Can the competing social media campaigns by Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi influence the hearts and minds of youth?
Like the US presidential elections, will the 2014 general elections in India be won or lost on the basis of performance on television and social networking sites?
These were some issues discussed by students of the department of journalism and mass communication at the Himachal Pradesh University here at a two-day seminar which concluded Friday.
N.A.K. Durrani, professor at Aligarh Muslim University, asserted that social media presents many opportunities and challenges to the youth today.
He said, "One cannot undermine the fact that the social media has emerged as an important tool in the communication matrix. There is no denying the fact that the social media is being misused at times by unscrupulous people. But the day is not far when the social media channels will have to regulate the content."
Talking about the opportunities presented by social media for the evolution of the public sphere, Himachal Pradesh University department of journalism chairperson Vir Bala Aggarwal explained how coffee houses and public meeting places in earlier times acted as platforms for discussing various issues.
"With the advent of the mass media, as the people were reduced to audiences at the receiving end, the public sphere suffered a set-back." However, she hoped that with the advent of the social media, the public sphere will get strengthened.
Vikas Dogra, assistant professor in the same department, said as a tool for communication, the social media, including social networking sites, is still in its nascent stage.