Technology played a crucial role in winning Barack Obama his first, and securing his second term as US President. With that, I think it was evident that a capable leader and change maker must have the power of new age technology and media on his or her side, to connect with the constantly changing and eternally curious new-age citizen.
Back home, while most political parties and politicians have funds enough to bail out small European countries, few have new age tech on their side. Most, if not all parties, have been channeling their energies and efforts towards luring the masses with quick fix incentives, little carrots, so to speak. It makes it easier for them to secure the adequate numbers, instead of having to showcase their capabilities before well-educated and probing audiences.
But with the internet and smart phones finding their way through the obscure terrain quicker than electricity, clean water and government schemes ever could, it is just a matter of time before focus shifts from using public or personal funds to bribe voters with television sets or cars to win votes. The need for politicians then, would be to prove their track record and showcase their abilities to an aware and well-informed voter base via a medium of technology that the voter prefers.
Currently, Narendra Modi of the BJP seems to be the only strong contender for the PM seat who has the ability to pull off a campaign that is riding on technology. Be it his awareness of trending topics globally, the presence of a tech team backing his election campaign, or his Guinness World Record creating 3D interaction across 53 locations, he definitely is doing it right on the tech front. His plan to analyze an estimated 140 mn Indian mobile internet users by 2014, or his strategy to target a very small but distinct base of key influencers instead of going after the herd, shows a well-thought out tactical approach to election management,
Modi has managed to impress a lot of us with his awareness, future-looking and progressive India oriented thinking, his ability to walk the talk, and the innumerable developments across several fronts in the state of Gujarat; thus making him a compelling contender for the big post. But the occasional allegations against him show that he too has his share of skeletons in the closet. And unlike the United States, where two of the best candidates distill to the top of its two political parties, the Indian scenario is relatively much more complex. And while I am fairly clueless about the political scene in the country, the in-fighting within the numerous political parties, multiple potential candidates, each with their own agenda; the mess is all too evident to miss, even by the uninterested.
What the 2014 elections will bring to our battered economy and scam-riddled reputation, only 2014 will tell. But the way I see it, it is clear that technology brings with it, forward-looking supporters and change-makers. So, while it might be easy for primitive-minded politicians and parties to hire tech teams at any cost to bring them up to speed with the likes of Modi, only a good leader who doesn’t look at technology with hostility, will be able to take the country forward.
And sooner or later, such an ideal and capable leader will emerge, wisely using technology as an enabler, to shine through the herd, and to gain the trust of disillusioned citizens by constantly staying connected with them. And as long as India produces such leaders, we still have hope.