By Oxfam India
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Indian CEOs Stick To Script, Don’t Tweet On Issues

Most Indian CEOs seem wary of airing opinions on Twitter

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Indian CEOs Stick To Script, Don’t Tweet On Issues
Indian CEOs Stick To Script, Don’t Tweet On Issues

Less Than 10% BSE 100 CEO Active On Twitter

Less than ten percent of BSE 100 CEOs are active on Twitter, an analysis by Oxfam India shows. Oxfam India analysed the Twitter activity of BSE 100 CEOs to measure their civic engagement. Twitter handles of the CEOs were analysed to tweets that relate to caste discrimination, religious intolerance, freedom of speech, rights of women and members of the LBGTQI community, agricultural distress and labour rights.

While nearly a quarter BSE 100 CEOs have a Twitter profile, only ten tweeted, at least, once a month. Most CEOs use their Twitter profiles for broadcasting news and promotional material about their companies. Few engage with others on the messaging platform. Founder CEOs and CEOs who are part of families that owns a majority shares in the companies are relatively more open to interactions than professional CEOs.

Oxfam India analysed 32,220 tweets between 2010 and 2018 were across twitter profiles of BSE 100 CEOs. Only six tweeted on any one among the issues of civic importance--women’s issues, caste discrimination, religious intolerance, LGBTQI rights, freedom of expression, agricultural distress and workers rights.

Most number of tweets were made on women’s rights (82), followed by farm crisis (seven) and religious intolerance (two). None of the BSE 100 CEOs tweeted on caste discrimination, LGBTQ rights, labour rights and freedom of expression.

Women’s rights and safety became a conversation in India following the gang-rape of a young woman in the capital New Delhi in December 2012. Following the incident, there were numerous protests across the country and women’s safety and rights assumed importance in political, commercial and personal contexts in India.

The same shows in the tweets of BSE 100 CEOs, where following the incident, women’s rights, empowerment and sports become a topic of engagement. Since 2012, the volume of tweets supporting women’s causes has only consistently increased. Most such tweets are published on the occasion of Women’s Day and women’s sporting events. Three CEOs who buck the trend are Anand Mahindra of Mahindra and Mahindra Limited, Anil Rai Gupta of Havells India Limited and Punit Goenka of Zee Entertainment Enterprise Limited. All three are part of family-run legacy businesses. The three CEOs have consistently supported the cause of women empowerment and entrepreneurship.

Key Highlights

  • Total Number of CEOs: 100

  • Number of BSE 100 CEOs on Twitter: 21

  • Total active CEOs (at least one tweet a week): 10

  • Total Tweets analysed: 31.6K

  • Most discussed issue: Women’s rights, agricultural distress

  • Least discussed issues: LGBTQI rights, freedom of expression, workers’ rights and caste discrimination, religious intolerance

  • Most active CEO: Anand Mahindra, Mahindra and Mahindra Limited

  • Least active CEOs: Saugata Gupta, Marico Limited, and Gurdeep Singh, NTPC Limited,

  • Most socially conscious (Have tweeted on at least three issues under considerations): Anand Mahindra, Mahindra and Mahindra Limited, CP Gurnani, Tech Mahindra Limited and Anand Rai Gupta of Havells India Limited.

    Caste Discrimination, Labour Rights Untalked Of

Mahindra is an outlier in the list. He has tweeted 18,247 times since joining Twitter on 22 April 2009. He is one of the first CEOs to embrace Twitter, tweets average five times a day and is an influencer on the platform with 6.92 million followers. Every other CEO pales compared to him. His messaging is a mix of brand communication, personal views on news and public issues, and personal update. In fact, he is the only CEO who has openly supported and tweeted his views on the women’s reservation bill. Mahindra also consistently tweets about women employees, their contribution and achievements at his company.

Since 2013, religious intolerance assumed increased importance in India following a spike in targeted violence against religious minorities, most notably Muslims. The government of India does not maintain data on hate crimes in India. But its data on communal violence suggests 28% increase in religious riots between 2014 and 2017. “Muslims were the target of 51% of violence centred on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) – and they comprised 84% of 25 Indians killed in 60 incidents,” notes India Spend, a data journalism initiative in India that maintains a database of hate crimes in India.

Between September 2015 and February 2017, nearly 40 Indian authors awarded by Sahitya Akademi, India’s Academy of Letters, returned their awards protesting increasing religious intolerance and polarization in India. The event was triggered by the murder of MM Kalburgi, a scholar of Kannada literature and a Sahitya Akademi awardee, for speaking about superstitions in Hinduism.

During the period Umang Vohra of Cipla Limited and Mahindra tweeted about religious tolerance and personal responsibility in reducing polarisation in the country. On 3 September 2017, Vohra tweeted a newspaper clipping about Eid being held in a Gurudwara in Dehradun. He wrote, “And today pleased to see this in the TOI.. Shows how there can be unity and progress with diversity.” Mahindra, on 9 October 2018, quote tweeted a Times of India report about north Indian migrants fleeing Gujarat after being attacked and wrote, “he biggest threat to India is our internal divisiveness.We accused the British of dividing us;today we’ve only ourselves to blame.We can’t blame politicians either;Each one of has to rise above our state loyalties or else we will not be a nation..but only a collection of Islands”

Among the CEOs under consideration, Mahindra has also tweeted the most (three tweets) about the crisis in agriculture. He is followed by Gupta (two tweets) and Goenka (one tweet).

These tweets focus on why farm loan waivers are inefficient and the need to fix the agriculture supply chain to improve the income of farmers. Agricultural distress has been the focus of conversation in India for at least past decade.

No CEOs tweeted on the issue of caste discrimination, LGBTQI issues, labour rights and freedom of expression.

Click here to view the data analysis.