If it weren’t for Shambhavi Saxena’s tweets, I along with 15 other women would perhaps have been unable to be released from the Parliament Street police station on 25th December, 2012. Shambhavi kept on tweeting from the room where all of us were detained. Her tweets were picked up by her friends who alerted the media.
Why did no Indian government authority pick up her tweets? Why is there no mechanism to pick up panic tweets? Very simply, our govt is not equipped to handle social media. It is not the fact that they cannot hire qualified people for this, perhaps they already have a team. The point is that the Indian govt does not understand the power of social media nor does it have the mindset to engage with the public. It still operates on the ‘talk down’ approach rather than the ‘engagement’ approach.
Is the govt oblivious to the rising numbers of internet users? Today’s Times of India mentions estimated 137 million internet users in India with 1.5 lakh users being added every month. 65 million active Facebook users with half of that number below age 25 years, 18 million Twitter accounts, India 6th in terms of total Twitter accounts.
Why didn’t the govt make any effort to engage with the agitating students via social media when it was afraid to come out on the streets and engage with them? Section 66A and Section 144 – both examples of a crackdown mindset. Don’t raise your voice online, don’t raise your voice on ground.
Shambhavi’s mother, Usha Saxena sent an email to Ms. Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister, Delhi on the night of 25th December and signed off as ‘A terrified mother’. Until today, she has not received a reply nor even an acknowledgment of the email.
Sign this petition to save women from sexual assaults. Let us make India safe for women by using the power of social media.
What the Indian govt needs to do:
1. Set up Rapid Response Teams (RRT) consisting of women cops who will monitor social networking sites for any panic messages and alert the police force
2. Equip our women police force to handle such alerts through sensitised training and appropriate vehicles to reach the location immediately
3. Review our laws and change them to allow complaints or panic calls via tweets and Facebook posts to be used as evidence
4. Establish emotional connect via social media – The Indian govt is woefully out of sync with the masses. It has not been able to engage with us beyond traditional media. Use it as a mobilisation tool to connect with us.