May 2009

Rishi Jaitly

Views: 257

Rishi Jaitly
Senior Policy Analyst, Google Inc.

“The website, available at www.google.co.in/loksabha2009 in both English and Hindi, should be the primary destination for all those interested in learning about India’s democracy in the context of this year’s elections”

What was the thought process behind the loksabha 2009   initiative?

Google’s global mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.  One of the most important lessons we at Google have learned in our short history is that information can be fundamentally empowering; there is perhaps no moment when information is more important than when a society comes together to undertake democratic elections.  With this in mind, we at Google India sought to understand what role we can play in India’s 15th general elections, which, in our view, would be India’s first “Internet Election.”  Given that Google is a neutral platform for information, we surveyed the landscape of NGOs and government organizations and decided that our role should be to shine a light on the most critical elections-related information available in India today.  Of course, we knew that our technologies would also give us the unique ability to highlight this information in a visible and compelling way.  Ultimately, though, this initiative has primarily been motivated by our view that the Internet can play a profoundly important role in elections, governance, and democracy in India.  In a country where elections are a central part of national culture, there is perhaps no other medium that ensures voters can directly interact with leaders and information.  Our goal was to usher in a new era of citizen empowerment in India as well as inaugurate the arrival of India’s “Digital Democracy” in India’s first “Internet Election.”In the end, together with a range of NGO and government partners, we launched a website that dynamically showcases the most important information available today pertaining to this year’s Lok Sabha Elections.  The website, available at www.google.co.in/loksabha2009 in both English and Hindi, should be the primary destination for all those interested in learning about Indian democracy in the context of this year’s elections.

How many hits per day are you getting on the website?

This initiative is unprecedented and groundbreaking not only in India but also in the global context.  As such, we have not set any numerical goals.  We have built this elections centre such that it appeals to Indian citizens of all ages and from all walks of life.  We are delighted at the response we have observed to date from users in India and around the world.

What are the new features that are going to be added to the website?

Over time, we hope for this site to be an even more dynamic centre for transparency, democracy, and governance in India.  We welcome feedback and ideas from individual users and organizations from across the country.

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