Friday, January 3, 2014

The Ballot Battle....

"Dad, give me a short and crisp account of the voting scenario in India, how the trends have been, who's leading and by what margin, who should ideally rule the country.....and please please keep it short" - The 'nonchalance' spoke.

"Why this sudden intrusiveness? I did try to drag you to the voting booth...you never reciprocated...." - It goes without saying that dad was quite startled at this sudden 'burst of breviloquent interrogation'.

"Dad, I JUST want to know why is these hashtags #UPA3, #PMPressMeet, Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi and #AAP trending on twitter today...could you PLEASE throw some light? - The cretinous teen sounded desperate for the first time.

The Ballot Battle: The Modern Day scenario, the typical laid back (youth) mindset...
"I am oblivious about the twitter trends, but I certainly know that this country is heading no-where, especially when the youth believes in adopting to shortcuts....." - Dad did manage to hit those right marks with this statement. Shortcut is a momentary redemption.

"Dad!!! Please, not today...I already in a soup seeing such a tweet-centric-comparison-stitched-by @AdvancedMaushi - 'Press Guy: Why is Alok Nath trending on twitter? MMS: It will be disastrous to have Modi as PM' ...I really don't understand the mentality" - The 'in-cognizance' spoke.

"So this is the only tweet that you read? Didn't you shuffle through today's newspaper that depicted quite a sweeping perspective with the headlines - Query for query, AAP crosses the first hurdle...that actually spoke about Kejriwal's 'Common man' centric speech? I bet you didn't"- Dad was right on the money yet again. The Generation X, as the apt coronation reads, is more concerned about the twisted face of reality, than the backbone itself.

"On come on dad, I decided to send in a campy tweet like 'Kya AAP ke toothpaste me namak hai' but then, somebody retweeted the same quoting Gandhi-ji's reference. I mean what is wrong with the democrats?" - There again, the logical disconnect reflected out of his shielding statement.

"Hahaha, hilarious really! You people know how to snatch that bit of 'gravity' out of every discussion...have you read about Jaitley's point of view? What is this scrutiny all about? And of course do you have a crystal clear viewpoint of the concept that revolves around 'People's Democracy'? You did use the word democrat alright...." - It was very evident that every possible word was being analysed.

"Dad!! Come on...I did read out the Indian Express' opinion that said that AAP's achievements in Delhi are remarkable,but not unusual or unprecedented as they are being made out to be...I am not that ignorant and in-fact I have read all those columns which say that there is a looming change in the air....." - The statement was as callow in sync with his 'technical infancy' ...it was pretty much evident that whatever he said was either inveigled or swayed. Such shallow levels of 'expertise' is pernicious, perhaps inadvertence is a better prospect. Make no mistake, the youth, yes my friend... is the harbinger, they are ones to take the legacy forward, they are ones with fresh, undaunted ideas...they are the ones who could raise their voice for a cause to eradicate the last bit of nepotism and venality from the face of the humanity. They cannot, simply cannot, sit back and relax.

"If you are so responsive with respect to this 'balloting exercise', why on Earth didn't you VOTE?" - Yes, dad was right, it's equally important to be a "Doer" and of course, not merely a 'Thinker' or even a "Speaker". Implementation has to follow.

Voter analysis: Courtesy
"It was a match day dad, and you know how much I love the sport...Ashes, Australia Vs England, I could just let it go; and how does a solitary vote matter? There would thousands of votes heading off to one direction, how does my single vote count? It can't change the result drastically." - Arrogance reflected through the reciprocation, that is one typical youth-centric-idiosyncrasy alright...but argumentation? Well, it's a complete void.

"Well yes, of course...there is a difference between advocacy and audacity...you know what, this is the only reason why there's such low impetus on teen-votes, if I use this term. And considering the fact that your cricket match is of more importance that exercising your own right, I am sure lamenting at a later stage won't be of much use....and BY THE WAY, I thought that you people had 'shortcuts' in this direction as well, these shortcuts should be efficacious, isn't it?" -Pearls of wisdom indeed. He had a bright effulgence in his eyes...yes, it not just a mere denunciation, he had new-flanged ideas....there was 'zing' in his voice.

"Dad, what do you mean? Are you talking about leveraging technology in enhancing the sophistication of the process? Please tell me more about it....it's to help me immensely in the XAT examination, the essay and current affairs to be precise...." - This is, he made more sense though..but again, the outcome driven psyche expressed itself predominantly. The information-seeking tendency is more of a 'need' rather than 'will'. Sigh.

"Haha! There's my boy! But since you brought the XAT examination into the picture, let me tell you, the main reason why they included the general awareness section along-side vocabulary, decision-making and maths is because of a bitter experience back in 2008 I presume....almost 80 percent of the PI qualified candidates didn't have any idea of the socio-economic-and-political scenario of the country...leave aside the 'developing a point-of-view' aspect. Using a voter's id card merely for the purpose of authentication is really ignominious. And yes, since mentioned technology, yes, why not? When the smartphone or the sleek tablet has become such an intrinsic part of your life....why not get a push-and-vote option embedded in there? - The 'techie-essence' was emulating indeed...dad has been an application developer for the last 5 years or so, he is always on the look out, tickling the compass....figuring out complex algorithms to make it 'simpler' for us. He has even devised a self-controlled security system at home garnished with the sophisticated micro-controllers that triggers an alarm right on-to our mobile phones whenever there's alien infiltration; leveraging mobile technology has been the crux of his research as well. In short, a genius!

The Ballot Battle: The envisaged m-Voting centric view-points...the salient features...
"But do you think these applications would be safe and secure? Hackers have taken it to another level these days, don't you think that forging could be easier with such third party softwares or applications coming into the picture? What about the network dependency? Don't you think that a parallel system would, in turn complicate the existing scenario as well...there has to be a sufficient capacity building cum change management exercise to actually make it happen?" - Again...an array of questions thrown in, inquisitive and probing..but the point is, it is really too early to ask them. The base or the 'basis' is still to be laid. We have been talking about robotic drones, line followers, online payments, e-Governance, m-Governance...but voting through an application? Does that sound ludicrous? Well, the initial dissent shouldn't be much of a hitch. time's gonna heal.

Social Mobile Apps to facilitate Voting: That's the WeChat Mobile Application interface
"Ah!! Slow down...at the onset, tell me, how many of your 'cricket frenzy' community members haven't voted? I guess there's an immediate need to correspond...to stimulate, to enlighten, to inculcate....and this, should be start from a personal level. The government laid change management plans might take ages to spread the message. Why don't you use the 'drift bottle' instead? That could be the perfect way infuse the vibe...the 'sea of possibilities' would definitely transport your memorandum...irrespective of the geographic boundaries. Sounds cool isn't it?" - It did sound very cool indeed. The gentleman had almost taken it to another level, a true tech-geek to be honest...it had enough of logic and enough of rationale behind it, the level of awareness towards the 'ultra-modern gadgets' was impeccable. And why not? You have to adapt to the change!

Social Mobile Apps to facilitate Voting: Connecting like minded people in groups...
"Dad, I bet that could 'shake' the Nation...just like that...it's an amazing application to connect to like-minded people, and to add more members to the like-minded club"- Yes, he was slowly but surely falling into the groove. An appetizing debate it was.

Social Mobile Apps to facilitate Voting: Creating circles to confer & reciprocate...
"There you go, you always need that dragging force to overcome the inertia of deterring rest...not just the shake I would say, even capturing those 'pivotal moments' could have a widespread visual impact; someone clicking and uploading images straight from the kiosk could have a mass impact. The voice-message enabled chat interface would also bring in receptiveness; it's much like a walkie-talkie mode sending a "vibe" within seconds, the cost being merely the data-charges on your phone. In-fact, considering the social media drive, I would like to applaud Domino's India for launching an innovative initiative, rewarding the young voters with Domino's vouchers for every picture (hand with the superscribed blue ink) uploaded on their Facebook page on the balloting day. It did attract mass interest...and the 'percussion' extended their influence on other social media platforms like twitter and instagram. I have personally shuffled through an anonymous instagram account to discover the level of activity with the hash-tag #vote and #india on that particular day. I mean everything is there, in bits and patches...we just need to stitch them together." - Pin drop silence prevailed...the trailblazer had already summarized his futuristic prediction, he did portray his intent pretty clearly- drawing the 'prolific youth' into the system, by hook or by crook.

Social Mobile Apps to facilitate Voting: Apps are a youth heart-throb, the newness..
"But dad, the data contained in these mobile centric applications, as I already specified...can be tampered easily, we have seen it in the past with the Truecaller database being hacked & this data could be extremely sensitive and confidential, a single instance of illegal data drainage could be enough to create a mass upheaval, even riots could be inflicted."- The concerns that had been raised were legitimate, in-fact when we are analyzing the scenario with respect to the Indian backdrop, it seems all the more legitimate. But then, we are still moving towards an e-centric governance, projects like e-District, SP & SSDG are being rolled out throughout the country...that again deals with sensitive data, and data security has been ensured...nothing is impossible really. All you need is a collective effort & an attainable technology blue-print.

Social Mobile Apps to facilitate Voting: Loads of effective in-built weapons to utilize
"I think we would be rolling out UID or the AADHAR in the next couple of years and an integration would be done subsequently; the AADHAR combined with your bio-metrics would be a good enough means...in-fact I would one-time authentication on your smartphone so that you can vote from anywhere across the globe....on the field, in the cinema-hall or from office & the voting link would be active for just a single hit...I think that pretty-effective-for-the-young-voters, if properly executed that is.....and dude, having a dedicated database for the e/m-voting isn't a big deal...if you have to change the system, create a new voting system focusing on the youth-centric-benediction. I strongly feel that a few online perks like luck-draw-among-voters, early voter reward etc could also be beneficial- all you need to plan, to strategize ...to draw people like you deep into the system, you are the force, you are the face of the Nation and yes, you posses the RIGHT to vote." - His voice was a strong as his statement in itself. Yes, he was perturbed...disturbed at the wide-spread exploitation, nepotism, corruption- it seems to be a dreadful scar that has shown no signs of healing. Perhaps we are in need of a new antidote, the surge of freshness. And of course, with the youth icon, Raghu Ram leading the pack...the undaunted 'Roadies spirit' should serve as an inspiration.

Social Mobile Apps to facilitate Voting: Shake the World, Inflict a Change....
"But dad, I believe, there's a possibility of null or trash votes in that case...we have seen this time and time again in case of SMS voting, especially in reality shows; and I presume you are aware of the approved NOTA option as well. We have observed over 200,000 NOTA votes being registered, as revealed in the latest poll results...what do think? Should this option be restored or abolished? And what about technical glitches, if the m-network malfunctions...will it hamper the entire voting process?" -They won't stop asking questions. Ever. And the part is, in-spite of having a rational point of view, they get carried away.

Social Mobile Apps to facilitate Voting: Explore and do not 'drift' away in the flow...
"The NOTA is a debatable prospect, all I can say...is that in a competitive examination with multiple choice answer-options, 'None of the above' seems to be the most unpopular and it is tricky nevertheless. I feel that for app or SMS voting, the NOTA option should be accompanied with a mandatory comment option to justify this selection in perhaps max 100 characters; we have a such a provision for all Government 'rejections' in the e-Governance sector. That could ensure relevance to some extent. To answer you second question, well, any new system, if implemented, has to run both the manual and e-centric/m-centric system parallel-y...that helps in change management as well; and of course if you can always head off for an early morning jog to the voters' kiosk...good bit of exercise. No?" - That was hilarious really; but then he was right on this aspect as well.

"One last question, Sir....don't you think there should be a common platform to connect young voters from across the country? Your views?" - That was an interesting question, I reckon.

"Haha! You mean a certain Votestagram? Votebook? Votesapp? Hey Developers!! Are you listening??" - He chuckled.

The Ballot Battle: The envisaged vote-centric applications to form a platform of it's own
"I'll make sure that I connect with a few developers and techies through indiblogger...but I need a permission, dad...can I pen down the conversation in form of a blog-post? It's gonna tickle many of the 'wishful thinkers' ;)" - Now you know what I mean by an 'outcome-driven mentality'? :D

"Of course you can"...He calmly replied..."But you have to spread the message...discuss, brain-storm, reciprocate and of course at the end of the day..You HAVE TO VOTE!"

"Of course I will....in-fact, dad, I have already started the process. Wanna see? :D" - The exuberance of youth spoke for itself.

Interact and express....
This post has been written as a part of the India General Elections with Social Mobile Apps Contest sponsored by WeChat India in association with Indiblogger. You can join in the twitter conversation on the above mentioned topic using the hashtag #VoteForIndia

* The cartoons and illustrations have also been created by me and shouldn't be copied or reproduced without permission...please click on the individual pictures for a better view of the text associated in the speech bubbles.

All the photographs (except the stats graph, courtesy mentioned) used in this blog have been clicked through my lens and should not be copied / reproduced in any form without my permission. © Sammya Brata Photography

The Ballot Battle: And make sure that you exercise your vote...it's your right, yes you are RIGHT!
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