Indian American brings internet campaigning to IndiaMay 18th, 2008 - 10:43 am ICT by admin
By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) If Ravi Singh, CEO of one of America’s first internet electioneering sites, has his way, Indian political parties will be campaigning on the web in the next round of elections. With nearly 640 campaigners signing up with it in the US in 2007, ElectionMall TM Technologies, Singh’s brainchild, is creating waves in the world of political campaigning. Especially in the heat of the presidential elections there this year.
Globally, internet campaigning is a $75 billion market. In the US alone, it’s a $9.8 billion market.
“The idea of political campaigning using technology, the internet, signifies a total paradigm shift. And it’s working. Through the internet, not only is there a greater outreach to people but voters also have a wide choice at their fingertips in deciding whom to cast their votes for,” Washington-based Singh told IANS here over a cup of tea.
Singh, who keeps shuttling to and from Los Angeles, is in India to emulate a similar module and has invested $2 million in his ventures here. India’s general election is to be held next year.
“I was 25 when I decided to join politics in the US but failed to make a mark. My failure made me realise the disadvantages while campaigning, the loopholes of being unable to reach across to the people.
“That’s when I developed ElectionMall in 1999 with just one computer. Today it’s recognised as one of the industry pioneers and people call me a campaign guru!” the 35-year-old Sikh American laughed.
Singh said that with people becoming internet savvy here, the idea of internet campaigning might just click.
“Didn’t you vote for the Indian Idol show or some other reality show competition? With people becoming more technology-savvy, using internet campaigning will increase government participation amongst the people,” he said.
The ElectionMall has over 63 international patents and is perhaps the only registering authority for digital certificates in elections.
It’s a different story that there hasn’t been much of a response from the political fraternity here. But Singh said he would continue to hold talks with the politicians and “educate the market” in this regard.
“This is why I have now set up two research and development labs in India - one in Delhi and the other in Bangalore. The factors which click in the US don’t necessarily work here and we have to do our homework carefully before setting foot here,” Singh said.
“We are also inviting young entrepreneurs to help us in this venture. We will most probably start this module with local states on a licensing model,” Singh said.
But it’s not just politicians who can avail themselves of the services of ElectionMall. Voters can use a voter’s tool called Widget, by which they can raise funds on behalf of the politician they support.
“Political parties, individual candidates, promoters, citizen’s groups, voters - anyone - can run a campaign and we will do the rest.
“Creating web pages, campaign literature, managing staff, helping raise funds, contacting voters by e-mail, fax and phone, organising election tours, even printing, and distributing T-shirts and other election material - it’s all up to us,” he said.