Communicating via Twitter and other modes of social media as well as through newspaper and television works for the articulate and better-off classes but how does a government communicate with a large section of Indian society, which does not have access to television or the Internet?
The following facts bear out the enormity and extent of the communication challenges before any central government.
The population of India is approximately 1,240 million and nearly 820 million are eligible voters. Even with an extremely low level of income benchmark for poverty measurement, nearly 12% of our population are still living below the poverty line (ie, living on less than `30 a day), which makes for a enormous 150 million. One can safely assume that a great majority of this population is also illiterate.
Half the 220 million households in India do not own a television set, which means more than 600 million Indians cannot be reached through television. There is also a great regional divide in television ownership. While Tamil Nadu has the highest television ownership or television penetration with 90% of all households having a television set, Bihar has the lowest television ownership with just 14.5% of households having a television set. States like Delhi and Punjab, and Chandigarh have over 80% ownership but the figure for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Assam is below 50%.
Similarly, the radio’s spread is also limited. Newspapers’ limitation is that only literates can access them.
Of the 29 states, the BJP and its allies rule only eight. With just 31% of votes polled in 2014, the BJP has the least voting share for any party to win a majority in the Lok Sabha in India’s electoral history. How the Modi government responds to this communication challenge will be keenly watched.
Krishna Pandey is an academic associate with Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi
The views expressed by the author are personal