Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Social networking sites take up Social cause

Indians have been hearing about climatic change for some time now and the Nobel Peace Prize for Al Gore and Dr Rajendra Pachauri, who heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), led to greater awareness about the issue in India. But it was a five-minute clip on the international social networking site Facebook about the Sydney lights-off campaign that inspired a group of youngsters to launch a movement called Mumbai Unplug. They are now busy getting every Mumbaikar to switch off all electrical appliances for one hour on December 15, 2007, between 7.30 and 8.30 pm.

The Mumbai Unplug family is growing in size and stature. While there were seven people who launched the interest group initially (Keith Menon, Shiladitya Chakraborthy, Parth Thakkar, Neil Quraishy, Priyanjali Ghose, Anuradha Jasol and Rustom Warden), now there are thousands of members who have signed up as volunteers.

There is a website and a newsletter that goes out to all those who sign up, informing them of meetings and events. The movement illustrates how ordinary people on social media sites are effectively influencing public opinion.

"If you care about this planet we call home and about the life that is on it then please support this movement. We have a feeling that if this first step is placed firmly and with conviction, and critical mass is achieved, nothing is impossible and numerous other initiatives can be launched from this platform," say the initiators of the Mumbai Unplug movement.

Mumbai municipal commissioner Jairaj Pathak has come out in support, saying: "The campaign will surely draw attention towards the issue of energy conservation. But I don't know how effective it will be if it's a one-off thing."

This is not the first time that Mumbai's Net-savvy residents have undertaken such an initiative. A Facebook group started by 32-year-old Anusha Yadav in Bandra created a successful campaign for a car-free Bandra, recently. They are targeting one Sunday every two months when they can walk on the streets without choking on fumes or getting stuck in traffic jams. On November 25, from 7.59 am to 11.59 pm, they got more than 350 car-owners to abandon their wheels.

"Just wanted to see how many people would be interested in declaring one Sunday every two months a car-free day within Bandra," starts the description of the group, written by Yadav, a graphic designer.

The online drive has gathered steam and was promoted at the Celebrate Bandra festival. Bandra celebrities like model Carol Gracias, actress Konkona Sen Sharma, music director Ehsaan Noorani, and VJ Mia, are all members of the group, as is event management consultant Owen Roncon, husband of Member of Parliament Priya Dutt.

There are several people-oriented social media sites like and that get people to fund interesting causes like contributing to charity hospitals, financing expensive medical procedures, supporting poor students, or even raising money for a common business cause.

More specialised websites deal with specific issues such as environment protection, affordable healthcare and better education; other groups are dedicated to even more specific agendas -- save energy and so on.

Citizen journalism is another trend contributing to the build-up of public opinion on the Net. "The new journalism wave of citizens, crowds, bloggers, etc, disturbs conventional institutional journalism to a point that most well-known newspapers introduce in their daily menu 'bloggers' acting with a more personal touch, perhaps not so journalistic," says NowPublic (

This is yet to catch on in a meaningful way in India, but in the West, all a citizen needs to upload his news and get published is an Internet connection and membership of a participatory site. "Is it lesser news because his professional editors let him upload whatever interests him, doing only some kind of ethical filtering? Is credibility possible if and only if a real professional journalist and a real newspaper do the publishing? I would dare to say that this is not the case," says a citizen journalist on NowPublic.

Sites like, and Technorati are playing a big role in influencing public opinion on local as well as international issues. It won't be long before the trend catches on in India.


I like Orkut,which has positive side,and has many members working and promoting Social cause.Its great experience to have your own community sitting at your office and home and doing good work for the nation.

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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