Sam Pitroda, adviser to the Prime Minister, built his reputation as a technocrat, entrepreneur and the architect of the country's telecom revolution in the eighties. On Tuesday, Pitroda added to his list of innovations when he held a Twitter press conference on "democratisation of information".
"Welcome to our 1st press conference on 'Democratization of Information' on Twitter in India. The #Hash tag for today is #DoI," he started off. Within minutes #Pitroda was trending and his Twitter handle @pitrodasam was getting hundreds of questions.
What did he mean by 'Democratization of Information'? "Information access for everyone," replied Pitroda, who advises the Prime Minister on public information infrastructure and innovations.
Speaking for a government that has been accused of trying to curtail free speech and social media, Pitroda had a lot of explaining to do when it came to explaining 'democratization of information'.
"Information is power and not many wish to share. Info is critical for development and needs to be timely available to people," he said.Pitroda deftly handled questions on internet connectivity, government websites and broadband but subtly evaded questions on censorship.
"Why is UPA then bent on censoring social media for specious reasons," asked journalist R Jagannathan, who tweets as @TheJaggi.
"Certain sensitive information will have to be controlled by the government," Pitroda replied--that was his best answer to questions like that.
Sushil Jey, who tweets as @sushiljadu, asked Pitroda about allegations that bureaucrats are "killing the whole information system".
"I am hopeful this will change," replied Pitroda.
Pitroda began the press conference at 3.30 pm and spent some 45 minutes answering questions. Twitter trolls and wits targeted him but he got a fair share of appreciation too. "I firmly believe that #Information is the 4th pillar of #democracy along with legislature, executive and judiciary," he tweeted.
Twitter user @Krupakar_M responded to Pitroda's press conference by commenting: "I think Sam Pitroda will go straight in2 PM's office &say, Sir fantastic response, we will win the next election also."
@NotThatMP responded to such comments by saying: "No point in taking Sam Pitroda's #DoI Press Conference down for hashtag problem, 'reply' button, etc. A good start that can get better."
"Sam Pitroda has is showing politicians how to do press conferences without having shoes hurled at you. Pretty simple, do it on Twitter," said @PowerPlayWorld."A statement, initiative and gesture all rolled into one. A #twitter press conference! @pitrodasam shows us how it's done," said @and_an.