Technology is revolutionising people's lives around the world and has great implication for a country like ours. By reducing the possibility of human error and discretion, technology creates a level playing field where entitlements can reach the intended beneficiaries and leakages can be plugged. Technology works as an enabler in making information available to millions of our citizens who have been disenfranchised by bureaucracy and red-tape. It can also hugely enhance personal productivity. I myself rely heavily on messaging apps, audio and video conferencing facilities and other tech-based solutions in my personal as well as political life.
I spend about 15 days a month in different parts of my constituency every month. I use a bulk sms service to keep my constituents informed about the days when I will visit their village so that they can meet me to discuss their grievances. My field team extensively uses messaging apps, especially in time of disasters and crises to extend emergency relief and rescue to constituents. Additionally, coordination and project related follow up between my teams working in Delhi and Odisha becomes simpler with the use of collaboration applications.
Given the myriad roles that a Parliamentarian is expected to play, in the constituency, and at the state and the national level, using technology is crucial in maintaining connect with the voters as well as increasing reach. Advocacy of policy stands that I take in Parliament and outside are impossible without leveraging technology solutions. My website serves as the anchor for all the information about my policy positions, debates and speeches, articles that I write etc. whereas social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook serve as a medium to spread this information among engaged and interested people worldwide. I regularly conduct 'Policy workshops' for hundreds of young Indians who are interested in policy and politics across the country. Reaching such a wide national constituency through traditional media would have been far more expensive and much slower; however, new age technology overcomes both these limitations.
The use of technology in politics has completely transformed the narrative, especially in the last general elections. The innovative campaign strategies used by some political parties have been game changers. For instance, I started a campaign called #The5voterproject which was a voter encouragement initiative to urge people to vote this election and take at least 5 friends with them to vote. However, for my constituency, Kendrapara, where mobile internet usage is only now gradually picking up, campaign strategies were innovative yet, largely traditional, although the use of bulk sms and voice messaging was an important component.
Information is power, and the ability of technology to make information available at our fingertips has transformative potential, particularly for countries like India, where they can enable leap frogging across vast hurdles.