The world's biggest election is underway in India and, as India's 714 million voters cast their ballots in the month-long elections, they are witness to a range of digital initiatives from political parties , civil society organizations , media houses  and even corporates . It's not surprising, then, that the Indian internet community is abuzz with discussions related to various aspects of the elections.
It's not only a big election in terms of numbers, it's a big election for India in terms of timing. Last November, the terrorist attack in Mumbai  shook up India's politically apathetic youngsters and brought them out into the streets. Since then, a series of digital civil society initiatives have sought to channel this newfound sense of civic engagement in the Indian youth into meaningful participation in the political process.
In the run up to the elections, online conversations in India have been charged with this civic consciousness. Transparency campaigns like No Criminals in Politics  and Vote Report India  and voter registration campaigns like Tata Tea's Jaago Re  have caught the imagination of urban India's web-savvy youngsters, with their effective use of social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.
Rashmi Bansal  believed that, with the campaign, Tata Tea has taken corporate social responsibility further than most brands do. Rajesh Kumar  wondered why only beverage companies do election themed social advertising. Indian Homemaker  and Chavvi Sachdev  shared their experiences with voter registration. Sanjukta  did an interesting interview with Jaago Re campaign coordinator Jasmine Shah.
Anondan  tore apart the Lead India print ad while Rajiv Dingra  wondered about the rationale behind the Lead India/ Bleed India dichotomy. On Twitter, several users like Deepak  and Kanika , found the Bleed India campaign “funny and creative”, while Sumant  and Aadisht  believed that Bleed India was “buzz gone wrong” and “badly done sarcasm”.
BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani's Obama-style digital campaign consisting of a blog , a blogger outreach program , and an aggressive internet and mobile advertising element, has also evoked strong reactions online.
Most bloggers, including Sampad Swain , Mayank Dhingra  and myself , have praised BJP's campaign, but some, like blogger-turned columnist Sidin Vadukut  have complained that it is an overkill.
The Congress Party's Bharat Buland  campaign, built around the Oscar-winning song Jai Ho (let there be victory) from Slumdog Millionaire, has attracted a lot of criticism from bloggers like Vinod Sharma , especially after the BJP released a parody titled Bhay Ho  (let there be fear).
Several bloggers like Rajesh Jain  (associated with Friends of BJP ), Offstumped  are aggressively campaigning for BJP. The #indiavotes09 Twitter feed is dominated by hardcore BJP supporters like @offstumped , @centerofright , and @deadpresident , with only @vimoh  and @b50  standing up for Congress.
Beyond the campaigns, bloggers have been critical of BJP's Hindutva agenda and the Congress party's obsession with the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Bhumika Ghimire  has written about these critcisms in a previous Global Voices post.
The Indian internet community has also been abuzz with discussions on the controversy surrounding Varun Gandhi's inflammatory anti-Muslim speech and subsequent imprisonment, the incidents of shoe-throwing against Congress politicians P Chidambambaram and Naveen Jindal and BJP leader L K Advani, and the election campaigns of writer Shashi Tharoor  , danseuse Mallika Sarabhai and ABN AMRO India chief Meera Sanyal .
In the midst of this spirit of civic engagement, some people have become fixated on the misguided idea of “negative voting” under section 49(O) . Basically, the idea is that voters should have the right to ask for a re-election by selecting a “none of the above” option, if none of the candidates are acceptable to them. A chain e-mail falsely claimed that such a rule already exists. Many bloggers, like Deva Prasad  and Vimoh , strongly supported the idea and even called it a powerful agent of change. A Facebook group  and an online petition  promoting the idea are getting some traction.
In terms of individual sources, the Outlook India Election Blog is doing a great curation role by linking to important stories from elsewhere. Social networking community IndiPepal  has blogs  from several well-known analysts. Blogger Chakresh Mishra  is doing a series of state-wise pre-poll predictions for the Indian elections. Blogger Manoj Kevalramani  is traveling through 11 states in 45 days to get a first-hand impression of the mood on the ground during the election period. The Indian Muslims Blog  is writing about the elections from a unique minority perspective. Jai Hind , Indian Election 2009 , Indian Elections 2009 , Indian Elections , Speak India  and Youth Ki Awaaz  are some other blogs dedicated to election coverage. BlogAdda  and OneVote  are doing a great job of aggregating these conversations.
This post is part of the Global Voices special coverage on Indian Elections 2009