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Twestival comes to Mumbai

india Updated: Sep 30, 2009 16:22 IST
Sneha Mahale
Sneha Mahale
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

A new Twitter-based festival is aiming to help local charities and businesses. Named Twestival, it is described as a Twitter fest that will happen around the world next weekend from September 10-13. The motive behind the festival is to encourage people to shop at their favourite businesses, donate to a local charity, and let everyone know about the cause.

The festival concept came about in September last year, when a group of London Twitter users decided to host an event called the Harvest Twestival. The fest was sponsored entirely by tweeters (as Twitter users are referred to). Via this network, the group was able to raise money and canned food for a London based non-profit organisation called The Connection.

A similar fest also took place earlier this year, in February. Organised on a global scale, the Twestival brought together Twitter communities and raised a whopping $250,000 for Charity: Water, a non-profit organisation that works towards bringing clean water to the developing world. Tanvi Singh, who happened to be in New York when the Twestival took place, is amazed at the reaction the event garnered. “People put in a lot of effort to ensure that the cause was highlighted. It helped that the event was blown up by the media there.”

Yet, tweeters are more excited about the fest scheduled to happen this month. As Singh says, “It is more like taking a grassroots approach, asking cities around the world to host events in support of a local cause on one day.” Apart from cities like Beijing, Munich, Venezuela, San Francisco and New York City, Twestival, for the first time will also include several Indian cities.

Currently, tweeters from five Indian cities have already confirmed participation. The cities include Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and New Delhi. And there are hopes that Pune and Kolkata too will join the brigade. Incidentally, Bangalore had participated in the Twestival held earlier this year but managed to raise only Rs 5000 for the charity, as the efforts were last minute.

Better prepared
This time though some cities are better prepared, with Bangalore and Mumbai currently zeroed in on the cause. While the Garden City will support local charity Dream a Dream, which works with disadvantaged children, Mumbai is raising funds for Help a Child, which provides financial aid to children who can’t afford an education. Mumbai-based student, Pooja, who’s on Twitter, says, “This time, the organisers around the world are planning to have the event in such a way that people feel involved. They want people to have a fun while raising money.”

Surprisingly, Mumbai’s Twestival is being spearheaded by Monik Pamecha, a blogger who has 16,499 followers on Twitter. Also, all the Mumbai Twestival’s volunteers were found on Twitter, and they will use the tool to publicise an event they plan to hold to support Help a Child.

Yet there are few who are skeptical if the event will turn out to be a success. Rahul Sanghia, a student is unsure how the Twestival will play out in India. He says, “Raising money via Twitter is popular abroad. But I’m unsure whether it will appeal to Indian tweeters in the same fashion.”

Another major obstacle is the reach of Twitter. Somebody might identify with the cause, but just because they aren’t on Twitter may not be able to be a part of the cause. Though most seem confident that as India’s Twitter base grows, raising money through the medium will also become easier. Vishal Jain, an investment banker, says, “Obstacles arise with every new technology, be it Orkut, Facebook or Twitter. Since

Twitter is a new medium in India, it is still in its growth stage. We are definitely in a much better position as compared to six months ago and ultimately let’s not forget, it’s all for a good cause.”