“niiti”, a Sanskrit word means, in different contexts, policy, ethics, tenets. To us, who belong here, it is our raison d’etre, our touchstone. So we constantly turn to our ethics and tenets when we re-examine the basis of what we do and how we do it over and over again. This is our space to engage with our core, with you, our readers and companions on the path towards an equitable society in the deepest meaning of the word. Over the past years, there are several social issues and organisations that we have engaged with and been enriched with both experience and knowledge along the way. We believe that in creating a conversation platform for those engaged in the field, including some of our clients, partners, all of you out there who have reached this site wanting to be the change and others who have expertise to comment and critique, we can actually crowd-source actions and solutions for some of our most pressing social issues.

Some of these stories feature organisations and people who have been the change; others highlight innovative approaches to long-entrenched social issues; yet others point to ways in which change can be facilitated, simply. If you are inspired by them as well and motivated to replicate their work, or want to share inputs on other bright examples like these, do write to us at

This is your platform. Feel free to contribute, critique, and most importantly, converse.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Socially Yours

In the cyber-noise that is social media today, one can’t be blamed for wondering at the real value of trying to be heard out there in the midst of the world posting photographs of their school reunions, dinners, puppies, children, family get-togethers et al. 

However, recent numbers tell a compelling tale.
  • Facebook is the most browsed social network on social media with a large base of 100 Million users, clearly it is not fading away anytime soon in India. More than 80% of those users access Facebook via their mobile phone.
  • Total Twitter users in India are 33 Million and from this base 76% of users access it via their mobile phone.
  •  LinkedIn has 26 Million India users, of the total 300+ Million users.
  • Of the total chunk of 70 Million total users in Pinterest, 5.5 Million are from India.

While the top brands on Facebook are dominated by the telecom industry, there is a very strong case for the social sector as well.
  1. Monies: It is possible, without ANY expenditure, to run a hard hitting social campaign. Yes, even without resorting to buying digital media. This is important for cash-strapped social campaigns.
  2. Honesty: Social media enables transparency and honesty like no other medium today.
  3.  Immediacy: The response time on social media is very VERY fast. Almost instantaneous in the case of Twitter in particular.
  4.  Reach: Time it right and post the right kind of localized matter and presto: you have a world-wide reach.
  5.  Partners: With the right kind of content, you can reach out to partners who would be difficult to access outside of the virtual world. Tag them, follow them, play relevant content and watch the magic.   
These are only a handful of reasons why it makes sense to be on social media, in particular for anything social (forgive the pun) that you might be doing. I once ran a gender safety campaign single-handedly off social media and look at the kind of response it generated (without any media outreach or PR on my part).

Now that I have (hopefully) sold you on the “why”, let’s take a quick look at the “how”. This is fairly involved and like any other outreach, requires an understanding of basic principles of communication.

Just like any sustainable communication strategy, social media needs strong content. This does NOT mean inventing news when there is none, but feeding in interesting content in a strategic manner. The content life-cycle lies at the heart of any social media strategy worth its salt. The “offline” feeds into the online and back into the “offline” or real-world to create a self-sustaining cycle (see figure)

The key to social media success lies in engagement rather than just adding on likes and followers. And the key to that lies in how strong your content is and how well it is presented. Do you listen to your followers? Respond to them? Invite them to engage with you in a manner that is not lost in the sea of social media?

Think on it.

We’re always there if you want to take the discussion on social media further. Just join the doer’s lab on social media (22nd January 2015). These labs are by and for practitioners and focus on practical tools and knowledge.

Richa Dubey - In the nearly two decades of what she ambitiously describes as a career, though it is more a wild, careening ride through the maze of communication, bread baking, media, marketing strategy, gender activism, textile walks, advocacy, Sufi poetry, public affairs, television anchoring and plain writing for the heck of it, Richa has actually managed to do “serious work” including conceptualizing and running a gender activism campaign; leading public affairs for a prospective national innovation university; building an advocacy strategy for the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative’s India office; writing speeches for GOI ministers; anchoring a breakfast show on national television and managing an international world music festival. Oh, and there’s the work she does for niiti. Lots of it.

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