If you were to look for Indian users on Twitter by their number of followers or tweet-counts, your list would stop short of Bollywood superstars. But if you look deeper, there’s a lot going on under the surface.
Take Polgrim, for instance. This user who keeps his identity undisclosed, has a relatively small following of 2,700-odd people. But the Twitter elite, collectively called the twitterati, swear by his updates. With a master’s degree from England in Peace Studies, Polgrim who has lived in countries like Scotland, Switzerland and Jordan, curates news from journalists across the world, with a special focus on the Middle East.
“I started using Twitter when I was living in Aman, Jordan. I did a documentation of the taxi drivers there — I would talk to them and then tweet about it. I became a conduit between the Middle East and India so people started following me,” he says. Today, Polgrim is understood as a political activist who tweets about anti-colonialism, Israel-Palestine conflict and more. Chandni Parekh is a 28-year-old social psychologist. She consults with NGOs and runs workshops on sexuality education and sexual abuse, using the Twitter handle fundacause. “FAC is an initiative that spreads the word about people seeking and offering money for education, medical treatments and events,” she says. “Twitter has helped me reach out to those who tweet about social issues by giving them relevant resources and information to act upon.”
Sunil Abraham (sunil_abraham), executive director of Centre for Internet and Society is a research think tank. “I use Twitter to do research on Web 2.0. The old fashioned way of doing research involved geniuses locking themselves in ivory towers and publishing their work after a couple of years. We live stream and micro-blog at events to keep our readers informed,” he says. Finally, columnist and literary critic Nilanjana Roy is nothing short of popular with over 22,000 followers. She ran the popular blog, Kitabkhana, for many years under an alias. “I link stories and essays that are of interest to me — about books, reading, food and travel, with occasional links to women’s issues and human rights commentary,” she says. “I don’t know why people follow me, but if they share in my sense of happiness at some of the great writing that’s available online, I’m happy for them,” she adds.