Role of Digital Media in Indian Elections

A critical analysis of the increasing role that digital media plays in Indian electoral system.

Introduction

Digital media plays an essential role in the ideal functioning of a democracy. It can inform the public of how effectively they have performed and assist to preserve them to account. Yet it additionally has other roles in enabling full public participation in elections:

  • by educating voters on how to work out their democratic rights;
  • trough reporting on the improvement of an election campaign;
  • by means of offering a platform for the political parties and candidates to communicate their message to the electorate;
  • by supplying a platform for the public to talk their concerns, opinions, and needs, to the parties/candidates, the EMB, the government, and to different voters, and to interact on these issues;
  • by means of allowing the events and candidates to debate with each other;
  • by way of reporting outcomes and monitoring vote counting;
  • by means of scrutinizing the electoral manner itself, along with electoral management, in order to evaluate the fairness of the process, its efficiency, and its probity;
  • by using offering facts that, as far as possible, avoids inflammatory language, supporting to prevent election-related violence.

Digital media are now not the sole source of facts for voters, but in a world dominated by mass communications, it is increasingly more the media that determine the political agenda, even in much less technologically developed countries. It plays a principal function in retaining the citizenry abreast of current occasions and raising focus of a range of troubles in any society. It also has an extraordinarily great influence on the public’s views and way of thinking. The media is the major capacity through which public opinion is fashioned and at times manipulated. If this is the media’s role then in the ordinary direction of events, it will become even greater critical in tremendous periods, one of which is electoral junctures, when the media will become a predominant player. Elections represent a simple project to the media, inserting its impartiality and objectivity to the test.

Media Literacy

Media literacy is critical to ensure that the media is held responsible for all the information it provides to people regarding elections. The Center for Media Literacy expresses the term as follows:

Media Literacy is a 21st-century technique of education. It offers a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and take part with messages in a range of types — from print to video to the Internet.

Social media is additionally used to improve candidate conduct and improve candidate-voter interaction. In Malaysia in 2012, Transparency International (TI) requested all elections candidates to signal a voluntary ‘Election Pledge.’ I noted “the motive of the pledge is to understand that it is the accountability of each and every candidate to war corruption, workout proper governance and uphold the rule of law. The pledge additionally emphasizes the quintessential role residents play in monitoring their politicians with the aid of offering a platform the region the public can screen and comment on candidates’ performances.”

Media and Indian Electoral System

In the past four years, there has been a marked shift in social media content and tactics of the BJP and the major opposition party, center-left Indian National Congress (INC). While the BJP’s 2014 election campaign centered on development, the countdown to the 2019 election seems to be ticked off by more and more polarizing posts by both the BJP and the INC.

Social media users are no longer just urban professionals and students. Hyper-segmentation of voters using social media analytics has made identity politics a viable social media campaign strategy. WhatsApp, Share Chat and Helo, makes it easier to spread polarizing messages and disinformation faster.

Pros and Cons of Digital Media in Indian Electoral System

On the distinct hand, unique lookup determined that social media would nonetheless play a vital segment in figuring out election results, because almost 40% of social media users use the media platforms to decide about the politician or party, they have to cast their vote for.

In conclusion, whilst it raises new challenges and dilemmas, in general, digital media holds out a total lot conceivable for all elections stakeholders, along with EMBs. This plausible is growing as world get right of entry to digital media grows, as do present day approaches of utilizing it.

A country’s portfolio of media possession is possibly to have an considerable bearing on a differ of electoral issues, consisting of questions such as the extent to which political advertising is permitted, citizens’ get admission to civic and voter education as nicely as marketing campaign material, and the extent to which elections are blanketed in a balanced and trustworthy manner.

Laws governing Digital Media

The digital media in India will now be governed through new IT rules, 2021.

Indian News Media is no longer regulated by way of a single body or association. There have been extra than a few instances and proposals to have a single regulatory board for the data quarter which is altogether every other neighborhood of debate with regard to regulatory boards. In India rules of media is divided into news and non-news sectors. A Brief Overview of the current criminal framework governing the information area is critical in order to apprehend the lacuna in the regulatory regime and then in ascertaining the regulatory framework for the on-line records media in India.

Media play an imperative task in augmenting cognizance in humans about human affairs in society. Article 19 of the Indian Constitution specifies the freedom of speech and expression, alongside with six other freedoms. Article 19 does now now not explicitly grant for freedom of the press but through referring to the intentions of the lawmakers thru the Constitutional Assembly Debates, it can be inferred that Dr. B.R Ambedkar opined that journalist could advise their freedom of speech and expression in their personality context as an editor or as a reporter.

The new social media rules require firms to now not surely allow traceability of end-to-end encrypted messages, however also set up local locations of work staffed with senior officers to deal with regulation enforcement and person grievances.

Firms will also be required to put up a month-to-month compliance file to disclose the range of requests they have received, as properly as specify the strikes they took. They will additionally be required to offer a voluntary preference to customers who desire to verify their accounts.

Digital Media laws in other Countries

In the first week of June 2021, The US Government made a range of sizable bulletins which focus on having necessary outcomes on how social media constructions operate, along with plausible limitations and restrictions on what digital platforms can do in regards to shopping for other platforms, running their ad businesses, utilizing consumer data and more.

On 11 June, 2021, 4 separate bills have been delivered to the House of Representatives which all take cause at a quantity of factors of massive tech monopolies.

As suggested thru Reuters, those four payments ought to potentially see:

A regulation toward buildings giving desire to their personal products on their platforms. For example, Google would no longer be capable to promote its very own products in search, Apple would not be allowed to preference Apple Music over Spotify, etc.

A limit on business mergers in the tech quarter besides the acquirer can display that the got enterprise corporation used to be once no longer in competition with any product or company the platform already offers. Facebook would now no longer have been allowed to gather WhatsApp or Instagram beneath this provision.

A ban on digital structures proudly owning subsidiaries that function on their platform if these subsidiaries compete with different businesses. This is aimed at decreasing preferential behavior, and ought to in all likelihood force the sell-off of sure elements.

Improved man or woman data portability, with structures under a jail duty to permit clients to transfer their information someplace else if they choose, consisting of to a competing business.

Conclusion and Suggestions

Although Indian electoral system has slowly been shifting towards a new digital revolution, it effects have not been similar nationwide. In places, where regional and communal politics are playing their roles into the government, digital media have often been used as a way to influence the public towards their agenda and sometimes, instigating the people against other political parties. With the advent of digital media, hacking has become a common process and hence, election can become unfair and data can get stolen and misused in a way that can threaten the security and unity of the country. Opposition from political parties have become common phenomenon and this has many-a-times lead to violent clashes among the party workers and hence creating an environment of dissatisfaction among people.

Sometimes, political leaders use digital media for increasing popularity and attracting attention of people towards unnecessary things and hence wasting a lot of time and resources. Therefore, although digital media has paved its way and is having a great impact on Indian Electoral System, it is still limited to certain parts of the country. With proper rules and effective implementation, digital media will surely be the most effective solution for the future elections.

  • Each and every process of election should be made digitally available. Laws and rules should be made for effective transparency in elections
  • The information about the political leaders should be made available t the people so that they can cast their votes according to the information provided to them.
  • Election commission should carefully use digital media so as to avoid any clash and also to prevent violence between political parties.
  • They should also look after the content posted by political parties/leaders on digital media after having contested for the election.

FAQs

What is the role of digital media in elections?

The media carries out campaigns by educating the voters of the candidates, their profiles, and the importance of voting in a democracy. Social media is additionally used to improve candidate conduct and improve candidate-voter interaction.

What is media literacy?

Media Literacy is a 21st-century technique of education. It offers a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and take part with messages in a range of types — from print to video to the Internet.

What are the laws governing the digital media?

The digital media in India will now be governed through new IT rules, 2021. Indian News Media is no longer regulated by way of a single body or association. 

Is freedom of press a fundamental right?

Yes, Article 19 does not explicitly grant for freedom of the press but through referring to the intentions of the lawmakers thru the Constitutional Assembly Debates.

What should be the role of election commission?

Election commission should carefully use digital media so as to avoid any clash and also to prevent violence between political parties.

Author

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    Shivi is a B.A.LL.B student at at Rajasthan University. She likes to explore the unexplored and loves to take up new opportunities every day.

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