After both of Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign runs in the United States, analysts pointed to his innovative use of social media, harnessing the burgeoning new means of communication becoming available to ultimately help him secure his seat in the oval office. Now, politicians are trying to woo Indians – 814 million of whom are eligible to vote in the general elections – in a last ditch effort to get elected. Taping into the millions of voters who live in far flung rural constituencies is no easy feat.
Dubbed the political Siri and set up in 2009 by Sirish and Kavita Reddi, the idea “was to use Indian language speech recognition to deliver information and access to the unconnected billion or so people and give them opportunities to drive economic growth.” Currently running in four languages, the systems set up now will prove useful and popular long after the election circus has faded into memory – paralleling the so-called Obama startups.
Over 100 million of those eligible to vote will be first time voters if they chose to engage, and swaying their opinion is a huge task. To deliver information to voters and enable them to listen to recorded answers to questions or speeches “Voxta can scale up to thousands of concurrent calls in terms of scale,” adds Sirish. It is expected the service will field over 3 million calls within a month.
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Other startups have also entered the foray, such as Frrole and Simplify360. “We are powering ‘the elections social hub for Times Of India’,” adds Amarpreet Kalkat, co-founder of Frrole, with plans also extending to Indian Express and MSN in the near future. With the outcome of voting for approximately 160 seats in the election being influenced by social media, according to IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) candidates will want to pay sharp attention.
(Image Credit: Yogesh Mhatre)