Every politician in India talks about connecting with the youth given the demographics of India but they do not either use the right means of communicating or an apt messenger to connect with youngsters. More than 65% of India’s population is below the age of 35; so how do you drum up your support with them. The standard answer from politicians is to have a SMS campaign, a Bollywood star campaigner and they have it all covered in their campaign agenda. I think they do not give the Indian youth enough credit.
With elections being only months away, politicians in urban areas need to adopt different media strategies. Internet is turning into a powerful medium for Election campaigns and the cyber space is being used for wooing people into party ideology and activities as also for promoting party candidates. Graffiti for politicians might mean party hoardings just like painting party symbols on walls. But what amazes me is this new urbane community expression or act which seems to have spread like fire and its timing! Just like flash mobs are a regular feature of Indian cities (with its history of Nautankis and public street plays); in the US flash mobs are also evolving as a community expression (more than a fad certainly). To me, it appears like graffiti walls and other visual media have the ability to communicate something unique about a person, party and its ideology. Not to mention that graffiti just like flash mobs has the uncanny power to highlight something important as a social message or cheer up a dull space as also ease off an otherwise busy urbane lifestyle at an opportune moment—e.g. breaking into a musical performance at the railway station, airport terminal or streets etc. The surprise element is one thing, while the power to communicate to urbane folks feeling the gap of urbanization and a grunt of estrangement—Graffiti and flash mobs connect people by speaking a language (dance and art) we all understand.
So as campaign planning begins in earnest for the upcoming elections, how about a flash mob for their party at a popular mall or graffiti laying out why they should be elected rather than the same old speeches, loud speakers on vans and rickshaw-ads hustling people into large stadiums, which barely allows a glimpse of a candidate across the sea of humanity. How about an election campaign that fills this gap and allows connecting with youth and people of India?
Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi, Mulayam Singh et al, I hope you are listening!
Your thoughts are welcome.
Sanjay Puri has been working on Indian-American issues and facilitating stronger US-India relations through USINPAC (US India Political Action Committee) and AUSIB (Alliance for US India Business), two bipartisan organizations that he chairs.