File photograph | The News Mill

The huge constructive role played by social media during the recent spell of floods in Assam has once again brought to fore the positive side of the contemporary medium of communication. Be it in terms of spreading awareness or raising funds for the victims, the modern medium of communication has played a tremendous role in connecting hearts of the people.

Mokar Riba, currently SDO of Doimukh in Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh, had graduated from Cotton College, Guwahati. In a WhatsApp group of his former hostel mates, he inquired how to donate for the flood victims of Assam.

An Assam government official, who is also part of the group, gave him the link of the chief minister’s relief fund. Two days later, Riba shared a slip showing that he had donated Rs 5,000 for flood relief. “I owe a lot to Assam. I am donating this meagre amount for the people of Assam from the core of my heart,” said Riba.

Hundreds and thousands others have joined the movement in no time even as the spell of flood is yet to be over. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp are flooded with messages categorised as #AssamFloods, #PrayForAssam and #ActForAssam among others. These top trending hashtags helped bringing together people from across geographical boundaries to contribute for the noble cause.

The movement received further momentum with Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar donating Rs 2 crore. He tweeted: “Absolutely heartbreaking to know about the devastation by floods in Assam. All affected, humans or animals, deserve support in this hour of crisis. I’d like to donate 1 cr each to CM Relief Fund & for Kaziranga Park rescue. Appealing to all to contribute…..”

Obviously, the actor received a huge applause in social media for his generosity. On the other hand, some took to their social media handles to lambast Priyanka Chopra, and even demanded Akshay Kumar be made the brand ambassador of Assam instead.

Later, his video appeal seeking help for the flood victims also became viral. The actor’s explanation how he was moved by a picture of a mother carrying her child on the shoulder in neck-deep water was enough to hit sentiment across social media.

Gauging the public sentiment – social media divulged the trend — that they want to do something for flood-ravaged people, the Assam government also promptly introduced a UPI ID, the more user-friendly method for collecting donations for the CM’s Relief Fund. The response has been tremendous since.

“Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal always likes to walk the talk. He crisscrossed the state at the peak of flood to stand by the victims and ensure prompt relief measures,” a senior official with the Assam chief minister’s office said, adding, “Under his instructions, we promoted CM’s relief fund link on various social media platforms. Although there is no dearth of funds for flood relief, his idea is to involve people with the process, which will make the government more accountable to the public.”

Social media has time and again witnessed rise of collective consciousness. They showed great humane spirit during Kerala floods, Cyclone Feni in Odisha and they have done it again. This is quite in contrast with the sporadic incidents of hate mongering and incitement of violence by a section of people through social media.

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About Dhiraj Sarma


The author, a former journalist, is currently working with MyGov Assam as Project Manager


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