June 09, 2006

Mylapore MLA to interact with public, on the Net

S. Ve. Shekher, Mylapore's newly elected MLA, has two G-mail accounts.
Now, 'Mylapore Times', the neighbourhood newspaper, has created a blog on the Net dedicated to the MLA and to the constituency.
Perhaps this is a 'first of its kind' development of using technology to further grassroot democracy just weeks after the new state Assembly was constituted.
Interestingly, the man who lost closely in Mylapore, Napoleon, had launched his own web site a fortnight before polling day.
http://www.iamformylapore.com/ may not have been a comprehensive web site, but the actor-candidate took the trouble to compile and post data on a host of utility services, landmarks and key public institutions in the constituency.The site even had a list of prominent super markets and well-located pharmacies.
There was also a provision made for people to post issues that they wanted their MLA to address with a simple e-form that would have hardly confused even a senior citizen of the area who uses the computer to send e-mails to his offsprings and to talk to them in an emergency.
Napoleon lost the election but his challenger and the victor has quickly seen the need to make public his cell phone number and create e-mail accounts for people to gain access easily.
So then, what was the need for a Net blog?
First. To provide a more transparent, easy and simple communication channel to the MLA and to people of the constituency.
Two. To provide space for the MLA to articulate his views and ideas.
Three. To provide space for people to discuss local politics, civic issues and public campaigns intensely at a time when debates and public spaces have shrunk.
Four. To have a mechanism by which the progress of projects and the response to promises and queries can be publicly documented.
Five. Post news and pictorial coverage of the MLA's meetings, interfaces and projects.
We at 'Mylapore Times' are only keen to further communication and interaction on a continuous basis between people and the MLA.
Yes, we will also be keen to find out if these communication tools are useful in grassroot democratic developments.
There is at least one major drawback here.
The poor and disadvantaged sections of the constituency will not be able to use these tools.
On behalf of them, we intend to report on the issues that affect these communities and post them on the blog.\nIn doing all this, we will be going beyond the brief of a newspaper and stepping into what in, the West, is known as 'civic journalism'.
Let us see what comes out of this exercise

1 comment:

kpks said...

Tchah! You beat me to it!

I had been meaning to contact you for well over 6 months and suggest you archive some of the articles and information in adyar times in a blog and even offer my services to help set it up.

ANd yesterday I finally noticed you already have one!

How about expanding what is available in the blog? Archiving useful information which comes in your paper from time to time? Case in point: Contact information for the Nandini Voice For the Deprived.

Great Job!