Anatomy of a modern-day Indian election

T TV Monday 08/April/2019 19:02 PM
By: Times News Service


- In 7 phases starting on 11 April, over 900 million people will take part in the world's biggest democratic exercise when they vote in India's elections. Technology could hold the key between victory and defeat for the 48 parties vying for power in the country.

- To get ahead, parties now employ political consultancy firms that have been formed exclusively to offer a technological and data-driven edge. These consultancies employ many young professionals from varied backgrounds like media, management, software development, law, design. They help parties spread their messages, gather intel, and leverage vote banks.

- Political parties use unemployed youths to work in call centres and on social media teams. Burner phones are used to call remote villages and spread pre-recorded messages all over the country.

- Compiled data are then forwarded to their consultancy's planning team. The teams tailor events, rallies and programs for local leaders to sway voters.

- Social media teams focus on enhancing the credentials of their candidate, tarnishing the image of the opposition and using fake news against them. Typically, they spread fake news on Whatsapp and use Twitter bots to spread their messages.

- Youths are also hired in small cities and handed 2-3 phones to forward messages. Each phone has nearly 1000 Whatsapp groups in them, covering voters in every part of India.

- Parties use social media, call centre, and ground research teams to identify keywords and pressure points. They tailor ads to them that are rolled out across all media platforms.