“We have to not just open our eyes to what’s going on in other places; we need to open our eyes to what’s going on right in front of us.” —Forest Whitaker, artist and UNESCO goodwill ambassador
Last month, I attended the post India +Social Good briefing and brainstorming meeting organized by the United Nations Foundation in Washington DC with many others from the civil society, who passionately work towards making new innovations using the new media but also find solutions to the growing challenges to the world’s most burning issues. It was extremely stimulating to hear stories of success and questions full of curious calibrations on the measurement of such an impactful form of development.
The India +Social Good Summit took place in Mumbai, India on April 9th 2014. It brought together influencing voices from a country with more than 1 billion people who are passionate about creating the hardest to find innovations. It is inspiring to see how the journey of Social good has reached its feat in its present avatar. Connecting the dots with the bits and bytes of modern day technology, the digital media is doing good for individuals around the world. There is also a good amount of those who are still neo’s or have no access to technology. That’s where the idea of social good comes in.
As an example, India had reached it’s peak on the social media platform back in 2011, right after the triple Mumbai bomb blasts. The city of Mumbai in India was made target of triple bomb blasts by terrorists. Seventeen people were killed and 130 were injured in these blasts. All three blasts took place within a time period of 10 minutes. What followed the blasts, apart from the loss of many lives, injuries and a loss of assets, was a complete state of panic and chaos in the entire city of Mumbai. There was extreme commotion on streets, telephone lines were jammed and people were left stranded and helpless. At such an hour, when telephone and mobile lines were jammed, Internet and social media came to the rescue of many. Soon after the explosions, the activity on online social websites increased manifold, users on Facebook and Twitter posted updates about news, the information about their whereabouts, news of their well-being and helped those in need.
Most recently, the Delhi Rape case brought mass rage throughout the globe over social media and on the ground. Many of us in New Delhi the capital of India were creating awareness online about this brutal attack on a 23 year old girl. The social media was our way to reach thousands of young people over the digital platform to come out on the roads and protest against government negligence and slackness to get out to seek a strong reform in the criminal justice system. The result of this is now measured as the most successful outcomes in the social media history. Voices online and on the ground became fiery, lawmakers were pushed to act upon taking stronger decisions and make amendments to the Criminal Amendment Act. A new law which has somewhat started taking things seriously!
The Social media platform, emerged as a vast data source of information and support about what followed as an aftermath of the events not only in Mumbai but all over the world by an individual who took the responsibility to get together masses. There were real time spreadsheet for closest blood banks in Mumbai. Examples such as this boost impact, boost research, boost capacities offline to what lacks currently is the documentation of the work offline done by India’s large development sector. With social media leading and driving the pace for digital development the need of the hour is to build a movement of creating such documentation and awareness.
Social Media can be a big game changer, as a social media enthusiast and a social development leader, I can strongly vouch for it. It is like the speed of light traveling around the universe opening up new avenues for change and development.
“The Internet is allowing for us to really experience people in some of the most distant places in the world — as other people just like us. So get to know people, seek out bloggers from a country you’re kind of curious about. It’s about building empathy and breaking through to the point of recognizing people as people.” — Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia
One last thought: We should remember to keep it real with the competitive nature of technology. It is to have a clear vision with focus on the right kind of messaging that will make an idea sustainable.
Photos Courtesy: Google Images
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