WHEN BoI posted an article on Twitter-saavy bureaucrats in October last year, an anonymous reader added a few more names: “P Narahari, current DM of Indore, MP is a very active user of social media and has used SM effectively to connect with the citizen in his previous posting as Gwalior collector. And also the collector of Kochi who was in news recently. You can also see the municipal commissioner of Nashik, Praveen Gedam who regularly tweeted about the progress of Nashik Kumbh…” Yes, corridors' power rules have changed. A bureaucrat no longer derives power just from signing a file. The power of a bureaucrat also comes from the number of Twitter followers or number of comments that he or she gets in a Facebook post. So, the 4th Most Powerful Bureaucrat in BoI Power List, 2015, is…such a bureaucrat (or all such bureaucrats) who understand the nuances of social media and have a large base of followers. And it’s not the first time, BoI Power List takes into account the Twitter followers in deciding who is powerful and who is not. Back in 2013, BoI termed the former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao as the 4th Most Powerful Bureaucrat because of her immense clout in social media: 1,68,228 Twitter followers as on August 25, 2013 (now about 5 lakh). We then said: “As New India is hyper active in social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, a long followers’ list indicates not just one’s popularity but one’s influence and power as well. In fact, Rao’s list of followers has dwarfed those of veteran politicians who have installed huge teams to engage the net savvy citizens through Twitter and other social media platforms.”
In the last two years, the situation has changed so much that no bureaucrat or political leader now can afford to avoid social media. How can a bureaucrat say “no” to social media if his or her minister is fully engaged in Twitter or Facebook? Also, every bureaucrat in the corridors is aware of the reality that none other than the Prime Minister himself is highly fascinated by social media and new technology.
Some bureaucrats who have successfully used Twitter to give prompt and right messages include MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup, DIPP secretary and 1980 batch IAS Amitabh Kant, 2005 batch Karnataka cadre IPS officer Abhishek Goyal, 2004 batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer Vivek Kumar, Ambassador of India to UNESCO in Paris Ruchira Kamboj, India’s Permanent Representative to UN Syed Akbaruddin etc. All of them have the blue badge, meaning their accounts are “Twitter verified”. According to Twitter rules, you can't apply for Twitter verification on your own. Instead, Twitter contacts you if it finds your account interesting in areas such as music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business etc.
The other bureaucrats who have effectively leveraged social media include whistleblower IAS of Haryana cadre Ashok Khemka, Karnataka cadre IAS Srivatsa Krishna, IPS officers such as Rema Rajeshwari, Ankit Singh, Esha Pandey, Madhur Verma etc., Odisha cadre IAS Arvind Padhee, AGMUT cadre IAS Varsha Joshi, Chhattisgarh cadre IAS Alex Paul Menon etc. The list is increasing every passing day.The bottom-line is clear: A bureaucrat with a sizeable number of social media followers wields more power than his batch-mate who has just heard of Twitter, not beyond it! And the one with huge social media presence gets the 4th place in BoI’s list of 5 Most Powerful Bureaucrats, 2015.