Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become one of the most influent world leaders, and for good reason. It wasn’t long until he became the face of India as a high-class brand ambassador, primary diplomat and leading marketing officer.
And most of his work was done with the help of Twitter. After US President Barack Obama – who boasts 61.2 million followers – Modi is the second-most-followed world leader, whose followship has reached 13.4 million.
The Prime Minister soon discovered the power of social networks, so he used Twitter to advocate for his policies; he got several social and political issues trending and even viral. One of the most recent hashtags he has made popular is #SelfieWithDaughter.
Modi has encouraged India to celebrate its daughters in the midst of raising concerns about the declining female-to-male ratio in various areas of the country. One was to do that is by uploading pictures under the hashtag #SelfieWithDaughter – a campaign that people have earnestly embraced.
Twitter was flooded with pictures of daughters with their fathers from Iowa to Haryana, the original location of the hashtag campaign. But an issue came up when Modi’s social campaigns on Twitter and other media that encouraged the public to address gender imbalance and equality were not reflected in his public spending.
After spending roughly a third of the 900 million rupees ($14.15 million) initially budgeted for the child-sex ratio initiative last year, Modi’s administration decided to cut the Ministry of Women and Child Development’s overall budget by almost 45 percent. And the population is starting to demand that Twitter speak be backed-up by real-life action.
Child-sex ratio has reached an all-time low in India’s history, caused by plenty of factors: feeding infant boys in detriment of girls, turning a blind eye to female feticide, and keeping the child-marriage concept alive and thriving. The ratio is also the second-lowest among the globe’s major countries, following China.
And according to skeptical gender equality advocates, social media campaign such as #SelfieWithDaughter can barely make a difference where it matters the most: educating people and changing their attitudes.
They believe that promoting Twitter campaigns isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it steals the spotlight from the real issues, such as excessive patriarchy and the inequality that makes India such an inhospitable host for women.
Poor women are the ones who don’t benefit at all from the thousands of smiling photos uploaded on Modi’s Twitter feed – which are mostly parent-daughter snapshots of affluent and well-educated families. Girls are inherently disfavored in poverty-stricken regions, where people can rarely afford smartphones to take selfies with.
Nandita Bhatt Pradhan, manager of Participatory Research in Asia, pointed out the fact that there needs to be a discussion alongside the picture-posting, which is the only way that fathers can be stopped from raping their daughters.
Image Source: Malayalam Live