A session on e-Democracy

e demot

A session on e-Democracy

The increasing use of social media platforms for social, political and religious discussions tends to pacify people more than mobilizing them for the political process.

 The increasing use of social media platforms for social, political and religious discussions tends to pacify people more than mobilizing them for the political process.

The opinion was voiced by Dr. Zahid Parvez, a UK-based scholar while speaking to the faculty of the Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad.
Parvez is the director of Markfield Institute of Higher Education, Leicester, UK and possesses a PhD degree in e-Democracy from the University of Birmingham.

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The expert discussed several prevailing and developing models of democracy around the world, especially focusing on the emerging trend of e-democracy, which is enabling participatory democracy through technology in many parts of the world today.

The scholar termed the use of technology for better governance as the need of the hour as it offers both government and the people convenient and efficient means of interacting with each other directly and indirectly.
He maintained that despite the fact that technology was not neutral and was controlled by people in power, it still provides the tools and platform for the common people to make their opinions public, thus empowering them to carry their viewpoints across to the concerned authorities.

Discussing the role of modern technology in shaping, supporting or affecting the democracy, the speaker said that in spite of increased people participation on social media platforms, unfortunately the power still remains concentrated in the hands of big players, especially in the West.

In support of his argument, the speaker presented the example of British political system where any e-petition having over one hundred thousand signatures qualifies for debate in the floor of parliament. However, to his surprise, despite the heavily signed e-petitions and mass mobilization through social media on issues like the Iraq war, the Prophets caricatures and Israeli aggression on Gaza were completely ignored by the British parliament.

The speaker also gave a reference to his interviews of British parliamentarians during the course of his PhD, in which some of the interviewees termed the present form of democracy in United Kingdom as elected dictatorship, confiding there was no way the participatory democracy could be tolerated in the country.

Maintaining that the social media technology was posing considerable challenge to the doorkeepers controlling public opinions, the scholar said that while people were becoming increasingly dependent on technology, they also collectively form the basis upon which the technology was being constructed globally. Thus, with all its merits and demerits, the significance of technology for any form of governance can neither be underestimated, nor overemphasized.

DG-IPS Khalid Rahman also spoke on the occasion.

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