Social media are new-age digital change agents that have empowered Indian bureaucracy to deliver social goods in a far more effective way than in past, said a distinguished set of panelists comprising IAS, IPS officers and other experts during a webinar on Saturday organized by Bureaucrats India, a news portal dedicated to celebrate the good works of bureaucrats.

Counting the many benefits of social media platforms during Covid, Dipanshu Kabra, senior IPS officer and Additional Transport Commissioner, Chhattisgarh said that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have brought people much closer to bureaucracy. Adding that social media give glorious added opportunity to bureaucrats to serve society far more effectively that “we should have heart and compassion to help the people, especially those who are from weaker sections of the society.”

Dr Nilesh Deore, IAS and District Magistrate, Saran, Bihar, said: “The advent of social media has not only enabled better publicity of work done by bureaucrats but also created an effective system where we could get citizens’ feedback in a seamless manner. Social media have changed the dynamics of governance.” Highlighting how social media have brought the world closer, and effectively aiding in development work, he cited example of his recent visit to a Dutch Cemetery in Chhapra and posting a message on the same on his Twitter handle. An organization working on conservation approached him, which led to a chain reaction, and now the state government is in the process of sanctioning funds for its restoration.

As joint magistrate of Basti, Prem Prakash Meena, IAS along with his DM had launched a unique crowdsourcing initiative, raising Rs 14 lakh in no time, and spending that in a rare Basti Mahotsav. Now posted as Joint Magistrate of Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, Meena said: “Social media has improved interface between people and bureaucracy. We are under constant scrutiny now. People are using social media platforms to stay connected with the administration and vice versa.” Talking about how the District administration was integrating social media into governance framework, Meena said: “We have created Twitter handles for different departments and services. As and when we get any complaint or query, officers concerned respond to that immediately. This is a significant shift from days of the past, when people’s complaints would often get buried in files. Today we are far more responsive.”

Dr Navneet Anand of Bureaucrats India also announced that all such effective intervention of bureaucrats are being compiled by the organization for wider use and information. Santosh Singh, IPS officer and SP, Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, said: “We have effectively used social media as tools to help the needy. During Covid, social media proved quite effective in mobilizing essential items to help the needy. People responded to our requests and donated generously.” Raigarh district sourced 14 lakh masks and which were distributed in one day across the district.

Pratik Dattani, Advisor, Bridge India, said “Social media can make citizen’s voice much more effective.” He also shared his insights on misinformation and disinformation campaigns and why it is critical for us to equip ourselves with this menace.

Ankita Sharma, IPS, Assistant SP, Raipur, while responding to a query from the audience, said that traditional policing is very important. “Social media is becoming effective in dealing with cyber crime, and in delivering social goods.”