There are many who have a sense that things are not going right, and a change and challenge is needed. But every such person feels they are alone, and therefore other than speaking over encrypted messages and calls, there is a sense of helplessness. This is not a Hindi movie where one hero can take on the system and survive. And so, we build our own small world — public acquiescence and silence blended with private frustration and outspokenness. Days go by and the little remnant resistance crumbles; life gets busy with other pursuits. There is no place for the “angry young man” persona.
But what if we could create an emergent, self-organising system that can connect us together? The big difference in the past 5-10 years has been the interconnectedness among Indians. Digital has become a necessity, even as it has become an escape. A few clicks and the world’s knowledge and entertainment are available to almost every Indian household. The slow, “downloading…” connectivity has been replaced with high-speed denoted by an ever increasing “G”. Kbps has been replaced by Mbps and Gbps beckons. The phone screens have become higher resolution resembling mini-TVs. Even as personal freedoms have diminished, digital freedom has increased. The always-on, anytime-anywhere world is upon us – thanks to our smartphones (new or used).
Until a few years ago, we were limited in the number of people we could individually communicate to – via phone calls or letters. Now, our “Good Morning” message can be sent instantly to all, or a delightful video can be forwarded with a few taps to dozens via WhatsApp groups. Each of us is a creator and micro-influencer, an ant in the digital kingdom, capable of producing great outcomes even as we go about just doing what gives us joy, recognition and dopamine.
Even as the content creation and mini-distribution problems are largely solved, what is missing is the curation and mass amplification. This is what will convert the micro-moments among the anonymous to a mass movement with local leaders and champions. A cruel state can suppress a few central nodes, but is powerless against a popular distributed uprising of the many. These many, suppressed and anonymous voices need to coalesce into a larger whole, glued together by digital threads.
What the voices need is a distribution system, a pipe. Just like a vaccine when injected into the body is carried by the blood to different parts, so also the pipe must take the voices and their messages across the nation – and perhaps even outside. Even as the content factory exists and improves with each passing day, it is the pipe which is missing. Content needs creators and their creativity; the pipe needs techies and their engineering skills. It is in their marriage on which lay hopes for a free and rich India.