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Breaking 'Sarkaari' Stereotypes, How Team ISRO Grabbed Global Eyeballs Tweet by Tweet

Over the last few months, the space agency has kicked in a proactive campaign to get the aam aadmi involved, or at least interested, in its work — some of it is outsourced to private agencies or vendors.

Deepa Balakrishnan | CNN-News18deepab18

Updated:September 7, 2019, 3:39 AM IST
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Breaking 'Sarkaari' Stereotypes, How Team ISRO Grabbed Global Eyeballs Tweet by Tweet
A graphic on Chandrayaan-2 tweeted by ISRO on Friday.
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Bengaluru: Kicking off the countdown for Chandrayaan-2's 'terrifying 15 minutes', the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had on Friday come up with an uber-cool way of sharing the excitement with citizens.

From animations to quizzes, photos and actual footage, ISRO has recently been using interactive methods on social media to engage people, capturing the imagination of lakhs of Indians.

Going by the social media outreach, you would probably wonder if it is really a stereotypical "sarkaari" organisation of the country. Earlier, when it was working on the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), 'MOM' got its own Twitter handle to interact with others.

This time, it went all out in interacting online with people, getting youngsters to participate in its quiz, responding to gestures like cards sent by school children from far off states, opening up its premises for people who register online to come and watch during the rocket launch, and generally commanding a lot of goodwill all around.

However, in an anti-climatic end to the day, communications from Chandrayaan-2's Vikram lander to ISRO's ground station was lost before touchdown while the nation eagerly awaited its soft landing on the hitherto unexplored lunar south pole in the early hours of Saturday.

Over the last few months, the space agency had kicked in a proactive campaign to get the aam aadmi involved, or at least interested, in its work — some of it is outsourced to private agencies or vendors, some of it is executed from within. The public relations team at ISRO, though, has had many hands on deck from other teams who have been part of the ideating process, giving them new ways to approach every development.

"When an event of this scale takes place, people who run the show don't have that many hands to get the job done. So we pool in resources from other teams and do the activity — all of us at ISRO have been part of the ideation," says an official on condition of anonymity.

While some of the work for actual execution of ideas is outsourced to agencies or professional artists, much of the strategy is gained from within. There is a decisive campaign to not make it a one-way traffic — that it should be two-way interaction as much as possible.

The fact that it had touched the minds of thousands of youngsters — going by the response of school children who have participated in large numbers to events and contests — shows that it is certainly working.

"Our entire aim was to catch imagination of youngsters — all our programmes are long term programmes — this generation, once they retire, someone has to take over and you need some kind of passion and drive to work here; that drive cannot be germinated when you are just starting off on some project. It has to build over years. Out of the thousand or one lakh children, even if ten are motivated and inspired to work, not just with ISRO but any activity related to it, this inspires the process," said the official.

There is a regular review of all the outreach strategies too, he adds.

"The whole strategy — as you would have noticed — is worked out based on the response for our social activities. We cannot straitjacket a strategy, if one is not working, then you have to work on something else. You have to go with the response on social media platforms," he told News18.

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| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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