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Democracy

The Quest For The Senate Chairman

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Elections in Pakistan  have  always  witnessed  a question mark due to horse trading ,rigging  , bartering  and  bidding. The  recent  Senate Elections 2018  were  no Exception as  The Senate  Elections  were   held  in sheer  contradiction where  many Mainstream  Political parties such as PTI, MQM   cried  Foul play  and  horse trading  in the  Elections especially the  PPP’s grabbing of  Two  Senate Seats  from  KPK  on the  basis  of  6 MPAs  was  beyond  Understanding and  opened the Pandora box  as  how a  Party having  only  6 MPAs   could  manage to win  two seats  from KPK  .On the Other hand, MQM-P  due to infighting, lost the seats and managed to grab a single seat from Sindh while PML-N swept all the seats from Punjab and Islamabad.

If we go through the current Senate party-wise position, PML-N Leads the House with 34 Senate Seats as one independent candidate announced to join PML-N, followed by PPP  and  PTI  having  20 and  12 Seats each.  However, Ten Independent candidates from FATA may play the deciding role for The election of  Senate  Chairman as   PML-N needs 19 More Seats to get his  Nominee elected out of  104 seat Upper House.

The PPP and PTI contacts are also reported as both partied contacted the CM  Baluchistan for Alliance. The PTI demands Deputy chairman whereas chairman slot is offered to PPP Nominee. But the recent party meet up withdraws  the decision as  they were of  the view  that  having alliance  with either  PPP or  PML-N  would pour water on their long struggle  against  Corruption and  corrupt politicians  as  Chairman PTI  believed  that  having alliance  with PPP may benefit  PML-N and other opposition parties  including  JUI-F who are the strong  critics of  both parties  .

They may launch a public campaign against the party’s vision that those who used to call  Zardari  (Bemari)  The Disease for Sindh now sitting in their ranks and made an alliance with the corrupt party in quest of Power.Suppose  ,  If they make an alliance, they will have  32 seats, they will still require 21 seats to get the Slot of  Senate Chairman. Zardari is eying 15 Independent candidates of  FATA and Baluchistan, National Party of Baluchistan’s 5 seats, MQM’s  5 Seats, PML-F 1 seat, JI 2 Seats etc.  If zardari succeeds in getting the small parties on board then it will give tough time to PML-N. JUI-F has announced to back PMl-N Nominee whereas JI may support  PTI  as both parties are running a coalition Govt in KP.

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PPP has enjoyed the coalition with  MQM-P past though this political bonhomie did not last longer owing to the greed of power and resources on the part of  MQM and contradictory Separate Province Demands and tirade against Pakistan by self-exiled MQM –london chief  Altaf Hussain.

As regards The  Senate Elections, they are also reported to be rigged since Billions of Rupees were used to influence and change the loyalties of  MNAs and MPAs. Though the ECP  has taken the   Notice of such gross irregularities,  yet No action may likely be taken owing expiry of the  Government Term in May 2018.

PML-N may win Chairman Senate  Seat Either from its allies or  PML-N owing to the consensus on Nominee, while  PPP claims to have 60 Seats including FATA senators. But  PML-N has not reached the decision of Final Candidate.  In this situation, all the parties appear to be divided struggling to find the suitable candidate after refusal and Rejection over the name of   Existing  Senate Chairman, Senator Raza Rabbani by Zardari  Though the recommendation card was played by  PML-N former chief  Mian Nawaz Shareef. Shareefs are in disarray after disqualification as  PM and  Party chief altogether.

They have already started anti-Judiciary, NAB and Armed forces agitation campaign are not in the good books of  Establishment as well. However, as they enjoy the majority in the upper House, they face less resistance or effort to get their nominee elected.

So far, the PML-N leadership has not been able to finalize their Nominee for  Senate Chairman and Deputy Chairman Slots as they are still doing consultation with key allies such as National Party of  Baluchistan NP, JUI-F and Others.

PTI and PPP, on the other hand, are also seen busy to form an alliance to get the Slots. PPP’s Co-chairman Former President, Asif Ali Zardari is alleged to have bought the MPAs and MNAs and this purchase process is said to be continued as  Senators are being offered millions as per News reports to Support their nominee for  Chairman slot.

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PPP appears to be the only party that is in close contact with the independent candidates and had negotiations with various  Main Stream and Small parties Sindh, KP, Baluchistan to reach on an agreement for winning support from the allies for their  PPP nominee likely Salim Mandiwala etc.

On the other hand, PTI is vying for  Deputy chairman slot as they enjoy the third position in Upper House. Both PTI- PPP  may reach on consensus candidate  Sadiq Sanjrani as both parties have consensus over  Sadiq Sanjrani   He is emerging as the favourite candidate for the opposition in Upper House.Therefore, PTI finally nods to support PPP candidate after having internal party discussions and  Demand the  Deputy  Chairman Slot.

The Ball is in the PML-N’s court as they have the majority and only require  18 seats to win the chairman Slot.With JUI –F support and eying independent senators they may still be able to win The Chairman Senate seat but this prediction may be bit early as anything happens at any time. Maybe, The  PPP succeeds in making allies and winning support as Zardari is very clever in making surprises or stunning the opposition.

Zardari is also considered the king of changing the game as he did in Baluchistan by toppling the  Zahri  Govt and bringing in New set up in Baluchistan.PTI will support PPP Nominee as both parties are against the  PML-N Government.  The Political Pundits say that if Zardari’s Candidate wins that will be the great set back or Blow for PML-N.

The Election  for the appointment  of  Chairman and Deputy Chairman Senate is scheduled  Today ,so let’s see  who  wins  the  Elections of  Upper House Head and Deputy Head  -be it  PML-N  or  PPP-PTI  allies  . But  Zardari has shown disappointment over  the proposed name of  Sadiq Sanjrani  for  Chairman Slot during the  Meeting  of  CM Baluchistan  Abdul Qayoom Bizenjo and  PTI Chief  Imran Khan .

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Conflict

Tribal Clashes and the Bloodshed

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Tribal Clashes in the parts of Baluchistan and Sindh bring miseries and destruction as warring tribes go on Killing Sprees and do not stop until they equal the numbers.

They go on a massive scale and target indiscriminately, the young and old are consumed in the fire of revenge and vengeance.

Tribal clashes create several socioeconomic problems that compel the tribes men to adopt criminal activities for instance armed robbery, mobile snatching, motorbike snatching and stealing in the rural areas where police patrolling is not available.

Sindh, Baluchistan, KP and Punjab are embedded in the Feudal fabric that is controlling the social, cultural and political arena of these provinces.

This is obviously the great game of some sardars and politicians to incite the tribes to fight to settle their dispute. The disputes are triggered from trivial issues like water share, agriculture land disputes, grazing of animals in somebody’s farmlands, marriage, illicit relations and Karo Kari (honour Killings).

These tribal feuds have already consumed thousands of innocent lives since our judicial system fails to provide relief so people are forced to seek justice from the traditional jirga system, run by the tribal chiefs. Regrettably, the Jirga’s decisions are unmerited in most cases,women are given in exchange to settle the disputes,and the verdicts are binding on both parties.

Sufi Singer Manjhi Faqueer Speaks to Media during Peace Rally

During the colonial era British conferred various benefits to these feudals due to their allegiance to the British Empire. They were awarded lands and properties along with various titles that still exist in today’s Pakistan.

Titles such as sardar,Mir,Nawab, Khan Bahadur, rais and Muqdum are used even today. The princely states were also classified as Salute and Non-salute states, depending on their favorability with the British.

These states were controlled indirectly by British India. Some examples include Bahawalpur, Khairpur, Makran, and Kalat.

For a long time these entitled elite have been ruling and controlling Sindh, Baluchistan and Punjab, for more than seven decades they have had a stronghold in these areas socially, economically and politically.

There are several sardars who traditionally hold hereditary Turbans (pug) of Tribal chief and control their community along with other communities.

In Baluchistan, the most active Sardari tribes are Bugti, Marri, Mengal, Bizenjo, Jamali, Magsi and Rind, In Sindh Sundrani, Bijarani, Mahar,Chandio, Mazari, Lund, Pitafi, Arbabs, Khoso, Chachar, Teghani, Jatoi, Bhayo and Shar. Syed tribes have been ruling the roost in Sindh for several decades, the most important seat of CM falls in their domain.

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The heads of these tribal chiefs are autocratic princes and have totalitarian control over the people of their tribes;they enjoy the full authority in their respective areas.

These jirgas are not only lucrative businesses for the sardars, but they also aid them in consolidating their influence over their tribe members who then vote them to assemblies and the Parliament

The Sundrani, Bijarani, Mahar and Chandio Tribal chiefs control the greatest number of tribes in Sindh whereas Rind, Marri, Bugti and Mengals control most of the Baloch tribes in Baluchistan.

The extent of their control can be assessed on the following point that no one can have even matrimonial proposal without their consent and their verdict is final in all matters.

Feudal influence persists in these areas only because of the absence of writ of state and of law and order.Therefore, the tribesmen are compelled to opt for the Jirgas to settle disputes.

These jirgas delegate infinite powers to the arbitrator (Tribal Chief) consequently some decisions are astounding and illogical, but the communities cannot challenge them because of fear and oppression.

The Jirga process is very slow,both warring tribes must mutually agree to end the dispute, this may involve several sittings. Sometimes, the tribes resume their clashes soon after a settlement and pursue the killing spree owing to resentment by one tribe.

The women especially the young girls bear the brunt of these tribal clashes as unmarried girls are exchanged for compensation in case of murder settlements.These girls live in misery as the family members treat them as the daughter of the enemy and resort to domestic abuse and violence.Consequently, the innocent girls become the victims of these tribal jirgas.

The school going children also become victims of these tribal clashes amid fear of attack if they go to school, the enemy may target these students. Such incidences have been reported in the past.

In a recent incident between the Teghani and Bijarani tribes, two innocent students of matriculation were killed they were prepared to appear in the exams this March, unfortunate death took care that.

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In another ironic incident a 70-year-old man was shot in the head when he was riding his donkey cart to work so he could feed his minor children and wife. Instead of getting food on the table in the evening the family received his dead body.

One recent incident still resonates in the minds of many when 30 innocent lives were lost in exchange of fire between two tribes owing to a trivial issue of illegal grazing of a cow. This continues to happen due to widespread illiteracy and unrestricted use of sophisticated weapons.

This was the one of the worst examples when dozens of men, women and children got butchered in a single day,in a blatant display of barbarity.

The role of Police is very dismal rather dubious since such incidences also occur in cities,in broad day light. Police usually arrive late giving these trigger happy thugs a license to kill innocent people.

The open display of sophisticated weapons like fully automatic fire arms to rocket launchers makes one question how these communities manage to purchase such expensive arms when their purchase requires official approval and some are not even meant for civilians.

In some instances the police becomes an accomplice taking monetary benefits form the tribe that intends on attacking it’s rival turning a blinds eye.

The Government is clueless or an accomplice like the police in these incidents or deliberately avoids legislation against this butchery of humanity since most of the MPA’s and MNA’s are tribal chiefs themselves. They will never legislate against these crimes as they are well aware that legislation means curtailing their own powers and monetary losses.

It is high time that civil society, legal fraternity, and human rights defenders must come forward to stop this massacre in the name tribal disputes and the Supreme Court of Pakistan must take notice of this cold-blooded murder.

The Government should ban the jirgas completely and all murders under the guise of Honour Killings and Tribal disputes should be treated as a crime against humanity with exemplary punishments. Government should also control issuing of licenses to civilians.

The civil society must create awareness against and promote love and harmony among the communities so that they may settle their differences peacefully and never engage in fighting.Precious human lives need to be preserved especially those of the youth.

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Global Socio-Economic Impact of Covid-19

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The Pandemic originating from Wuhan China has enveloped the whole world and the catastrophe caused by covid-19 is beyond speculation.  Schools, Colleges, Universities and business are closed for an indefinite period and the World has gone into self-isolation while the countries imposed lockdown in the world in the severely hit areas to contain the outbreak at massive scale.

The pandemic has affected all the countries especially China, France, Italy, Germany, US, UK, Iran, Egypt and third world countries i.e Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and  Afghanistan and some African countries.

There are some countries which are severely impacted socially and economically while some countries have sustained moderate impact owing to taking timely preventive measures as per circulated guidelines of WHO and Local Health ministries of respective Countries.

With President Donald  Trump clipping the wings of  UN’s apex health body by cutting the financial support amid the Global Pandemic, the catastrophe is expected to go from bad to worse as WHO  will experience the funds’ shortage that will ultimately contribute to a deep humanitarian crisis. 

The world posts a bleak picture already as all business activities have been suspended, the markets have been closed for an indefinite period, the stock markets crashed and the unemployment ratio suddenly jumped to historical high due to covid-19 Pandemic. Even OPEC members have decided to cut the oil production given the pandemic situation. 

The Global economy has been severely impacted by the shocks of the deadly virus that prompted companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Face book, Twitter to ask their employees to work from home to avoid contracting  Covid-19.

All the industries have been impacted badly that include entertainment, Sports, food franchise has completely shutdown creating panicking situation all around as once busiest streets and markets have started presenting deserted look.

This global economic warrants that if the early remedy to cure covid-19 is not discovered, the future will be dreadful to predict. The mighty economies such as China, the US, France, Italy, UK, Germany has been seriously impacted by this deadly virus. The situation is haunting the people around the world, bringing misery of greater proportion as compared to Word War II, Ebola, SARS, MERS, Plage and Yaws.

The Daily Wage workers, Private workers, drivers, hawkers, shop keepers and thousands of similar workers have lost their jobs and the opportunity to earn their livelihood. The companies have preferred work from home option for their employees to limit the outbreak and avoid contracting covid-19.

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It is alarming that hundreds of workers have filed as unemployed. The lengthy lockdowns have created serious humanitarian and economic crises and the experts are of the view that the circumstances are fast moving towards the global recessions and may take a long time to recover from this catastrophe.

Though China has been able to contain Covid-19 and even lifted restrictions on outgoing flights with some strict SOPs, yet the Covid 19 seems to be an invisible predator waiting for its prey regardless of any region. The virus has impacted all the zones i.e with the cooler, hotter or moderate atmosphere.

The only solution to fight this pandemic is social distancing, maintaining the hygienic environment and avoiding crowdy spaces. The Governments around the world have imposed strict lockdowns and the frontline fighters (Health workers) around the world doing a marvellous job to protect their fellowmen even at the cost of falling prey to this deadly virus.

While fighting this pandemic. Many health workers have been tested positive. Even, some frontline soldiers lost their fight to this pandemic and laid down their lives to secure the future of their respective country.

Education is being imparted through digital platforms as online education is increasing for students. Though students are facing some issues such as the connectivity, Sound quality, Video Quality, yet in this emergency, the Schools, Colleges, Universities and other online course websites are striving to provide some light of  Knowledge in these difficult times.

The booming industries such as restaurants, hotels, motels and  Aviation have been closed for an indefinite period.

Coronavirus Pandemic has brought catastrophe in the world impacting all the industries and has caused economic slowdown throughout the world in all the major continents who are thickly populated such as Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa.

Unfortunately, despite 151598 deaths worldwide and over 2.21 Million confirmed cases covid-19, all eyes are hooked towards the discovery of vaccine to treat the patients and save their lives. At the moment, only plasma therapy is being conducted and some common medicines are being used such as cough, flu fever-related medicine.

Though human trials have been started by some  Pharmaceutical companies, the experts are of the view that it may take one and half year for the vaccine to be available in the market. It is also estimated to be the costliest vaccine ever keeping in view its global implications and rapid speed of pandemic spread in the world.

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It is estimated that Europe, Asia, Middle East to suffer a lot especially, Italy, France, UK, Iran and US as the ratio of deaths is higher than other countries especially US where average deaths per days have surpassed all other nations that prompted Trump to cut funding to world health Organization accusing it of mishandling the pandemic and delayed response to mitigate its implication while  WHO head has refuted the allegations.

The covid-19 has also impacted Sports, News & Media, Entertainment and Services Industries to the extent that. All the sporting events have been suspended, series and Leagues have been rescheduled and big events such as  PSL, IPL, FIFA  World Cup, Olympics Games and others have been completely cancelled raising concerns among the players. Even the players are facing the trauma having travel history to the epicentre of Covid-19 Pandemic and tested positive.

 The Entertainment industry has been heavily impacted as all the dramas, Films and comedy shooting and recording has been postponed till indefinite period and all the events including concerts have cancelled due to covid-19 and actors have lost the source of living.

The services industry especially the skilled and non-skilled have been subjected to starvation as all the roadside small business such as Hair Cutting Salons, Cobblers, Gold and blacksmith shops, Electricians, Booksellers, daily wages workers and Masons have lost their living owing to lockdowns globally.

 Finally, the Print and Electronic  Media are partially impacted though they are a very vulnerable community as they have been busy in coverage of the pandemic around the world and are prone to contracting the deadly virus due to close contact with Patients at Quarantine Centres and the Health specialists working at the hospital and temporary health centres specially set up for an emergency.

The Print Media has been hit hard as people consider it risky to read a Print copy of newspapers over covid-19 fears and prefer paper or online edition of the newspapers. Hence, such a trend has impacted the Newspaper  Sales badly.

On the other hand, electronic media such as News Channels, Radio and Digital Media such as Websites, YouTube are grabbing people’ attention.

The Social Media is also buzzing with Covid-19 updates though  Social Media and Silicon Valley companies have asked their employees to work from home and follow the preventive measures these include Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft and Search Giant  Google.

The world should be united to fight this global pandemic that is haunting the world. The US should release funds to help WHO work effectively for global health and expedite the process of vaccine discovery as each day will deprive the near and dear ones of the families around the world. With collaborative efforts, the world can win this war against the pandemic.

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Democracy

Social Media and Polarization of our Society

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Social Media has witnessed a mushroom growth that has impacted the discourse of political, cultural and religious systems by providing the equal opportunity of freedom of expression and of sharing an opinion or viewpoint on any issue.

Social Media has played a greater role in right-wing politics that paved the way for populist politicians to reach out to their voters.

Though Social Media has connected the people around the world, at the same time, it is causing division or disintegration and facilitating the social media lobbyists to polarize the communication so much the people support the arguments or opinions or political tirades against leaders without fact checking.

The world has been rocked by social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube because the users of these social networks have already surpassed millions and are growing, but due to the limited regulatory framework, fake news, cyberbullying, extremism and terrorism has reached new heights.

The influencers’ interactions with social media users have polarized the political and social circles that led to the formation of online echo chambers, a tactic of social media recommendations by politicians to influence the users to strengthen their narrative regardless of facts that whether it is right or wrong, but it is knit in a manner that echo chambers appear to be normal for the people thus changing the way of thinking and increasing the supporters base.

The echo chambers post such content that we enjoy a lot while reading, while keeping us away from the content that may stir a debate or arguments or expression of our disagreement over certain social, economic, religious, cultural or policy matters.

The echo chambers keep ideas flowing on a regular basis to the one side –the positive side of the argument, while its negative side is deliberately concealed to hide the facts.

This is the big issue that might be discussed with students, who should be informed and taught at school, college or degree level so that positive and constructive use of this digital medium could be ensured.

Social media connectivity around the world is undoubtedly amazing but the problems it created for both people and students are very dangerous, and need to be addressed and regulated.

Digital media, especially social media, for a long time remained unbridled to post any content that may fall in the purview of hatred, racism, bullying, derogatory remarks, character assault, rebellion, or anti-state elements instigating people to create chaos using the olive branch of social media. Since it was not monitored given the type of content being circulated and the information of people posting such content, including their motives behind such content as may have a constant flow of information that is recommended by the users pretending to be professionals, experts and mentors.

Alarmingly, people without fact-checking go on sharing the content and thus creating hype for such an issue as does not have a basis and was the result of a conspiracy to exert pressure on some person or leaders to get some favours.

The schools and colleges should chalk out the initiative to create awareness and practice of fair use so that social platforms should not post single or one-sided opinions or arguments but should welcome both so that positive use could be ensured. This will further the importance of social media.

Sometimes, the active echo chambers or volcanoes erupt over such issues as may be beneficial for the wider circle of society, but this finds serious criticism masterminded by people with an individual approach. They term it detrimental for them since it did not serve their interests, though it might have been beneficial for general people.

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Humans have an intuitional inclination to communicate with like-minded people or the people with the same choices on social media, thus the echo chambers get even stronger. The discourse that discourages dissenting voices always comes under fire from the thinkers and intellectuals of the nation since it is tantamount to concealing the facts from the people.

The world is coming closer after the covid-19 pandemic that engulfed the entire world, bringing misery and economic crisis. The social media debates go with biased and unbiased approaches regarding getting the vaccine. Some optimists termed it great, while some pessimists or biased approaches raised questions.

The echo chambers try to influence their opinions and win support.Similarly, echo chambers of both Democrats and Republicans only canvassed for their candidates but the leaders instigated the masses to attack Capitol Hill through social media and emotional speeches using their influence on social media, especially Twitter .

Some researchers have found that echo chambers influence people to win support but social media influencers have a follower-base of millions, and may polarize the public and politics, since influencers share success stories like internet marketers compelling you to buy their products.

The opinion leaders and experts reveal that for the last two decades, the percentage of American people having consistently holding liberal or conservative beliefs— rather than a blend of the two, which is the case for most people— has increased from 10 percent to over 20. Beliefs about the other side are becoming more negative creating an alarming situation.

Since 1994, the number of people who see the opposing political party as a threat to “the nation’s well-being or security” has doubled, which heralds how deepening polarization has predictable results raising eyebrows.

The government shutdowns, violent protests, scathing attacks on elected officials, the capitol Hill incident –all indicate that social media have been polarizing the political system and divided the nation each passing day due to echo chambers of both mainstream parties regarding the issues of health, security, human rights, employment and environment.

According to evidence from empirical research conducted on US politicians, politicians following extreme ideologies attracted a larger public audience than those who were moderate, which is the real example of echo chambers.

Usually, messages containing extreme thoughts, emotional instigation, patriotism, or criticizing the opposition received a warm welcome on social media platforms than those messages reflecting merely information.

The polarization of issues and political ideology will have serious repercussions in future that should be addressed on a timely basis so that societies could be saved from further isolation and disintegration.

The issues could be resolved through educating the people and creating awareness about the fair and professional use of social media channels for advocacy for winning support for legislation, an issue, a policy or employment.

Instead of showing the dark side of the issue, we have to educate people regarding both pros and cons of matters of importance for the general public rather than misleading the people with biased approaches to oppose the initiative of the government, community or civil society for the general benefit.

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Social Media network operators are the bigwigs and the most influential in this.They cannot be controlled but only  be regulated by framing such laws that  may ensure fair use of this digital platform and are careful so that users may not face any legal issue by discussing sensitive issues such as desecration of holy places, religions, personalities, anti-state tirades, rebellion, terrorism, extremism and so on. The sensitive issue may stir protests and cause legal proceedings, if the cyber-regulatory laws are implemented to discourage the influence of one-sided opinions or campaigns.

We cannot deny the importance of social media platforms as they provide equal opportunity to people to express and share their thoughts or opinions, but safe and thoughtful use of these platforms will encourage healthy discourse and prove pivotal in promoting dialogue to discuss social, economical and cultural issues peacefully without hitting the sentiments of other communities.

Thus, echo chambers will be less powerful to build a narrative that is appealing but the readers will be engaging themselves in the debates that need interaction.

Undoubtedly, social media platforms have changed the political and social approach of the people and enabled face-to-face digital interaction through video and audio conference calls, so their fair use will mitigate their cons manifold.

The social media networks apply algorithms to connect you with like-minded people but it is up to you whether your engagement in communication is either unbiased or biased.

Social media should be promoting positive discourse to explore the political and economic solutions to the problems of people by reflecting the two sides of the coin so that the discourse be constructive and problem-solving. Social media has given a voice to marginalized people and governments are compelled to resolve the issues of people on a priority basis due to trending topics of social media.

Even the populist leaders may face resistance from social media as the public makes the most of the freedom of expression and criticizes the role of politicians for their failure to address the issues of the public.

In recent times, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have been creating history in highlighting issues of both public and national interest but at the same time such platforms have been taken by storm by those influencers who continue to feed the news about their vested interests and create psychosocial hype for any issue that may jolt the power corridors of Government.

The politicians always take to Twitter for their precise viewpoint and policy debate and are usually followed by millions of followers. Even the print and electronic media take the tweets as policy statements or the narrative of some party or group.

The schools and colleges should chalk out the initiative to create awareness and practice of fair use so that social platforms should not post single or one-sided opinions or arguments but should welcome both so that positive use could be ensured. This will further the importance of social media.

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