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Government 2.0 in India - Part 1
With the sweeping penetration of 2.0 Movement, unprecedented changes are taking place in political spheres. User generated content will have dramatic influence on government platforms. This is true to say that political class using social media, is a mark of Government 2.0.

THE BUZZ words for open government and democratization process are transparency, collaboration and participation. Practices based on open government framework are flourishing in India.

However, it is argued that the existing open government initiatives such as open government enactments, laws and other initiatives like RTI are insufficient as there is a visible lack of transparency, collaboration and participation on the part of citizens in India. Therefore, technology mediated participation and collaboration are binding for achieving open government in India.

The political class using social media for campaigning, disseminating and networking is sign of Govt 2.0 which also leads to Open Government in India. Government in general and various Ministries, Departments and other Institutions along with Government at different levels can make use of social media platforms and other open source software, all of which can configure a Govt 2.0.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, Emails, Chat options and other such social media platforms can be influential in this process which can guarantee Govt.2.0 and Open Government in India.  The rampant use of social media in electoral engagement and even use of social media by government agencies is a mark of Govt 2.0.

At a time when politics becomes distinctly hierarchical and feudalistic, engaging with citizens is almost an ancient ideal and remains only in principle. Institutionalized politics has become an anachronism when civil society supersedes established way of exchange and negotiation.
Democratising democracies become an inevitable corollary of modern democracy and an ideal. Open Government is an indicator of democratisation of democracy. It is therefore, a prerequisite of every government to become ‘Transparent’, ‘Participatory’ and ‘Collaborative’.

The Government 2.0 is an attempt to highlight the place of social media in Open government Movement. In today’s networked world, the public sector and public authority is tapping into new media applications to increase participation, transparency and collaboration. This has been laid down by open government agenda which gained impetus over the past few years. It is now extensively acknowledged that greater openness, transparency and collaboration benefits not only citizens but also government itself.

The rationale of Govt 2.0 is to introduce fresh indicator for measuring government openness, transparency and collaboration. Existing open government indicators tend to focus either on the presence of key laws and institutions, or on citizens perceptions of government performance. The underlying argument is that conventional notions of openness, transparency and collaboration are insufficient to understand Open Government. The degree to which governments deal with social media is now part of how they deal with civil liberties, press freedom, privacy and freedom of expression in general.

Government on social Media: The Platform?

The social in Social Media entail the tools, places and services that allow people to gather for social interaction. Social media allows individuals to gather and express themselves in a much more simple and immediate fashion. By giving people this capability, they not only have the ability to share ideas, opinions and other contents, but also (if they wish) gain notoriety, and expand their influence.

Social networking and social media websites correspond to a shift in how people discover, read, and share news, information, and content; they are a fusion of sociology and technology, transforming monologues (one-to-many) into dialogues (many-to-many), and they are the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into content publishers. The social nature of these websites helps to build online communities of people who carve interests, activities, or both, or people interested in exploring the interests and activities of others.

The relevance of social media platforms come at the critical juncture of recent government attempts to improve transparency by enhancing technology-enabled government citizen direct interaction. The citizen government direct interaction can be attainable if there is a strong social media policy which provides profound vigilance for use of platforms for engaging with citizen concerns. Check, share, comment, like, tweet, view, update, retweet, follow, blog, post, delete, upload, scrap, sign in, register, chat, stream, wall, note etc., are devices by which government can reach out to citizens and vice versa in an unparalleled manner. Social media tools present unmatched opportunities for collaborative government, but implementing these tools in government comes with unique challenges.

Government can use enormous social media platforms and tools to connect with people. Government on social media means ‘government on platform’. In that sense, a plethora of tools are usable and applicable for government to come online. Micro-blogging, Wikis, Video & Photo Sharing, Podcasting, Social Networking Sites, Social Bookmarking Sites, Mashups, Widgets, Virtual Worlds, Social Media Releases, Social News Rooms are instances where government is in line with the citizen.

Govt 2.0: The Platforms of Click

Activities

Interactive Platforms

Interactive Tools

Discussion and Chats among Citizens

(blogs, Chat rooms, e-mailing lists, community pages, Websites)

Post, Send, Enter, Follow

Visit, Comment, Update, Tweet, Retweet, Like, Wall, Share, Forum, Notes,

Reply, Forward, Collaborate

Scrap, Bookmark, Upload

Citizen access to MPs and public authorities

(Web, e-mail, blogs,)

Online ‘participatory’ journalism

(web, email, SMS, MMS, blogs, micro-blogging )

Connections and weak tie networks

(Networking sites)

User-generated content in broadcasting

(Social Media badges in TV, radio, web, SMS, blogs)

Social Movement activity

(web, blogs, email, wikis)

Collaboration/Co-operation

(Social Network sites, Emails, Video sharing, photo sharing sites)

Government using social media will have reflective implications both at levels of governance and civil society. Bridging the gap between citizens and institutions are concerns of every democratic society. Inclusion and accommodation makes daunting challenges for government at work. In a spectacular manner, a government on social media will have many obvious implications. It can increase dissemination of information, generate awareness, enhance use of institutions, encourage usefulness of services, and services reflect on wider society.

Social Media can enlarge government contact to new and diverse audiences. Viral impact can be attained on every decision of institutions. Facilitate interactive communication & community between citizen and government. Put human face on government. Knowledge distribution perks up quality of services and governance.  Cross boundaries, inside and outside outfit will be enhanced with the rise of government on social media. Diminish replication. Save time and money of both government and citizen.

Specific Government Applications of Social Media

Activities

Platforms

Discussion and chats among citizens

(blogs, chartrooms, e-maling lists, comment thread)

Citizen access to MPs and public authorities

(Web, e-mail, blogs, social networking sites)

Online ‘participatory’ journalism

(Web, email, SMS, MMS, blogs, micro-blogging)

Connections and weak tie networks

(network sites)

User-generated content in broadcasting

(TV, Radio, Web, SMS, blogs)

Social Movement activity

(web, blogs, email, wikis, emailing list)

Collaboration

Bookmarking, RSS feed,

Political Campaign

Websites, Google Plus, Twitter, social networking, emails

Being open and transparent means offering the public the information they want, before they want it. It means offering new services without them having been requested. And it means innovating in the way we communicate to support those new offerings. Open Government doesn't simply make it easy to access and understand government data; it makes it easy for users to interact around it. Users can gather around an individual bill and discuss the bill in comments. The site even offers RSS feeds for individual bills, so you can keep up with when actions are taken regarding that particular item.

Open Government and Social Media

Social media technologies hold great promise in their ability to transform governance by increasing government’s transparency and its interaction with citizens. The interactive and instant capabilities and the increasingly pervasive nature of social media technologies can create new ways of democratic participation, pressures for new institutional structures, and processes and frameworks for open and transparent government on an unprecedented scale. These potentials are profound, but come with challenges in the areas of policy development, governing and governance, process design, and conceptions of democratic engagement. This document provides a selected overview of key issues, questions, and best practice government initiatives regarding social media technologies.

Open Government and Government 2.0 are about more than wikis, open data, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Web 2.0, or social media. It is about the strategic use of technology to transform 21st century government into a platform that is participatory, collaborative, and transparent. Social media can help facilitate this transformation, but starting a blog or Twitter account is by no means a prerequisite. Open government doesn’t start or end with social media. It starts with a mindset to become more participatory, collaborative, and transparent. While government use of social media is often highlighted as best practice examples of open government, they’re by no means the only examples. So, for those who may be might not be ready for social media, there are things that can help organization become more open, and none involve social media.

In general, government missions are much simpler and focus on providing a trustworthy public service upon which citizens can rely. The existing information and communication paradigm is highly hierarchical with standard operating procedures that don’t necessarily support the 140-character news cycle. Instead, blog posts, Facebook and Twitter updates have to be carefully crafted to avoid confusion, rumors, and misinformation. There is rarely an update that goes out without revisions and explicit approval after carefully considering the potential impact or consequences. In this risk-averse communication environment, social media constitutes a departure from the existing standards. Services, such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Blogger, YouTube, and others, represent the fastest growing segment of Internet usage. Social media can therefore redefine the way we give meaning to our social world, politics, and world view.

About the Contributors: Biju. P. R. is Assistant Professor and HoD, Department of Political Science, Government Brennen College, Kerala. Gayathri O. is Assistant Professor/FDP Scholar, Department of Political Science, Kerala, University.

To be Contd.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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