. I have been watching this category in cyberspace for more than a decade. Today I find a qualitative improvement in the discussions and their contributions. The seminal works of Rajeev Malhotra, S N Gangadhara, Bhagwan Singh, Srikant Talegeri, Sitaram Goyal, RamSwaroop, Dharmapal, Arun Shourie etc. is contributing to creation of new well informed Sanatani to take the world in his stride. I am pretty sure that social media, which as a tool is much abused by base and sense gratification worshipping people will be used quite creatively by Sanatana Dharmis. Of course, this is in rudimentary stage today and a lot more daunting challenge would be to revive the true practicing Dharmic value universe in the realm of polity and society, the start is encouraging.
[Click : Anurag Vats]