Citizens' Issues
Social media attacks against Modi critics not directed by us: BJP IT Cell chief

Arvind Gupta, who was responding to a charge that often BJP and RSS supporters attack people who oppose Modi or his polices, at times in offensive language

 

The frenzied reactions of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters on social media against anyone strongly critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi or his policies are not organised by the party, says the cyber czar of BJP.
 
Arvind Gupta, BJP's IT cell chief, who is called an "innovation evangelist" by his office, says his job is to give out correct information. "How a particular person takes that information and communicates it is completely his or her own take. We can't control that," Gupta said in an interview to IANS.
 
Gupta, who was responding to a charge that often BJP and RSS supporters attack people who oppose Modi or his polices, at times in offensive language.
 
"Sometimes, misinformation campaigns are run by opponents and we need to counter that with correct information in real time. People have their own passion and communications styles," Gupta said, adding that "it's not possible to understand who is a member and who is not."
 
Gupta, who holds a B.Tech in electronics engineering from IIT-BHU and a masters in business & computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in the US, says there are guidelines for the supporters and members to follow on social media.
 
"We always ask them to follow these," he said, adding: "The prime minister himself has asked everyone to follow a certain etiquette. Ignore negativities, take criticism positively and work with positive energy on social media," he asserted.
 
The party, he stated, always communicated through official handles, spokespersons and office bearers.
 
Gupta, who headed the digital and social media campaign for Modi during the 2014 elections, conceded that it was also difficult to control social media.
 
The party has often come under criticism for allowing vicious verbal attacks on critics by its supporters.
 
The BJP-led government has been on a social media overdrive since it assumed power in May 2014 and Gupta says "Digital First" is now in BJP's DNA as directed by Modi himself. Gupta has been looking at BJP's cyber interests since 2010.
 
"Led by the prime minister, the thought is not just to bring parity in information dissemination. It is also to look at the overall parity so that citizens, media and everybody gets information together." Gupta told IANS.
 
"It is digital democracy as well. It makes information available to all in real time and in the right manner. That's what we are seeing in our 'Digital India' programme," he said, adding that the government, the Prime Minister's Office and the party machinery are all in sync on this.
 
"It is not any one person's job. Everybody is playing their role. It is a job of the party to propagate the good policies of it to take it forward. It is the job of the government to ensure every citizen, every stakeholder gets the information," said Gupta, who has a team of about 20 people in Delhi. Various units in the states help to move information on the internet.
 
Gupta, who led the "Ab Ki Bar Modi Sarkar" campaign in the run-up to the April-May 2014 general election, said the transformational change in the past 15 months had also involved citizens in decision-making. The logos for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna and Swachh Bharat were all crowd sourced from the MyGov platform, he said as an example.
 
"The prime minister himself picks up messages from this platform."
 
He said the change is spreading out fast. "Every event is getting live-streamed. Many ministries in the last 15 months have come online and started giving their updates in real time," he said. The railway ministry, for example, is now taking complaints on its Twitter handle.
 
"This is something unique in this part of the world. This is the change in the DNA."
 
Speaking about the MyGov.in platform, which was made to build a partnership between citizens and the government, he said it has multifarious roles to play. "We will try to reach out to as many more people as possible. There is a big emphasis on villages and semi-urban areas."
 
On the interactive role that the BJP seeks through social media, Gupta said while some feedback was meaningful, sometimes it was not. "But even a small comment needs to be understood whether people are writing it in the correct spirit. Good feedback or criticism, both are welcome," he said.

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COMMENTS

Dahyabhai S Patel

1 year ago

J. Pinto forgot to mention Mutalik.
Nilesh does not know about Modi's Asarambhakti. Asaram should have been in Jail in 2007 itself for his deeds mentioned in the first comment herebelow , but as I mentioned, Modi becomes Mauneebaba whenever he sees himself trapped! He branded Manmohan Singh as MaunMohan Singh while he acts maunee more than MM Singh!!!!

Jyoti Dua

1 year ago

I wish to congratulate Arvind Gupta for this interview. BJP IT cell is doing an excellent work. Please keep it up. BJP information dissipation is quite wide. There would be critics. Gupta is right that all criticism should be taken positively. All the best Gupta ji.

J Pinto

1 year ago

After the killing of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and now MM Kalburgi will PM Modi and RSS Sarsangchalak speak out against the "Hindu Taliban" who wish to silence all erudite and reason backed criticism of retrograde practices ?

No chance because BJP = RSS = Hindutva = Political Hinduism

Reminds me of the failed attempts at Political Islam in Egypt.

Are the Indian Armed Forces on alert ?

REPLY

Nilesh KAMERKAR

In Reply to J Pinto 1 year ago

If you have the guts to face the truth ... please do a search for "Missionary Terror" on Google &/or Twitter

Nilesh KAMERKAR

In Reply to J Pinto 1 year ago

Do you have any evidence to support your baseless charges? or

Is it just a convenient narrative which suits some hidden agenda?

Meenal Mamdani

1 year ago

I have been critical of Modi's actions and have been verbally attacked by people who did not agree with my criticism.

That is perfectly fair. What is not OK is to use foul language, cuss words, and personal attacks.

The problem lies with the media that allows such comments to get past its moderators.

I have repeatedly requested Hindustan Times and Indian Express, where I often post comments, to state its policies at the beginning of comments section. Those who violate the policy should be given one warning. If they continue to ignore it, their comments should be blacked out.

Surely it is not difficult for moderators to use certain filters to capture such comments and delete them.

I get the feeling that just the way the owners of TV talk shows like shouting and mayhem as it brings more viewers, HT and IE may get greater traffic on their website because there is no moderation of comments.

REPLY

Jyoti Dua

In Reply to Meenal Mamdani 1 year ago

I agree with Meenal Mamdani

Dahyabhai S Patel

1 year ago

For so many persons Modibhakti is like Asarambhakti!!!!! And Mr. Modi has never uttered a single word in consolation for deaths of two kids of Asaram Gurukul in 2007!!! Even no action was taken against Asaram knowing pretty well that there was something fishy in Asarams deeds!!

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Moneylife Foundation semiar: How Safe Is Your Building?
You put a huge amount of your earnings in your apartment. But are you aware of the perils of poor maintenance and unsafe practices?
 
The middle-class spends the bulk of its earnings to buy a house or an apartment. However, while choosing the apartment building and after moving into it, people hardly think about its safety and maintenance of the building. This leads to accidents and, sometimes, to loss of lives. “We need to maintain our homes and apartment buildings like we care for own health,” said renowned structural consultants Achyut Watve and Umesh Joshi while speaking at an interactive session on “How Safe Is Your Building?” organised by Moneylife Foundation in Mumbai, along with architect Prakash Deshmukh. 
 
According to these experts, during the first 10 years of the building, owners need to maintain all records of the property, like approved architectural plans, structural plans along with the design brief, including loading on each floor, parking loads, landscape load and material testing records from the builder. The maintenance and care taken of the building over next 20 years will decide its life from the 30th year onwards, they said.
 
Mr Watve and Mr Joshi, both partners of JW Consultants LLP, a highly regarded name in structural consultancy that works with reputed construction companies in India and abroad, said that apartment/flat-owners need to be more aware about the maintenance timeline and follow it rigorously to avoid accidents or major repairs later. 
 
“Owners should get the building inspected regularly. While regular painting will seal fine cracks, for structural cracks, approved methods of repairs need to be used. In addition, the residents should also inspect common facilities, electrical systems, fire suppression system in the building and take proper measures to repair and rectify defects on time. Also, one needs to understand that waterproofing has limited life and the buildings may start leaking later. This also needs to be checked regularly,” Mr Watve and Mr Joshi said.
 

Building Collapse

“The most common cause for building collapse is seepage and leakage. People take for granted that waterproofing work has been carried out by the builder. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Life of any waterproofing is maximum 10-15 years, after which it needs to be done again thoroughly. Instead of finding out the source of water leakage and carrying out repairs at that spot, people try to do a wishy-washy job and end up with more damage to the building,” they added. 
 
Mr Watve and Mr Joshi explained in detail about what a home-buyer needs to check while buying a new property. Besides location and accessibility of the property, one needs to check the reputation of the builder as well as the contractor, consultant and architect. “Some people, while buying a property, look for additional floor space index (FSI) so that floors can be added. However, before checking on the FSI, the buyer needs to check if the building foundation is designed for such additional floor load,” they said.
 
Mr Watve and Mr Joshi said that while buying a new home, one should look for quality of construction materials (steel and concrete), approved electrical wiring, internal piping, quality waterproofing with warranty, anti-termite treatment in foundations, and anti-corrosion systems—all of which will give us peace of mind. Often, to save time and money, flat-owners do not remove the existing tiles but add a layer of tiles on top of the existing ones. This immediately leads to huge additional load on the floor and may become a big source of problem later.
 
Prakash Deshmukh, immediate past president of Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), and director of Associated Space Designers Pvt Ltd, explained to the audience issues relating to ‘Maintenance and Safety of the Built Environment’. “Built environment refers to the man-made surroundings that accommodate human activities in the buildings and its surroundings including their supporting infrastructure, such as water supply, energy networks, fire safety, security and health,” he said. Mr Deshmukh, who is widely acclaimed for contributing to eco-friendly townships like Magarpatta City and Nanded City in Pune, said there is a serious lack of public awareness about built environment in India. 
 
“Poorly maintained buildings lead to dangerous living conditions. Because of serious ignorance about the maintenance of buildings and built environment, one gets exposed to “sick building syndrome” or SBS. SBS is nothing but a situation in which the occupants of a building, experience acute health- or comfort-related effects which seem to be linked directly to the time spent in the building,” added Mr Deshmukh said. 
 
Talking about causes for the SBS, Mr Deshmukh said that poor maintenance of building elements, such as leakage of water though ceilings and walls, poor indoor air quality due to lack of adequate natural ventilation, poor hygiene and cleanliness—indoors as well as outdoors—and poor day-lighting, resulting in growth of bacteria and anaerobic conditions, lead to SBS. 
 
Talking about solid waste management, he said, “Instead of haphazard disposal, residents must practice waste segregation at the source itself. Regular cleaning and maintenance ensures healthy living conditions. I spent almost 10 years to make people aware about health hazards due to poor waste management. In the end, our entire colony is now following the practice to segregate the waste into dry and wet wastes.” There is a need for developers and builders to provide a building manual for buyers, Mr Deshmukh said. He added, “When you buy a car, the manufacturer provides you with a manual. However, when you buy a home worth lakhs of rupees, or even crores, there is no such thing given by the developer. Maintenance manual should be made mandatory with every project. Until then, you have to create your own dos and don’ts.”
 
Mr Deshmukh said, “Building audit should be carried out on a regular basis to ensure the safety, security and health of the buildings. Each project should have a maintenance manual. Based on the audit there should be action programme for maintenance. In addition, structural audit must be carried out periodically and effective measures should be adopted for structural safety. Similarly, painting should be done on a regular basis along with the surface plaster coating. Preventive maintenance of building services should also be carried out regularly. Maintaining the safety, security and liveability of our buildings and built environment is in our hands. Let us do it,” he appealed. 
 
The presentations and speeches were followed by a lively interaction. 

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