Learning About Our MP, One Instagram Post at a Time

With Delhi election results to be announced in a short while, it is the perfect time to revisit our knowledge about our leaders and the election process.

Social media can be instrumental in shaping our opinions and can also help us make more informed choices about politics, health or our personal lives. There is a lot wrong with our politics, which makes understanding our electoral choices and questioning them even more important.

As an Indian voter concerned about economic instability and the ongoing curtailment of our basic rights, I feel it’s time we seek some effective assistance to make better choices. Some social media accounts are making research seem easy and fun, and have helped me make informed choices through cool illustrated snippets.

Following this thought, I came across this upcoming Instagram collaboration by WeUnlearn and Mantri Cards, where researchers will break down research and data for instagrammers on NOTA, powers and responsibilities of a Member of Parliament (MP) and other electoral details. WeUnlearn conducts research on intersectional feminism. Their tech platform uses AI to empower lower-income adolescents with knowledge, skills and resources to lead gender-equitable lives.

Varun from Mantri Cards said, “Working with social sector organisations, we felt that there is a lack of conversation around important issues for citizens. We started brainstorming around different ways to come up with solutions for this. From there, Besides was formed, which is a web application prototype we had developed last year just before the election. We looked at the election process and encouraged people to research for themselves. During our research, we also found out that many people did not know that their votes are responsible for electing their MPs, and not for the prime ministerial post directly.”

Also read: This Law Student Wants to Make Voting ‘Fun and Cool’

“People also got excited about learning how to do research themselves on MPs through a list of resources we put out. Both of these things got us thinking, what if we could make a cool card game out of it. That’s how Mantri Cards was born: compiling research done by people themselves for a card game to make learning about legislative processes interesting. It was made possible through a successful crowdfunding campaign and by collaborating with other research organisations. Mantri Cards was an actual game ready to launch in October last year!”

Out of 545 members (543 elected + two Anglo Indian MPs selected by the president) in the Lok Sabha, there are only 100 MPs represented in Mantri Cards. From regional representation (minimum one mantri per state and union territory) to political party representation, to gender-wise representation, a lot of work has been done to try and fairly represent parliament.

Often, we don’t even know how many MPs there are in parliament or how representation works. People like me, who are supposedly more ‘politically aware’, find it tough to name even 20 of them. Growing up in a society where we don’t really encourage political discussions in our homes, this card game actually allows us to start conversations based on data submitted by MPs themselves .

I also spoke to Riya Roy, head of Creative Communications at WeUnlearn, along with Meghna Chaudhury, founder at WeUnlearn, about their upcoming collaboration. Riya said, “Which policy-makers we bring to power greatly determines how bias and discrimination is curbed. To that end, we are  collaborating with Mantri Cards to help voters understand electoral details better. They will be taking over our page the whole of the first week of February. There is an interesting study on how people tend to have voter’s regret when the election results don’t match their expectations, making them wonder what would have happened if they had voted differently. By helping them cast their vote more judiciously, we want to ensure our people don’t have voter’s regret.”

Starting Monday, instagrammers can learn information about existing systems, how elections happen, what the various structures are and how they can make more informed choices.

If like me, you also feel torn between educating yourself and making your way through long paragraphs on the electoral process, this is an Instagram collaboration worth checking out.

While social media is a great way to stay abreast with what’s happening, it has also made it tough for me, personally, to constantly combat manipulation spread through fake news. Maybe some quality social media time could benefit us all.

Aishwarya Shrivastav is a 23-year-old journalist. When she’s not listening to the song recommendations sent to her, she can be found hoarding books and memories.
Featured image credit: Unsplash/Illustration:LiveWire