Sign your way to online protests

Going Viral

Sign your way to online protests

Always willing to do something for your country but never had the courage to take the first step? Raising your voice against a social ill but not finding enough support? Being extensively involved in endless serious debates on social networking sites, but feeling deprived of having made a real difference? Do not suppress that building aggression; instead channelise it correctly through your networking skills.

With rising online connectivity, social causes are being taken up on a whole new platform. Online petitions have emerged as the new protest zone, churning out numerous success stories and some great breakthroughs in an otherwise impossible system.

While the offline protests have their own share of physical involvement and an evident energy, online petitions act as a strong medium for an initial mobilisation that ultimately decides its achievements. “I think it is a fantastic idea that involves limited participation and provides efficient results. I have strong faith in this kind of activism,” states Sakshi Kumar who is the founder of Justice for Women, an initiative
encouraging people to demand justice for women who have been wronged.

Planning an online petition and ensuring a wide target audience allows a comprehensive voice. But since online petitions are still in their nascent stages, it takes away their credibility and appeal on several occasions. “Such online efforts are great but physical involvement has to be there. People who are petitioning must take an initiative to engage more stakeholders by talking to them, meeting them and so on.

A petition is not successful till the time the petitioner personally takes the initiative to do a bit of offline work and drive action,” informs Anshul Tewari, founder and editor-in-chief, Youth Ki Awaaz: Mouthpiece for the Youth, who has been involved with many online petitions for issues like the anti-rape bill, rationalising auto fares in Chennai, protecting assaulted women in Lalitpur, etc.

Like all other protests, success of online petitions is also determined by their rationality. “Such activism should ask for practical actions. You can't write a petition asking the Prime Minister to eradicate hunger! Instead you make small targets and try to achieve that. For example, asking the food and agriculture minister to reduce price of onions by Re 1,” suggests Sakshi.

It has limited reach since only the net savvy are active on social networking sites which is a big drawback. “I don’t think they work. They rarely get noticed by the concerned authorities. Most of these are in English, so language is another barrier.
Also, there’s no mechanism for delivering these petitions to courts or concerned authorities. Often there are individual or political interests involved. On-ground movements have a lot more impact,” opines Anurag Batra, editor-in-chief of exchange4media.

Whatever the end result, such petitions acts as a great source of motivation for a
beginner.

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