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AI, GIS, big data helped in successful Bharat Bandh on April 2: Dalit activists

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

The Bharat Bandh on April 2 called by groups was a result of the successful use of (AI), the (GIS) and big data, according to a core group of US-based activists.

The protest, which surprised many because of its sudden eruption, was organised against the alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

New Jersey-based Deelip Mhaske, who heads a network of some 100 overseas activists based in the US, the UK, and the said the protest shows that no longer need to be affiliated to any political establishment.

"A new era for Dalit politics has begun by adopting artificial intelligence, the and social media," Mhaske told in an interview as he gave an insight into how Dalit groups were mobilised during the protest.

Most of these Dalit activists in the group are from the IT sector and work in some of the top info-tech companies.

Except for Mhaske, who has formed the Foundation for

Human Horizon out of New York, no one wished to be identified.

Several of them who spoke to on condition of

anonymity, said that over the past three years, they have

worked to create a based network of like-minded

Dalit activists across India, who are primarily focused in 100

parliamentary constituency in six politically crucial states

of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and

"April 2 Bharat Bandh was a trial run. It was successful," Mhaske said.

Over the past few years, the group has used to harvest millions of publicly available data and those from the platforms like to identify and target the groups to foment unrest against

Mhaske claimed in the last three years, the group has spent between USD 300,000-USD 500,000 in purchasing relevant data from

One of the recent ones was purchased from a London- based company. But, members of the group insist that this is "certainly not" from the UK-based Cambridge Analytica, which is at the data scandal.

According to the 56-page 'and Dalit Atrocities: A report on for Dalit

Advocacy Group' prepared by this London-based data analytics

firm, have potential to influence 100 constituency using social media, making them the game changers of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

An abridged version of the report was with

For about a week, the PTI was also given access to

some of the closed and groups created in

various parts of the country to give a sense of the modus- operandi and nature of work of these overseas Dalit activists

and how they are using these to further

their cause.

The access has now been withdrawn.

The report says that the Dalit's is

now sufficiently widespread to have the power to influence the

outcome of the 100 seats in the next Lok Sabha elections and

consequently government formation.

can empower to eliminate caste-based atrocities as well as increase their participation in the policy making, the report said, emphasising the need for Dalit advocates to draw to connect Dalits.

A London-based Dalit activist said the April 2 Bharat

Bandh was a trial run for "peer-to-peer" targeting, as now it

believes that the mobile revolution in has created

enough critical mass of

Initially, the plan was to test waters on April 14,

the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, by a nationwide

instant protest.

However, the group decided to give it a trial run on

April 2 following a verdict, which created a sense of anger among Dalits.

Giving an insight into the network, one of the IT

experts from the group said that the census and election

commission data on electorate was collected and compared with

the data published by on their website.

"We culled the data from this page, constituency by

constituency, one constituency at a time," the Dalit IT expert


"The use of in social mapping is new and

not tested before with the vulnerable population like Dalits,"

the report said.

Mhaske said the data analytics and social media

company hired to analyse the caste atrocities relationship to

the people's social media post, government responses and

unrested areas socio-political issues, including the political

representations, found no relationship between the elected

political leaders or party affiliation and increase in the


The had on March 20 diluted certain provisions of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, in a bid to protect 'honest' public servants discharging bona fide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act.

The apex court's verdict is being widely criticised by the Dalits and the Opposition who claim that the dilution of the Act will lead to more and crimes against the backward community.

After the Supreme Court's verdict, a detailed social

media plan was created and feed was sent to the local groups

in 100 Lok Sabha constituencies.

"People joined the call without knowing who is

calling it. 'Bharat Bandh' was called through social media using and social media technology," Mhaske said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 17 2018. 15:45 IST