Centre invites volunteers to counter anti-govt campaign

In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha poll and several upcoming Assembly elections, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has turned to the people to find volunteers who can outwit netizens campaigning against the government in cyber space.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has launched an ambitious “My India Initiative-Digital Volunteer Programme,” inviting people to join and “use their presence” on various social media platforms “to talk about government policies and programmes.”

“Deeply rooted in the ideals of participative governance, the programme aims at helping the government achieve a real time engagement with people leading to a personalised interaction with the target groups,” an official from the I&B ministry said.

The move comes at a time when the UPA government has been battered by criticism from various quarters mainly on corruption and economic policies, described by the critics as “anti-people”.

An aggressive campaign against the government in various social networking sites is adding to the worries of the UPA managers, who have been finding it difficult to deal with the situation.

According to the ministry’s programme, those who have an active Twitter and Facebook account, and are proficient in using social media group collaboration tools like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and others, can register themselves to become a “digital volunteer” .

“The basic requirement, however, is that they are willing to use their personal social presence to help government spread a word about its policies and programmes,” the official said. Their activities will be under constant supervision by the social media cell of the ministry. “Hence, they have to agree to work under the supervision of the social media cell and provide suitable and necessary feedback,” the official added.

The Centre has made efforts to increase its presence on the internet with almost all of its ministries having accounts in popular networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to connect with the people.

“But, these steps are not yielding the expected results. Those campaigning against the government in cyber space are far more dedicated and large in number,” a senior official said.

The ministry hopes that engaging people in dissemination of government policies and programmes at various social networking sites and other spaces on the internet could give much better results.

“The internet is extensively being used by certain sections to discredit the government by their dubious comments and information posted in various sites. This needs to be tackled,” the official added.

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