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Thanks to social networks, ministers connect with public online

Saturday, 21 June 2014 - 7:55am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

UK's prime minister David Cameroon may have travelled in London's Tube to zip across the city's traffic to keep an appointment, but it is India's cabinet minister's who are redefining the janata-neta connect via social media tools.

An MBA student flagged an issue facing his institute and tagged a Union cabinet minister's Twitter handle. Within 11 minutes, came a reply from the minister apprising the student about the steps that the government is taking to address the issue. Commerce minister Nirmala Seetharaman addressed the young man's concerns within minutes. And her colleagues in other ministries are doing the same.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley and power minister Piyush Goyal keep updating and informing about the steps their respective departments are taking up. Seetharaman, who is minister of state in the ministry of finance and ministry of commerce and industry avidly uses Twitter to connect with the people. She has made a separate handle for the commerce ministry — @CimGOI.

This neta-janata interface gave an opportunity to Rohit Madhogarhia, a student of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), to raise certain concerns about his college. "Maám, our b-school IIFT is under ur ministry. D construction of its campus in Kol hs continuosly missed deadlines. Plz intrvene."

To which Seetharaman replied within 11 minutes: "The director met with me yesterday. he briefed me about this issue. Shall see how this can be sorted out."

An elated Rohit then replied, "Thank you so much mam...It feels great to see you engaging with Janta like this."

Seetharaman has been interacting with people from a variety of backgrounds such as budding entrepreneurs and NRIs who are eager to invest in India. Ranging from investment opportunities in solar energy to agriculture technology, queries from those interested pour in on her personal as well as the ministry's Twitter timeline and she replies to each and every message.

Similarly, finance minister Arun Jaitley also uses his Twitter and Facebook pages to inform the public about his ministry's work. On taking over as the finance minister, he posted on his blog an article titled, 'From celebration to challenge', in which he outlined the issues that the Indian economy is facing and how tough and bitter measures are required to bring the economy on a path of fiscal correction.

Power minister Piyush Goyal too has been using Twitter to communicate with the masses. His pledge on Twitter for 24/7 power supply read: "We also understood the Jyotigram Yojana in great detail & will leave no stone unturned for our dream of 24x7 power, pan India in every home!". This tweet got him into at least 17 conversations ranging from suggestions such as overhaul of the state electricity boards, improve power infrastructure and some angry vents due to six-eight hour power cuts in the capital.

The point, however, is that the public is happy that ministers, at least some of them, are directly listening and talking to the masses. As this tweet of Sangeeta Arora to Seetharaman signifies: "Nirmala Jee, Now we know our Government is working day & night for the people."

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