Twitter Gate
D Dhanuraj
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Twitter Gate is a widely accepted media jargon these days, with Shashi Tharoor being active in pushing his ideas on Twitter and with his unique comments on each issue, he is projected as a hero or villain by different sets of social mongering. For the post License Raj generation who are IT savvy and represents the knowledge economy, Tharoor represents the image of a reformer with international experience unlike most of his colleagues in the ministry while for the others, Tharoor is an alien who does not know the ground realities of Indian politicking. Has he been able to deliver up to the expectations of the people of the constituency he represents, who favoured Tharoor to his nearest opponent by more than one lakh votes, is a question that both his critiques and supporters need to analyse.

His experience working with UN for many years and then his candidature for UN Secretary General post should have exposed to him to the realities and innovations happening around the world. India, still being an agrarian country has both images of Africa and that of the Silicon Valley to present to the world audience. Thanks to the IT boom and an exponential rate of growth in mobile telephones, one part of India is in sync with Facebooks and Twitters while others who find it difficult to have one Dollar a day struggle to meet their ends. Tweets are equivalent to a mobile platform where the character spacing is limited but more powerful as it reaches people globally. But one should examine how Tharoor's tweets, which reflect the rich experience that he has had help, to reinvigorate the people by bringing about solutions to their problems. I hardly find Tweets wherein he has expressed his ideas/solutions to a problem, rather he comments on his trips and journeys across the globe including his interest towards cricket and literature.

Tharoor represents the capital constituency of Kerala and he is the Minister of State for External Affairs. Having had exposure to political, social and economic developments across the globe over the last two decades or more, I believe he is the best fit for both the profiles. Kerala has been looking for a change in the mindset for decades to ensure that it does not lag behind at least with other neighbouring states. Kerala is known for export of Human Capital and in recent times it has shown a positive trend towards exporting skilled and intellectual capital. Why can't Tharoor set a platform where the human prowess of Kerala shall be tapped for the development of this country and make them to think/act in best interests of the nation, here in India. I am not referring to the intellectual drain out but am looking for a paradigm shift in terms of administration and execution of different government initiatives/policies for the betterment of people in this country. Why can't Tharoor use the Twitter platform to generate that debate as I feel that he has been given a free hand to write on Twitter unlike his ministry staff and colleagues. There is a huge followership for his tweets and it would be worthwhile if he can start a debate on whether different government programs (NREGA like initiatives) have been successful or not.

Tharoor needs to reach out to the masses more to understand their challenges and mindsets. The needs of the population vary in a state like Kerala where the middleclass is a sizable majority. Kerala, and especially his constituency, Thiruvananthapuram, offer the right mix of people with the same upward mobility aspiration levels of twenty first century urban population. Knowing his people better would help him to make a positive impact (or in his own words "to make a difference") by understanding and executing those policies that matter to his voters using gadgets and widgets going beyond Twitter. In this part of the world, there has been an interesting class conflict of practitioners and theorists. The technological innovations have endangered the classical administrators who believed in the conventional arguments and practises. Tharoor can demonstrate by widening the scope of his Tweets through introducing GIS maps and interactive knowledge sharing platforms like Wikis at least within his constituency to begin with. I wonder why he is not doing it since there is an increased emphasis on ensuring that there is efficient availability and ownership of resources amongst various stakeholders that puts pressure, not just on the State Government but also on the political party that he belongs, to deliver in a better manner. As a minister and as an MP, he can be a role model (in real terms!) for all these changes that the country looks forward to. If he does it, he will be remembered for information liberalisation in this country in the years to come; A Manmohan Act in 2010!

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