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Democracy 2.0 - Remodelling democractic practices for information society

The old democractic processes are fast becoing obselete in the age of information society. The ICTs and mobile technologies have a great potential for remodelling citizen government interactions in the light of 21st century technologies. m-Government is the next mega transformation.

India is considered as one of the most vibrant democracies in the World. However, political events in past few months in India have forced many of think whether the current democratic practices are fast becoming obsolete? I would like to site the following examples to make the case clearer:

While 93% (approx) of the citizens (as per the polling done by a few TV channels and newspapers) wanted Mr. A.P. J. Abdul Kalam as the president, our elected representatives chose the other way. In another similar case, while majority of the countrymen are in favor on the nuclear deal with USA (again indicated by the polling conducted by TV channels and newspapers), a section of the elected representatives have decided to oppose the initiative at its final state and threatened to pull down the government.

I am not arguing the merits of the decisions taken by the political parties; however this raises some serious questions and the most important of them is –whether the democratic practices are becoming obsolete? Do we elect representatives to represent the aspirations and views of their constituencies or do we elect rulers to rule us for a period of five years? Most of the incidents point that once elected, the elected representatives pursue their party and personal aspirations rather than of those who elect them to parliament and legislative assembly.

The present democratic processes were devised in an age when information technologies were not prevalent and there were not enough means for citizens to communicate their opinions and aspiration on every significant national and international issue. But  now that use of ICTs and telecommunication tools fast becoming the second nature of emerging information society , use of ICTs and mobile technologies in a continuous citizen government interaction has the potential of reforming the democratic practices. The use of ICT is fast becoming prevalent in all areas of economic and social life , but is being largely ignored in political and democratic processes.

One of the examples of successful use of information and communication technologies recently came in light when the seven wonders of the world were chosen by collecting opinions of people from across the world through internet and mobile based voting. Such examples are the beginning of the new ways of democratic practices and decision making.

With the penetration of mobile phones increasing at the phenomenal rate, even those who were on the wrong side of the digital divide are being mainstreamed and have means of participating in the new age society interactions through their mobile devices.

Is this the beginning of Democracy version 2.0 for the 21st century knowledge society?

I would like to invite the readers and the members of the community to communicate their comments on the issue and also forward any innovative ideas for making democratic practices compatible with the emerging information society.


signaturessignatures

Vikas Kanungo

Editor

begenning of democracy version 2

Posted by priyanka at 2007-09-04 04:00

It wont be exactly the beginning of second type of democracy but yes the transition has taken place through mobile. Before Taj issue we all saw the result of Ms. Lal's murder acse wherein through mobile a campaign was started and the result was taht of reopening of case of Ms. Jessica Lal which gave her sister a new hope to win the case and the same happened. Therefore,, its certainlty a revolution can be called social revolution /revolt through mobile against injustice for one reason.

Remodelling democractic practices for information society

Posted by malathi41 at 2007-09-08 17:56

Widening the reach of democracy through digital participation particularly though the use of mobile technology is indeed an unprecedented and modern democratic process which has a huge potential of changing the very concept of participation. And the interventions of a vibrant and pulsating citizenery in changing the course of even judicial process (as in the Jessica Lal case)could not have been thought possible in the earlier age. However, mere participation does not translate into representation. There is in fact a growing mismatch between participation and representation even though the access to information through mobile technology along with convergence technologies like the television has become that much easier. If one looks at just teledensity, there is a huge rural urban gap in India. Therefore what is projected as the majority public opinion sometimes turns out to be basically the public opinion of those who are participating through mobile technology in the metros and largely urban areas. This is typically reflected in the total disjoint between the result of the online polls (as in the case of the nomination for the President's Office) and the actual reality on the ground in terms of the final outcome. Can it be said that the final outcome in the Presidential election is not a reflection of the public opinion? After all the elected political leaders are supposed to be representatives of the people? Therefore which opinion is the public opinion finally which is truly representative and which is reflected in the Indian Democracy? The difference between the TV channel polls and the final outcome shows that the virtual participation (even if 95%) does not necessarily represent the entire spectrum of views. The point therefore is that there is a growing chasm betweem participation and representation even though participation has expanded in our democracy like never before, through mobile technology. Unless it brings in its loop the last digital node, digital democracy will remain limited to that extent and will fail to really achieve representation which is congruent to participation. Hence the urgent need to expand mobile technology covering every nook and corner of our country including the rural and interior areas.

Farer eGovernace

Posted by Borzykh_A at 2007-09-09 07:20

Dr. Vikas Kanungo wrote. I am not arguing the merits of the decisions taken by the political parties; however this raises some serious questions and the most important of them is -whether the democratic practices are becoming obsolete? Do we elect representatives to represent the aspirations and views of their constituencies or do we elect rulers to rule us for a period of five years? Most of the incidents point that once elected, the elected representatives pursue their party and personal aspirations rather than of those who elect them to parliament and legislative assembly. Comment. Let's think farer and widely. "Do we elect representatives to represent the aspirations and views of their constituencies or do we elect rulers to rule us for a period of five years?' is usual question. But it is question without deep rethinking. We should think in such form. 1. For which social activities I need in any representatives such as a president, a parlamentman, local governor and etc. ? And when I would present my vote himself? 2. Do we have need in constant systems of voted representatives?

Regards, Andrey A. Borzykh, http://inc.kursknet.ru/shzenoke.htm Russian State Social University

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