It STARTED with Aamir Khan’s intolerance remark last November, when the actor had shared his wife Kiran Rao’s desire to move out of India. The quote was then dissected in Parliament, on TV channels and social media. That’s when the University of Hyderabad alums, Anuj Goel and Akshat Jain got thinking about their second venture, Swipe (the other being a cyber security startup, Cyware).
With Swipe, you can voice your opinion on topical and social issues, impacting your city and the country at large. This is done by casting a ‘vote’. The results yielded by these ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes will be later shared with NGOs — Child Rights and You (CRY) , Bangalore Political Action Committee and Amnesty International India — to take action. These numbers, the duo feels, can offer a better perspective on an issue to policy makers.
Jain goes back to the intolerance debate. “There was a lot of ‘junk opinion’ floating on social media then. I mean, how many had genuine insights into the issue, and how many were just sharing the posts and trolling the actor for the sake of looking informed, was something I couldn’t figure out. That’s when Goel and I thought we must quantify the opinion to gauge public sentiment better,” says Jain.
Since its May launch, the app (Android and iOS) has seen more than 10,000 users and one lakh votes. Here’s how to use it. Sign up with your name, and choose the topics of your interest from segments like politics, administration, business, health, sports and technology. Its ‘Creative Scientist’ team posts seven to eight questions every day, with background information about each, so that netizens can make an informed decision. Swipe right to say ‘yes’ to a question, and left for a ‘no’ (you can’t undo your vote). And if you want to explain your stance, write it down in the comment box. The users can also post a question under the ‘AskIndia’ tab.
Questions like ‘Is it acceptable for an ambulance to wait until a minister’s car passes?’ and ‘Should Pakistani players be allowed to play in the IPL?’ have been the user favourites so far. CRY has joined hands with the team to post questions about the issue of child labour.
Jain drives home the importance of numbers with this example, “We asked ‘Should dumping of waste in lakes be stopped immediately?’. We were sure we would get 100 per cent votes for ‘yes’, but 22 per cent voted ‘no’. They were by people representing industrial bodies, and had their own reasons. That’s why numbers are so important, we feel.”
— Barkha Kumari