After some international consumer movements and examples of Govt. authorities utilizing social media, here comes an Indian initiative which has become sort of a case study for consumers utilizing the power of social media in India. Meter Jam – Say No to Taxis & Autos on 12th Aug’10, a campaign against overcharging and unruly behavior of auto rickshaws and taxi men, has gained an unprecedented response on social media. Three advertising professionals Abhilash Krishnan, Jaidev Rupani and Rachana Brar launched this campaign just few days ago and within a week they have been flooded with responses not only from Mumbai but also from other cities like Bangalore & Delhi where commuters have been genuinely harassed by auto guys. Indian commuters in these cities have been suffering from long, but due to nonexistent regulatory authorities and lack of proper channel to vent out their problems, these commuters had no other option than to bear the menace. The issue got heated up further when despite the recent fare hikes, the auto & taxi men kept on asking for additional charges and tired by their antics these three people decided to take this initiative.
The popularity of this Meter Jam campaign has nearly trebled in the last few days and their website, facebook page and twitter profile has been receiving support from all across. Two days back when I had checked their website, it showed some 12,000 supporters and as I’m typing this post the count has increased to 37,007 supporters already. The campaign was originally launched online but their popularity has made the campaign spread like fire in offline medium too. Media has been speaking about this online movement almost everywhere now and the viral nature of channels like Twitter etc has helped it spread dynamically.
Interesting to observe consumers using social media now to raise their voice like this! Not that this problem didn’t exist earlier but channels like Facebook & Twitter has given them an easy access to reach out to many from different geographic locations and take this action in a united way. Whether this campaign is ethically correct or whether it will really impact the cause is a different topic, but don’t we see an interesting trend of Indian consumers harnessing social media in a different way? Hasn’t social media empowered them to initiate a movement without any support from Govt. bodies or large scale budgets? Will this motivate consumers to stand up against other similar issues in India and will such mass boycott really create a difference enough for corrupt bodies to come back on track? Let’s wait & watch how much of this today’s ‘online movement executed offline’ actually impacts the autos & taxis.