How to talk to India’s unique digital polity of first-time, non-English internet-using voters

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Source: The post is based on the article “How to talk to India’s unique digital polity of first-time, non-English internet-using voters” published in the Indian Express on 10th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance applications.

Relevance: About the first-time voters and techno-nationalism.

News: The Internet and Mobile Association of India(IAMAI) has recently released its report titled “Internet in India”.

What are the key findings of the report?

The report highlighted India’s and the world’s most unique digital polity of first-time, non-English internet users who think, act and transact “mobile first”.

With anywhere between two to eight hours of daily usage, the Indian internet user is the ideal test case for any platform or app-based service looking to tap a global audience.

Online gaming has nearly five times the number of users relative to those using the internet for online education.

Read here: Internet in India report: India to have around 900 million internet users by 2025: Report
What is the significance of first-time voters with digital knowledge?

The 2014 elections were the first time internet streaming played a significant role in disintermediating broadcast media. The 2019 elections were marked by the extensive role played by social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp.

As per the UN’s estimates for births in India, between 2002 and 2006 nearly 150 million people were born. They will be the first-time voters in the 2024 General Elections a sizable and distinct digital constituency.

This generation of first-time voters has experienced all the significant digital shifts in their formative years.

This is also the generation that had the highest exposure to online education due to Covid-19 vastly increasing their screen time and use of internet tools and services.

How India is building techno-nationalism ahead of the 2024 election?

The unique digital characteristics of India’s first-time voters will require creative approaches for political engagement ahead of the 2024 elections and require techno-nationalism.

The Election Commission of India has opened up the voter registration process once every quarter. Further, the ECI also announced further liberalisation of the voter registration process with 17-year-olds being able to register a year ahead of being eligible to vote.

Read more: India needs to replace frequent elections with One nation One election
How other countries are promoting techno-nationalism?

From securing semiconductor supply chains to regulating data flows, techno-nationalism is on the political agenda of western democracies and eastern nations alike.

Indonesia is not just controlling online gaming apps and services but also actively promoting indigenously developed gaming apps.

From Kenya to Brazil the countries are witnessing preemptive actions to insulate the electoral processes of their respective democracies from the spread of viral fake news and disinformation on WhatsApp.

Read more: [Yojana Summary] One Nation One Election
What should be done?

Over the next two years as the government seeks to put in place a comprehensive digital regulatory framework governing data, privacy, apps and algorithms, engaging the first digital generation of new voters on techno-nationalism will be crucial at every step.

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