What is the scope of online activism in India vis a vis global movements?
Online activism is a fairly new and growing space in India. Apart from Change.org, there are organisations like Greenpeace and Amnesty that are pioneering in this field. At Change.org our focus is in building tools to enable individuals to bring about positive change. We believe that with the right tools, citizens can engage more actively in democracy.
Given the fast growing internet user-base in India (currently at over 120 million users), the scope of online tools to bring about social change is immense. As more people get used to the idea of online-campaigns the role of the internet in bringing about change will become more apparent.
What goes into the making of a successful online campaign?
The Internet enables easy mobilisation around an issue, there are different kinds of online campaigns, from the more organic campaign like the Pink Chaddi campaign, to the more strategic campaigns by Greenpeace.
Change.org helps individuals define their campaign in terms of two key areas — the demand (a clear, short statement of what needs to be changed), the target (the decision-maker who has the authority to make the change). We also encourage users to provide the email ids of the target(s), so that each signature reaches them via email, thus acting as a first point of engagement. We also find that a compelling image or video and a short description of why people should support the issue significantly helps in getting more signatures.
From there on every campaign has it’s own pathway. Some campaigns can be successful just with this — we have seen net-savvy decision-makers respond to a petition within 24 hours and take action. The show-cause notice issued by Ajay Maken to the Paralympic Committee Of India in the Paralympians case was an example of a minister taking immediate cognisance of an issue.
Other campaigns might need further steps to translate the public-pressure into something tangible for the decision-maker. Each campaign needs it’s own customised strategy after the issue is analysed and we provide support to key campaigns on the platform.