India’s film stars have taken to blogging with a vengeance—though right now they seem busier sniping at each other online than saying anything substantive about their work and art. Yet, our ministers and corporate bosses should learn from them and try to use the new medium to reach out directly to their constituencies and stakeholders as well.
Take a look at Amitabh Bachchan’s blog. The last time we checked it, some of his posts were getting comments in excess of 700. That’s on a par with what some of the world’s cult bloggers can boast of. The Huffington Post was managing with around 300 comments on most posts, though a recent one by Arianna Huffington on Hillary Clinton raked in more than 1,700 comments from readers. But Bachchan seems to be doing better than Scott Adam on his cult Dilbert blog.
A lot of the current excitement over celebrity blogging in India is undoubtedly because of its novelty value. But the fact that people are logging on to read what the stars have to say—without the intermediation of the Page 3 press—shows that the online world in India can no longer be ignored.
That’s why we are disappointed that more politicians and CEOs are not blogging. They should learn from the West, where the blogging virus has gradually spread to the upper reaches of the power pyramid. Then there are the corporate and institutional blogs—such as the ones that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have. Many tenured professors, too, are committed bloggers. The quest to reach out is part ego, but more importantly it shows that you care for the people whom you lead, entertain, employ and sell to.
Blogging does have some obvious limitations in India, chief among them being illiteracy and inadequate access to computers. But, as Bachchan has realized, there is a growing online community that can be addressed directly—and that will flood your inbox with comments that, as Bachchan says he has realized, will have “ugly abuses” and “healthy criticism”.
The question is whether Indian politicians and CEOs want to face both. It is something of a test of democratic intent.
Why do we not have more blogs by politicians and CEOs in India? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org