FB campaign spurs govt into action

When Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced his decision to bring out a student entrepreneurship policy within a month at the Emerging Kerala summit on September 12, very few thought that the policy will be in place within the deadline.

By T K Devasia (Kerala Buzz)

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Published: Sat 20 Oct 2012, 12:10 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 1:20 PM

But to the pleasant surprise of everybody the policy along with an executive order was out on the 30th day of the announcement. This is astonishing to those who are familiar with the government functioning because the process of a policy formulation has to go through many layers of government.

In the case of the student entrepreneurship policy, the government had to consult various departments, academic community and industry besides getting nod of the universities. This would have normally taken six months to one year, but the government machinery worked over time and helped Chandy keep his word.

This incredible fete was largely the result of the pressure from entrepreneurial enthusiasts through social networking sites. Spearheaded by students of the Trivandrum Engineering College, the movement titled “30 days to freedom” went viral in Facebook with not only students from other engineering colleges but also people from different walks of life including celebrities joining the countdown campaign.

The government could apparently not ignore the massive upsurge. The impact has been much more effective than that of street protests and campaigns that people traditionally carry out to draw the attention of the government towards various issues.

The success of the “30 days to freedom” movement shows social networking sites can be an effective mode of protests at a time when traditional modes of protests like shutdown that affect the movement of the people are facing opposition from people and courts.

Though the high court has banned hartal and wayside meetings, political parties and their feeder organisations continued to resort to these traditional modes of protests saying they were the only medium available to the people to register their protests.

Different departments of the government in the state have active presence in the social networking states. The tourism department has been making use of social networking sites, social bookmarking sites, messages boards/internet forums, blogs and micro blogs to market the state.

A Facebook collective launched by the state police in July this year has attracted over 17,100 followers in just three months. The state has topped in the implementation of the ‘e-district’ project launched by the federal government. Kannur and Palghat districts, where the project was launched along with 33 other districts in the country, have issued one million e-certificates in two years.

Kerala has also become the first state in the country to have a digital super highway that is likely to revolutionise functioning of local bodies.

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