The five-year period of 2014-2019 has seen such an explosion of media creation and media use in India that the answer to the question, who is the media, has become, literally, everybody.
The Indian public sphere is increasingly mediated not just by conventional media—TV, print, online, and radio in the hands of a few—but by technology in the hands of millions of users seeking information, pushing disinformation, and instant gratification.
Many developments converged towards this end: the explosion of internet connectivity and cheap smartphones in small-town and rural India, leading to growing numbers online and on social media.
With 500 million Indians on the Internet by the end of 2018 (a growth of 65% over 2016), the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook in February 2014 and its accelerated growth in India
thereafter has meant that the messaging app now has over 200 million users in India.
There are over 30 million Twitter accounts and close to 294 million on Facebook. The 65% growth is partly explained by the launch of Reliance Jio in September 2016, the 4G telecom service of Reliance Industries which was free for six months.
The story on Economic Times in 2018 of how the mobile phone was shaping up as the BJP’s most important election weapon, reported that Jio’s inaugural offer racked up 100 million subscribers in 170 days. Subsequently, other telecom operators dropped tariffs in order to compete, helping to deepen Internet penetration.
Access to media tools—a cheap smartphone with a camera, an online app on which you can edit your video — has become a marker of changing demography. Between WhatsApp, Twitter, and the Chinese short video creation platform TikTok,video-sharing of the good, bad, and ugly has quickly become a national pastime.
Access to media tools—a cheap smartphone with a camera, an online app on which you can edit your video — has become a marker of changing demography.
The coming together of the communications revolution and the neo-middle class. The widespread emergence of multiple media platforms including social media is redefining the role of the media in politics and government and the relationship between the two.