Kindly note that essay is a very dynamic paper and nobody in India gives a topic wise strategy for essay. Although the style of representation and content can vary from individual to individual, what we are trying to do here is give you some critical aspect, some examples or quotes and reference material which can act as a guide to create a better framework and shape your essay in order to take it to the next-level. Every individual have their strength and way of expression and by no means we want to suppress your creative writing abilities or hamper your imagination, hence use this strategy as a tool to create a better framework. The idea is to expand your horizon of thinking. If you have something more to add do let us know in the comment section.
Why this essay was asked :-
This is the most important question and probably the most critical aspect. If one understands Why the essay was asked then, the job of writing a good essay is half-done.
The essence here is the relevance of the essay to contemporary times.
The reason behind asking this essay :-
With the rise of internet and social media and many other platforms including blog-reporting or micro-blogging site like “twitter” the gulf between the ruler and ruled has collapsed.
The data flow from one corner to another is done in real time and technology managed to wipe out the information asymmetry existed between ruler and ruled.
Moreover, the understanding of democracy is evolving through time. Initially it was about fundamental right but the definition of democracy is changing. For example- Right to timely delivery of services or right to healthy environment etc are few nuances of the ever changing and ever expanding democratic system.
An array of technology is deployed for citizen welfare making democracy more democratic – From ” Twitter Seva” to Eliciting response and views from the public in general, to social media campaign against unjust rules etc.
Democracy, as we know is of the people by the people and for the people. But that is the letter of democracy, the spirit behind democracy is substantially different and deeper that the letter of it.The spirit is “Power to People”. All the institutions and the idea of checks and balances are there to strengthen democracy.
In the introductory part you can briefly introduce how democracy is changing and how technology is an enabler of democracy. In sum, give one or two example (if possible) on how technology is “Giving the Power to People” by “Making them heard”. The “common mans” voice has grown louder and wider and do wield tangible results when needed. The rulers are no more at liberty to “get away with tantrums”.The dictum of politics has been changed from “manipulate and rule” to “deliver or perish” – thanks to technology.
Examples for this can be varied, it can be Social media campaign for women’s rights to social media campaign to get electricity to a small village tucked away in the hills of North-East India or simply, giving inputs on a government’s bill/policy.
Then give examples on how it is making democracy more participatory.
Other examples can be the TwitterSeva or TwitterDiplomacy etc (When a child got his milk delivered through a tweet to Railway Ministry or when an NRI got help from MEA through a tweet)
Body of the Essay:-
In the body part you have to deal with how technology is making the democracy democratic by making it truly of “of the people by the people and for the people and 2 critical questions :- How Technology is empowering people and How technology is eclipsing the rights of the people.
1) Technology helping the democracy to be “by the people” in true sense.
By the people suggests that people will rule themselves. So technology helps them to get education, to be aware and to take informed decision about their representatives whom they are going to elect.
Justification- the social media and mass media exposes the leaders who are involved in nepotism, favouritism and other corrupt and criminal activities
By the people not only confined to elect their representatives but also to ensure accountability from them and from other institutions of democracy. So every citizen will feel that it is their country and for whose development they are playing a great role.
Justification – RTI, Citizen Charter, grievance redressal mechanism.
Then you can go on describing how the Internet has been an enabler of human rights – from exposing corruption to holding govt. accountable.
You can think of all the fundamental rights provided by our constitution and see how technology is enabling an expanding the “voice of people and more importantly voices of marginal sections of society”
2) Technology helping the democracy to be “Of the people” in true sense.
Of the people suggests that a democratically elected government is emphatically and truly, a government of the people. In form, and in substance, the power of the government emanates from them. Its powers are granted by them, and are to be exercised directly on them, and for their benefit.”
Technology ensures that the voice of the poorest person of the country living in the remotest region to be heard. So every citizen will feel that it is their country and for their development the government is constantly striving.
Think on these lines :-
Technology & Women Empowerment
Technology & right to healthy environment
Technology & Education (Making education accessible – Give examples such as MOOC, digital library etc)
Technology & LGBT (Campaigns for rights through Facebook and twitter and online petition to govt. etc)
Technology & Divyanga (How it is enabling the physically disabled to exercise their right and bringing awareness)
Technology & Right to health
Technology & Disaster Management
Technology & the Farmer, Smart agriculture and precision famring (e-Nam and removing the middle man or soil-health card and delivering scientific advise through mobile phone)
Technology and rural economy (Mahila e-haat)
Technology and inclusive growth
Technology & Free Speech
Technology and Culture (People’s campaign to save their culture- Jallikattu Campaign)
Technology & Civil society, Youth Engagement etc and how it helps to bridge the trust deficit between ruler and ruled and makes a case for healthy democracy.
In short, you can think of how technology is enabling the “individual” , the “community” and the “country” and how it is helping people to raise their voice or empowering them to realize their full potential. After all, at the heart of democracy lay the principle of empowerment of the individual.
Once you have discussed the essay from people’s point of view. Then you can move on to Govt.’s perspective
3) Technology helping the democracy to be “For the people” in true sense.
How technology enabling the policy maker to frame better and customized policies thus discarding the blanket approach.(Example- It can be Data driven Smart city Projects to technology enabled better traffic control or weather forecast for that matter)
Technology & Governance – Good governance and Ethical Governance (How technology is enabling to wipe out the bureaucratic discretion and making the service delivery seamless and hassle-free)
Technology & Political/Executive Accountability
Technology and Right to timely delivery of service
Technology & Disaster Management
Technology and National Security
Technology and Welfare state (Subsidy-AADHAR-JAM Trinity etc)
Technology and Financial Inclusion
Technology and Gender equality (“Selfie with daughter” campaign)
Technology and Fight against “Parallel Economy” (Black Money, Money Laundering etc) and how this fight makes for a just society.
Technology and Smart Policing ( “TI mera Bhai He” campaign in Madhya Pradesh)
Cops in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh have found an interesting way of saving women from online abuse. As part of a campaign called ‘TI mera bhai hai’, police in the district are asking women to take selfies with police station in-charges and use them as profile pictures to deter stalkers. (TI stands for thana in-charge).
Police have asked school and college girls to click selfies with in-charge of a local police station and use them as display pictures (DP) on their WhatsApp profile with the message ‘TI mera bhai hai’ (TI is my brother). Local police in the district believe this will keep the stalkers away from the girls.
Since the launch of the campaign last week, over 500 girls in the district have already taken selfies with TIs, according to ToI. The campaign was started after police in Hoshangabad, which is about 80 km away from Bhopal, received a number of reports of women getting stalked on WhatsApp by strangers.
4)Democracy is all about people and their places. After discussing the positive aspects then you can discuss the negative aspects :-
How democratically govts. are using technology for their undemocratic ends (NSA snooping and Right to privacy issue)
How technology is used for terrorist recruiting or false propaganda leading to communal clashes.
How different vested interests are hampering public opinion – “Manufacturing and manipulating peoples’ consent”
Degradation of political standards when political executive fight over twitters or any other platforms to seek attention.
How technology, although enabled the individual, yet the instant reaction to “sensationalized news” without second sober though leading to distorted public perception.
How certain sections/groups hold on to power – Dynastic Politics and how this is seen all over the world. Lack of intra-party democracy can also be discussed.
5)Democracy, Election and Technology:-
In this part you can emphasize the importance of election process in a democracy and how usage of technology such as EVM machines and Totaliser machines could help in curbing the undemocratic tendencies of booth capturing or vote-rigging etc.
You can briefly add a note on how technology can help in bringing transparency to political funding as well.
After putting all the arguments, then you can suggest on how to curb the negative and how we can make democracy truly participatory and thus more democratic.
Few more global and Indian examples that can be included in the essay-
1)Occupy wall street movement and how social media helped it organize to fight inequality in USA.
2)Black Lives Matter, a movement fighting violence against African-Americans
3)Nirbhaya case, internet driven protests and the subsequent amendment to strengthen the law for violence against women.
4)The movement against corruption in India – Anna Hazare and Internet.
India Against Corruption (IAC) is an anti-corruption movement in India which was particularly prominent during the anti-corruption protests of 2011 and 2012, the central point of which was debate concerning the introduction of a Jan Lokpal bill. During that time it sought to mobilise the masses in support of their demands for a less corrupt society in India. Divisions amongst key members of the IAC’s core committee eventually led to a split within the movement. Arvind Kejriwal left to form the Aam Aadmi Party, while Anna Hazare left to form Jantantra Morcha
During the “Arab Spring,” online activists led uprisings in a dozen countries across North Africa and the Middle East. At first, digital media allowed pro-democracy movements to use the internet against authoritarian regimes; however, these regimes eventually worked social media into their own counter-insurgency strategies. Digital media helped to turn individualized, localized, and community-specific dissent into structured movements with a collective consciousness about both shared grievances and opportunities for action
The Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 video was released March 5, 2012, initiating an online grassroots campaign for the search and arrest of Joseph Kony. Invisible Children, the non-profit organization responsible for this video campaign, was founded on the mission to bring awareness to the vile actions of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), located in Central Africa, and the arrest of its leader, Joseph Kony. In the video, Jason Russell, one of the founders of Invisible Children, says that “the problem is that 99% of the planet doesn’t know who [Kony] is” and the only way to stop him is by having enough support from the people to convince the government continue the hunt for him.So, Invisible Children’s purpose for the video was to raise awareness by making Kony famous through the ever-expanding market of social media, and to use the technology we have today to bring his crimes to light.
7)Long March in Pakistan against govt. corruption.
8))Concept that can be used in the essay :-
E-Democracy -E-democracy, also known as digital democracy or Internet democracy, incorporates 21st-century information and communications technology to promote democracy. It is a form of government in which all adult citizens are presumed to be eligible to participate equally in the proposal, development, and creation of laws.E-democracy encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination. (Check the reference Material)
E-Democracy, E-Governance and Public Net-Work
While the art and practice of government policy-making, citizen participation, and public work is quite complex, the following illustration provides a simple framework used in this paper:
In this model of traditional government policy-making:
1. Citizens provide occasional input between elections and pay taxes.2. Power in the Governance infrastructure is centered with political leaders who determine broad policy priorities and distribute resources based on those priorities and existing programs and legal requirements.
3. Through government directly, and other publicly funded organizations, Public Work represents the implementation of the policy agenda and law.
Over time of course, bureaucratic barriers to reform make it difficult for leaders to recognize changes in citizen needs and priorities. Citizen input, outside of elections, often has a difficult time getting through. Disconnects among citizens, leaders, and those who implement public work are often based on the inability to easily communicate through and across these groups.
As our one-way broadcast world becomes increasingly two-way, will the governance process gain the ability to listen and respond more effectively?
The information-age, led by Internet content, software, technology, and connectivity, is changing society and the way we can best meet public challenges. E-democracy, e-governance, and public net-work are three interrelated concepts that will help us map out our opportunity to more effectively participate, govern, and do public work.
E-democracy is a term that elicits a wide range of reactions. Is it part of an inevitable technology driven revolution? Will it bring about direct voting on every issue under the sun via the Internet? Is this just a lot of hype? And so on. (The answers … no, no, and no.)
Just as there are many different definitions of democracy and many more operating practices, e-democracy as a concept is easily lost in the clouds. Developing a practical definition of E-Democracy is essential to help us sustain and adapt everyday representative democratic governance in the information age.
E-Democracy is the use of information and communications technologies and strategies by “democratic sectors” within the political processes of local communities, states/regions, nations and on the global stage.
The “democratic sectors” include the following democratic actors:
- Elected officials
- Media (and major online Portals)
- Political parties and interest groups
- Civil society organizations
- International governmental organizations
Current E-Democracy Activities
Each sector often views its new online developments in isolation. They are relatively unaware of the online activities of the other sectors. Those working to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve or enhance democratic practices are finding e-democracy a lot more challenging to implement than speculating on its potential. This is why it is essential for the best e-democracy lessons and practices to be documented and shared.
This simplified model illustrates e-democracy activities as a whole. Building on the first diagram it, sits as a filter on the “input” border between citizens and governance in first diagram:
Governments provide extensive access to information and interact electronically with citizens, political groups run online advocacy campaigns and political parties campaign online, and the media and portal/search sites play a crucial role in providing news and online navigation. In this model, the “Private Sector” represents commercially driven connectivity, software, and technology. This is the whole of e-democracy.
E-democracy is not evolving in a vacuum with these sectors only. Technology enhancements and online trends from all corners of the Internet are continuously being adopted and adapted for political and governance purposes. This is one of the more exciting opportunities as e-mail, wireless networking, personalization, weblogs, and other tools move in from other online content, commerce, and technology areas and bring innovation and the opportunity for change with them.
Looking to the center of model, the only ones who experience “e-democracy” as a whole are “citizens.” In more “wired” countries most citizens are experiencing information-age democracy as “e-citizens” at some level of governance and public life. In developing countries, e-democracy is just as important, but exists as more of an institution-to-institution relationship. In all countries, the influence of “e-democracy” actually reaches most of the public through its influence on the traditional media and through word of mouth via influential members of the community.
“E-Citizens” – Greater Citizen Participation?
To many, e-democracy suggests greater and more active citizen participation enabled by the Internet, mobile communications, and other technologies in today’s representative democracy. It also suggests a different role for government and more participatory forms of direct citizen involvement in efforts to address public challenges. (Think e-volunteerism over e-voting.)
Some take this further and view the information revolution as an inherently democratic “disruptive technology” that will dramatically change politics for the better. This view has diminished considerably, as existing democratic actors have demonstrated their ability to incorporate new technologies and online communication strategies into their own activities and protect their existing interests. They have to in order to survive.
In the future, most “e-democracy” development will naturally result from ICT-accelerated competition among the various political forces in society. We are experiencing a dramatic “e-democracy evolution.” In this evolution, the role, interests, and the current and future activities of all actors is not yet well understood. There is still an opportunity to influence its development for the better.
Things will change, but as each democratic sector advances their online activities, democratic intent will be required to achieve the greater goals of democracy.
Whether a local government or a United Nations agency, government institutions are making significant investments in the use of ICTs in their work. They are expressing “democratic intent.” Their efforts make this one of the most dynamic and important areas of e-democracy development.
There are distinct differences in how representative institutions and elected officials use ICTs compared to administrative agencies and departments. The use of ICTs by parliaments, heads of state/government, and local councils (and elected officials in these institutions) lags significantly behind the administrative-based e-government service and portal efforts. This is a services first, democracy later approach.
This focus of e-government resources on services does not mean that e-democracy is not gaining increased attention in some governments. In fact, leading e-service governments are now at a point where they are exploring their e-democracy responsibilities more seriously.
Goals for E-Democracy in Governance
Investment in traditional e-government service delivery is justified based on the provision of greater citizen convenience and the often-elusive goal of cost-savings. Goals for e-government in governance that promote democracy and effective governance include:
1. Improved government decisions2. Increased citizen trust in government
3. Increased government accountability and transparency
4. Ability to accommodate the public will in the information-age
5. To effectively involve stakeholders, including NGOs, business, and interested citizen in new ways of meeting public challenges (see public net-work below)
The first area of government e-democracy exploration has focused on consultation within executive policy-making processes. Governments, like the United Kingdom and Canada, are taking their consultative frameworks and adapting them to the online environment. New Zealand and Canada now have special portals dedicated to promote the open consultations across their governments. This includes traditional off-line opportunities as well as those where online input is encouraged. Across the UK, a number of “online consultations” have been deployed to gather special citizen input via the Internet.
Accountability, Trust, the Public Will
These three themes are emerging on the e-democracy agenda. Building government accountability and transparency are a significant focus of e-government in many developing countries. E-government is viewed an anti-corruption tool in places like South Korea, Mexico, and others. Trust, while an important goal, can only be measured in the abstract. Establishing a causal relationship between e-government/e-democracy experiences and increased levels of trust will be difficult.
Ultimately, the main challenge for governance in the information age will be accommodating the will of the people in many small and large ways online. The great unknown is whether citizen and political institutional use of this new medium will lead to more responsive government or whether the noise generated by competing interests online will make governance more difficult. It is possible that current use of ICTs in government and politics, which are often not formulated with democratic intent, will actually make governance less responsive.
One thing is clear, the Internet can be used to effectively organize protests and to support specific advocacy causes. The social networks online are very dynamic and governments need to be prepared to accommodate and react to “electric floods.” When something happens that causes a flood, people will expect government to engage them via this medium or citizens will instead view government as increasingly unresponsive and disconnected with society they are to serve.
Public net-work is a new concept. It represents the strategic use of ICTs to better implement established public policy goals and programs through direct and diverse stakeholder involvement online.
If e-democracy in government represents input into governance, then public net-work represents participative output using the same or similar online tools. Public net-work is a selective, yet public, approach that uses two-way online information exchange to carry out previously determined government policy.
Building on the first diagram, the following “bow-tie” model suggests a more fluid communication environment that can be used to bring citizens and public work stakeholders closer to the center of governance. It also suggests that policy leaders can reach out and develop closer relationships with citizens and stakeholders.
What are public net-work projects?
Public net-work projects have the following things in common:
1. They are designed to facilitate the online exchange of information, knowledge and/or experience among those doing similar public work.2. They are hosted or funded by government agencies, intergovernmental associations, international government bodies, partnerships involving many public entities, non-governmental organizations, and sometimes foundations or companies.
3. While they are generally open to the public, they are focused on specific issues that attract niche stakeholder involvement from other government agencies, local governments, non-governmental organizations, and interested citizens. Essentially any individual or group willing to work with the government to meet public challenges may be included. However, invite-only initiatives with a broader base of participants are very similar to more strictly defined “open” public net-work initiatives.
4. In a time of scare resources, public net-work is designed to help governments more effectively pursue their established missions in a collaborative and sustainable manner.
In order to work, public net-work initiative hosts need to shift from the role of “top experts” or “sole providers” of public services to facilitators of those working to solve similar public problems. Public net-work moves beyond “one-way” information and service delivery toward “two-way” and “many-to-many” exchange of information, knowledge, and experience.
Publicly accessible public net-work projects currently use a mix of ICT tools available. The successful projects adopt new technologies and strategies on an incremental trial and error basis. Unleashing all of the latest tools and techniques without a user base may actually reduce project momentum and user participation.
To succeed, these projects must adapt emerging models of distributed information input and information sharing and develop models for sustained knowledge exchange/discussion. They must also build from the existing knowledge about online communities, virtual libraries, e-newsletters, and Communities of Practice/Interest.
Some of the specific online features include:
1. Topical Portal – The starting point for public net-work is a web site that provides users a directory to relevant information resources in their field – these often include annotated subject guide links and/or standard Yahoo-style categories.2. E-mail Newsletter – Most projects keep people up-to-date via regularly produced e-mail newsletters. This human edited form of communication is essential to draw people back to the site and can be used to foster a form of high value interaction that helps people feel like they are part of the effort.
3. Personalization with E-mail Notification – Some sites allow users to create personal settings that track and notify them about new online resources of interest. New resources and links to external information are often placed deep within an overall site and “What’s New” notification dramatically increases the value provided by the project to its users.
4. Event Calendar – Many sites are a reliable place to discover listings of key current events and conferences.
5. FAQ and Question Exchange – A list of answers to frequently asked questions as well as the regular solicitation of new or timely questions from participants. Answers are then gathered from other participants and shared with all via the web site and/or e-newsletter.
6. Document Library – Some sites move beyond the portal directory function and gather the full text of documents. This provides a reliable long-term source of quality content that often appears and is removed from other web sites without notice.
7. Discussions – Using a mix of e-mail lists and/or web forums, these sites encourage ongoing and informal information exchange. This is where the “life” of the public net-work online community is often expressed.
8. Other features include news headline links from outside sources, a member directory, and real-time online features.
1. Government partnerships, with their public missions and resources, often make ideal hosts for broad, horizontal information exchange. Government departments that feel their status/purpose will be threatened by shifting from an expert gatekeeper to an involved facilitator are not ideal hosts.2. All online features must be designed with the end user in mind. They must be usable and easy to learn. Complex systems reduce the size of the participatory audience – public net-work cannot rely on an internal office environment where people are required to learn new systems or use specialty software beyond e-mail and a web browser. To provide a strong incentive, these systems must save the time it takes those implementing public policy to do their job effectively.
3. Public net-work sites broaden the awareness of quality information resources on a timely basis. Finding what you need, when you need it is more likely to occur when a community of interest participates in building a comprehensive resource. However, over time these sites will naturally face currency issues that must be handled. There are limits to the value of information exchange. Too much information, or bad information, can paralyze decision-making or distract people from the task at hand. All good things should be taken in moderation.
4. Building trust among the organizations and individuals participating in the development and everyday use of a collaborative site is essential. This relates to developing the “neutral host” facilitation role, along with sustained funding, by the host. Special care must be taken when building partner relationships and host “branding” kept to a minimum. Partnerships, with clear responsibilities and goals, will better position efforts as a truly participatory community projects.
5. Gathering and sharing incentives, particularly for resource links is a particularly tricky area. Involving people with solid librarianship and communication skill sets is essential. Creating a more sustainable model where participants more actively submit information (e.g. seeking submissions from users for more than 5% of link listings for example) is an ongoing challenge. In-kind partnerships where staff time is donated may be more effective than relying on the time of unaffiliated individual volunteers. With more localized efforts, individual volunteers may be the best or only option.
6. Informal information sharing has tremendous potential. To effectively encourage horizontal communication, facilitation is often required. Projects must leverage existing online communities and be willing to use technologies, like e-mail lists if that is what people will actually use. In my opinion, the CommunityBuilder.NSW site is one of the few sites that effectively integrate e-mail and web technology to support sustained online deliberation and information exchange.
7. The connection to decision-makers and authority is significant. Government-led public net-work projects require political leadership and strong management support. Paradoxically, an effective online involvement program on the implementation side of government, if connected to government leaders, may operate as an “early warning system” and allow government to adapt policy with fewer political challenges.
To be involved in defining the future of democracy, governance and public work at the dawn of the information-age is an incredible opportunity and responsibility. With the intelligent and effective application of ICTs, combined with democratic intent, we can make governments more responsive, we can connect citizens to effectively meet public challenges, and ultimately, we can build a more sustainable future for the benefit of the whole of society and world in which we live.
1) You can start your essay with an example (contemporary) or use a quote ( There is barely any quote on technology and democracy, however the essay topic itself is a powerful yet simple quote written by us, so if this theme comes in exam- use the topic as quote itself)
2)After a brief introduction, then think on two critical aspects – First , How technology gave more power to people and made democracy more democratic ?, Second – How technology is used for undemocratic ends ?
a)How technology gave more power to people and made democracy more democratic ?
Diversify your content by using SPELT approach and using different examples.
S-Social (Individual(Women, Youth, campaign against Child labour etc), Community and Country – connect it with social justice, right to health and various other social indicators)
P-Political (Connect it with political justice & e-voting etc) , Policy related
E-Economic (Connect it with economic justice, financial inclusion, Agriculture -Farmer dynamics etc) , Environmental (Link it with Right to healthy environment etc), Ethical(good governance and ethical governance and wiping out corruption),Educational ( Connect it with Access to education )
L-Legal (Online petition for change in bills, Govt soliciting views from citizenry on certain bills and connect it with how bill/acts are becoming citizen friendly taking their inputs in to account), also connect it with justice delivery system and how e-judiciary can deliver justice in real time.
T- Technology & Democracy – Here you can divide it in to 2 theme – first, how technology is enabling people from people’s perspective and second, how it is helping govt. to deliver better governance (speedy delivery of service etc, right to timely delivery of service and various e-platforms used for better governance – Use examples of creating data-driven smart cities or any other example such as digitization of land records thus reducing the “land mafia” etc, many other examples can be thought of)
b)How technology is used for undemocratic ends ?
Again use SPELT approach and give examples here – NSA snooping and Right to privacy. How in the name of Democracy , America is carrying out its geopolitical interests in middle-east, America attacked countries in the garb of protecting democracy yet many monarchy such as Saudi Arabia etc are still there and are not attacked (as they were allies)
C)Then you can suggest how technology is helping uncover the malafide intentions of govt. (Recently the corruption index by Transparency International has ranked India at 76th position and Iceland at 13. However, the prime minister of Iceland of resigned recently after Panama cable)
How technology is helping people bring a culture of transparency and show how it can help in implementing right to information .
In, sum think of all our fundamental rights and duties and see how technology is enabling them or eclipsing them (right to privacy). That’s the key thread that stitches through the canvas of your essay and holds it together.
The Essay in not specific about India, so use examples form around the world (as given in the previous section)
In conclusion , suggestion a way forward on how we can root out the negatives and establish a better democracy in its true spirit.