On 1st July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Digital India initiative. On the sidelines of this event, MyGov, a Government of India platform to connect to citizens, hosted an informal interaction with a few selected individuals. Active contributors to MyGov and other social media influencers, were handpicked for this event. They were granted an interaction with Narendra Modi at his official residence at 7 Race Course Road, from 12.00pm to 1.30pm. We talked to some of the invitees to find out what happened behind closed doors.
About 150 such individuals from all around the country were present for this once in a lifetime opportunity. The Prime Minister met each and everyone invited. Modi personally greeted everyone, shook hands and felicitated winners of the MyGov contest. He even posed for photos with each person individually, but there were no selfies, since mobile phones were not allowed.
Modi even recognized some of the prominent social media users, like Temsutula Imsong, who is doing great work cleaning up the Ghats in Varanasi. Imsong recalled that Modi had mentioned her in a tweet on 1st April 2015, for her work in Varanasi. She remembered how when her friends told her about this, she thought it was an April fool prank. But after that, she received tremendous help from people in her work.
Modi too spoke at length to all the participants. He asked his social media supporters to not use abusive language on Twitter and other social media. He stressed on speaking about “positive things in a positive manner”. He gave his own example, saying he receives loads of abusive messages all day on Social Media. “If all the abuses I receive are printed on a paper, entire premises of Taj Mahal will be covered”, he said, but he stressed that in spite of this, he hasn’t blocked anyone on twitter. Hence, he said, no matter what others do, his supporters should try to say positive things.
He also said that his website has an old blog post too, where he talks about social media, abuse and how to deal with it. He said that abusive language will finish this exciting medium and it should be used for spreading positive news.
Understanding the power of technology in our lives, Modi said that the relevance of a “thumb” has changed in our lives. Earlier a “thumb” (angootha) was used in context of illiteracy, today a thumb on mobiles, is about digital power. Further elaborating on the power of technology and social media, he said that Social Media has forced Main Stream Media to change its agenda. And because of this power that social media has, all users of social media must realize that they should behave responsibly and in an appropriate manner. In what could be a sly dig at media, he also said that some people who criticize all the time, never tolerate criticism.
The Prime Minister also thanked the MyGov users for spending their valuable time and giving suggestions on various aspects on his site. He asked them to spread the word about MyGov and keep using it regularly since he too checks the feedback he gets there. After the program, all the invitees were transported to the Indira Gandhi stadium for the official launch of Digital India week.