Even though it has been 65 years since India’s independence, we as a country have not been able to effectively address the challenges of corruption and accountability and create a society where citizens feel empowered.
Pervasive scepticism exists with regards to the authorities and their intentions. The challenges of life are such that most of us these days only seem to care about ourselves and our families. Sadly, we find very little time to do anything for the broader community and our cities in an effort to make daily life better.
However, I see a light at the end of the tunnel, and a bright one too. This light is technology-powered social media. Mention “social media” and some of us instantly think of Facebook or Twitter and how they have “flattened the world” and brought us closer together. Others may talk about the problems that social media has caused, such as false anonymous rumours that have sometimes led to violence and riots.
Social media is just getting started and potentially has solutions to the challenges of corruption, accountability, citizen empowerment, finding credible information and many more areas that impact daily life, especially in developing nations. The application of social media to solving real life problems is just beginning and as that model matures, India as well as the other emerging nations will greatly benefit from it.
If residents come together as an electronic community and stay connected in real time, they can collaborate to build a stronger neighbourhood, assist each other in times of need, drive accountability for business and authorities, and make their daily lives and cities better. As a collective force, there is a high chance that they will not face corruption and bureaucratic issues, which they otherwise might experience as an individual resident. Similarly, if some of the residents of a city who believe in fighting corruption shared best practices on how to get a property registered or get a tax filing done ethically, they will be able to learn from each other and reduce corruption.
Getting citizens together as a collective force is key to solving some of the challenges that we as citizens in India face. However, given where we stand with our busy schedules, it is only technology that can connect citizens and enable community formation. Real identity-based social media is the most promising of all technologies and one that can empower civil society in India to fight corruption and drive accountability.
The World Economic Forum, through its social media initiatives and Partnership Against Corruption Initiative (PACI), provides a platform for thought leadership on the issue. An anti-corruption workshop on India on 12 April at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi, India, will be a good opportunity for leaders of the Government of India and corporate and civil society to collaborate on the subject.
Author: Sachin Taparia is the Chairman and Managing Director of LocalCircles.
Image: A woman walks past a Blackberry advertisement billboard in Mumbai REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui