Over the next 35 days, 814 million Indians are expected to vote in the general elections. Of this number, around 72mn are voters in the age group of 18-23 years.
These first-time voters, or ‘born frees’ as The Economist describes them, are an important bloc every political party is addressing.
Armed with mobile phones and tablets, this group is tech-savvy and informed.
The high level of awareness among first-time voters can be attributed to improved access to information and technology — through TV, broadband Internet and mobile phones.
According to the I-Cube 2013 report, by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and IMRB International, by June, India, with close to 250 million users, is expected to overtake the United States as the second largest Internet base in the world.
Several parties have set up IT teams to focus on online campaigning on the Internet, especially on social networking sites.
With close to 250 million Internet users, of whom 93mn have Facebook accounts and around 35mn have Twitter accounts, this is a big a segment for any party to tap. The advantages here is that the intended message reaches a greater audience in less time with lesser effort.
The flip side is that the easy access to technology has also been misused to spread mischief and hatred — as was seen in Muzaffarnagar last year.
Perhaps the most important of reasons that make this election significant is the way parties have relied on technology to reach the electorate.
Along with rallies, televised debates and door-to-door campaigning, this election has seen contestants and parties focus on social media and other Internet platforms, like blogs, advertisements, podcasts, and analytics, to reach voters.
Whatever be the outcome of the elections, one thing is certain: Technology is helping more people make a better decision about this election than ever before.