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The SMS revolution

From dirty jokes and cricket scores to whipping up support for social issues, the SMS revolution has come a long way.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2006 04:06 IST

About a month back, a motley mix — from college students to P3Ps — gathered at India Gate declaring ‘the awakening of a generation’. A candle-lit demonstration protested the law’s failure to nail the accused in the Jessica Lall murder case. One thing that triggrered off the reaction was a massive SMS campaign against the verdict.

It’s a wild fire

Subsequently, Mandal ‘politics’ has seen a similar reaction. Inboxes have been flooded with this message: “It is an attack on the development of the country and on the rights of the general category. Let’s raise our voice against this cruel decision of the Government just for the sake of votes.” And when Aamir Khan agreed to support the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Tehelka, who organised the Parliament Street demonstration for the issue, launched an SMS campaign to raise awareness about the actor’s participation. Says Tehelka features editor Shoma Choudhary: “We sent out SMSes asking people to gather at the venue. Messaging helps in reaching out to people.”

Media’s role

Indeed, the media of late has played a key role in promoting SMS support. Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN cites the Rajkumar case, where the channel received over 75,000 messages. “It’s not just used for commercial purposes, he says. “Sending messages gets viewers involved. It links them directly to the issue.”

From dirty jokes to cricket scores to becoming the ‘voice of India’, SMSes have come a long way. Says Bhuvanesh Singh, third-year student of Amity Business School: “SMS and blog campaigns help voice the popular opinion.” Egged on by the Jessica SMS campaign, he launched his own campaign, inviting people to their views at his blog, voiceofindianyouth.blogspot.com.

Popular voice

And it’s not just about opinions. The SMS revolution has given people the power to choose — as in the case of sundry TV talent hunt shows. Says Viren Popli, VP (marketing interactive services), Star India: “SMS has given power to the people. It’s a simple formula that works.”