Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Jhatkaa: Getting India to 'Shake Up'

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 12 2013

Deepa Gupta, founder of Jhatkaa, discusses her vision for the project in a campaign video. (

Urinating into an empty dam to fill it, using late-night television as a contraceptive and suggesting Valentine's Day causes rape are a few of the public comments made by Indian politicians, as voiced by frustrated Indian citizens in Jhatkaa’s campaign video. Jhatkaa, which means “to shake up,” is a new civic startup pioneered by Deepa Gupta, a young Indian campaigner. She is described by Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, the partner of the late Aaron Schwartz, as “quite possibly the Indian in the world who is most expert in online campaigning techniques” and “one of the most dedicated, talented, and humble social change agents.”

Through vigorous campaigning, such as using a web platform, text messaging and social network sites, Jhatkaa hopes to inject a dose of grassroots power into the corrupt sphere of Indian politics. India currently ranks 94th on the Corruptions Perception Index, 14 spots behind China.

Gupta and her team at Jhatkaa believe the time is ripe for an Indian Spring, for a “progressive Indian democracy where people of every caste, religion, geography, gender, and sexual orientation seamlessly band together to successfully hold public decision makers accountable to the common good.” Their campaign page lists a number of signs that India’s civil society is burgeoning and hungry for change: the recent mass mobilization over the Delhi gang-rape, a series of protests over corruption in 2011, and the multitude of citizen journalists in rural and tribal areas using platforms like CG Net and Jharkhand Mobile Radio to cover what is overlooked by the private networks.

India contains one of the fastest-growing middle classes, set to reach a billion by 2025, according to the World Bank economist Ejaz Ghani. Currently, there are already 100 million Internet users and 800 million mobile phone subscribers. Gupta’s goal is to tap 15 million people within five years, to engage them and turn “these ‘moments’ into a movement.”

Jhatkaa cites as inspiration on their campaign page, the wave of global movements like the Arab Spring, Occupy Wallstreet, and groups like Getup, MoveOn and But they aim to tailor them for “the Indian context.”

The Jhatkaa team has already launched a few international projects within India: mobilizing 2 million for GreenPeace India and another 500,000 for in India within its first 18 months, to name a few. Jhatkaa has already raised $80,000 and is using the online campaign to raise $20,000 more. With just under a month left on their campaign, they are only about $3,600 short of their goal.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.


wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.


The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.


tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.


Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.


monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.


friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO