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            [post_content] => Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has been ranked the fifth most followed global leader on Instagram, according to a research study released by global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller earlier this month.

Over the past five years, governments and world leaders have increasingly flocked to the mobile photo and video sharing network to present more personalized images of themselves to a global audience.

In Indonesia, Jokowi uses several social media platforms – including Instagram – to share pictures and videos to engage with millennials and draw the public to participate in the country's political processes.

Burson-Marsteller presented the report, titled "Most Followed World Leaders on Instagram," which ranked 10 world leaders based on how many social media followers they have managed to accumulate and engage with.

The study showed that the number of users who follow Jokowi's Instagram account – @Jokowi – grew a stunning 673 percent over the past 12 months to a total of 3.7 million users.

The president also ranked fourth on the firm's "World's Most Interactive Leader" list, recording a total 17 million interactions with followers last year.

[caption id="attachment_655786" align="aligncenter" width="300"]President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo trails the White House, Pope Francis, Donald Trump and India's Narendra Modi on the 'Most Followed World Leaders on Instagram' list by Burson-Marsteller. (Photo courtesy of Burson-Marsteller) President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo trails the White House, Pope Francis, Donald Trump and India's Narendra Modi on the 'Most Followed World Leaders on Instagram' list by Burson-Marsteller. (Photo courtesy of Burson-Marsteller)[/caption]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi topped the list with 6.8 million followers, ahead of US President Donald Trump with 6.3 million.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis ranked third with 3.7 million Instagram followers, narrowly leading the White House's official Instagram account with a total of 3.4 million.

The firm also recorded Jokowi as having a 3.68 percent interaction rate, averaging 59 thousand likes per post. President Trump surpassed the Indonesian leader with a 3.39 percent interaction rate, averaging 111,000 likes per post and placing him fourth on the "Most Effective World Leaders on Instagram" list.

However, Modi topped that list as well, with each of his posts receiving an average 223,000 and comments or likes per social media post. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ranked sixth on the most effective list, recording a user interaction rate of 6.4 percent.

Over the past 12 months, Khamenei garnered a total 89 million interactions to his 1,423 social media posts, surpassing Pope Francis's 45 million interactions but behind Trump's total of 114 million.

Donald Baer, chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, said in a statement the study aims to show the popularity and effectiveness of how world leaders and governments communicate with their constituents on digital platforms.

"Leaders around the world are pursuing daring communication techniques that show [...] personality and creativity. Leaders in business and other sectors can learn from the way the government uses Instagram."

To expand their social media accounts, some world leaders hire official photographers to capture moments, or do it themselves by taking "selfies," or self-portrait photos typically captured through smartphones.

Through his official Instagram account, President Jokowi is among 13 world leaders who have uploaded selfies to Instagram, including Argentine President Mauricio Macri (@MauricioMacri), Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (@PenaNieto), Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (@ Damedvedev) and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg (@Erna_Solberg).
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            [post_content] => Lucknow, India. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi outcampaigned all-comers in the 2014 general election but, as he faces his biggest midterm test, he is up against a rival determined to beat him at his own game.

In Uttar Pradesh his opponent, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, has been repackaged as a youthful and media-savvy go-getter who seeks to steal a unique selling point of Modi's – development.

"I am taking it a bit beyond Modi: I work," Yadav told Reuters in an interview in Lucknow, capital of the state of 220 million that is holding the biggest democratic election anywhere in the world this year.

"My work speaks for itself. Modi's empty promises do not," said the 43-year-old leader of the Samajwadi, or Socialist, Party.

Yadav entered the vast election, being held over the course of a month, as a narrow favorite: He had just emerged from a power struggle with his domineering father and struck a pre-poll alliance with the Indian National Congress.

While Modi excels as a stump speaker who can deliver an hour-long address without notes, Akhilesh has sought to connect with the youth vote via new media, taking personal control over his social media accounts and doing a Facebook Live with one of India's best-known TV journalists.

He has even climbed on a bicycle – his party's symbol – for another prime-time interview that gave him a chance to showcase the newly landscaped riverfront in the state capital.

Yadav's campaign has been backed by his wife Dimple, a federal lawmaker, who has courted women voters and helped create an image as a political "power couple."

Throughout, Yadav has stayed firmly on message. Asked about endemic crime, he says he has set up a new police hotline that is ensuring quicker response times.

On developing his poor state where incomes average less than $750 a year, he highlights his achievements in building an expressway to Agra, site of the Taj Mahal, and a new city metro in Lucknow.

Winning and Losing

Yadav became the youngest-ever chief minister of Uttar Pradesh with a slim mandate, winning just 29 percent in the 2012 state poll.

But in the general election two years later he was swept away by a Modi "wave" as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 42 percent of the vote in the battleground state.

Yadav, who received a university education in Australia yet became typecast as the ineffectual scion of a political patriarch, decided he needed a makeover.

"It was at this point Yadav took a cue from Modi's image as a technology-loving modern man," said R.K. Mishra, an independent political analyst in Lucknow.

Yadav commissioned the construction of a mansion behind his old party headquarters to operate as his campaign "war room".

He met two dozen Indian and international political scientists, and roped in Harvard graduates and marketing gurus from Mumbai. They set up a big data operation - cloning the backroom setup used by Modi in his own rise to national power.

"The recruitment brief was clear: Everyone working in the war room should be in their thirties and have family in Uttar Pradesh," said Aashish Yadav, a campaign manager who previously worked at BBC Media Action, a development charity.

Aashish Yadav manages a team of 100 young men and women who compose jingles as well as messages that are circulated via WhatsApp and community radio services. "Modi's campaign looks jaded compared to our blitzkrieg," said Aashish.

Gangster Rule

It's been a tough sell for a party that under founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh's father, was criticized for breakdown of law and order. Many resented corruption that favored the Yadav community – a "backward" caste that makes up 9 percent of the population of Uttar Pradesh.

"Akhilesh had to dismantle the existing perception about himself and his party," said one close aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

By teaming up with Rahul Gandhi of Congress - another forty-something politician – Yadav hopes to prevail in the three-cornered contest with the BJP and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by Mayawati, a former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

"There is a great deal of ease between the two leaders and this is making Modi nervous," said an aide to Gandhi, who is the son, grandson and great grandson of Indian prime ministers.

Pre-election polls put the Yadav-Gandhi alliance and the BJP in a close race, but no surveys are allowed during voting held over seven stages. Results are due on March 11.

Gandhi and Yadav have both turned for advice to Prashant Kishor, the strategist who stage-managed Modi's triumphant 2014 march on New Delhi.

Kishor later switched sides to help a similar opposition alliance defeat the BJP in Bihar, another big northern state, in late 2015. He now divides his time between advising Congress and Samajwadi.

The BJP's state leader in Uttar Pradesh, Keshav Prasad Maurya, dismisses the alliance as a fiasco and called the war room a poor imitation.

"Yadav and Gandhi both lack imagination," he told Reuters. "Being Modi is different from being like Modi."

Reuters
            [post_title] => In India, Regional Rival Takes on Modi at His Own Game
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            [post_content] => Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump on the top 10 "World Leaders on Facebook" list, global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller said on Friday (24/02).

Burson-Marsteller prepared a  report which ranked world leaders based on their number of Facebook followers and engagement rate. The study analyzed 590 Facebook pages representing 169 governments which have a combined total of 311 million followers as of Feb. 1. In 2016, they published a total of 398,982 posts which have garnered 772 million interactions.

Facebook engagement rate is measured in interactions. On a Facebook page, that translates into likes, comments and shares of posts. It is a metric that social media marketers use to measure a brand, personality or company's effectiveness at engaging their audience.

Modi topped the list with 40 million followers, followed by Trump with 20 million. Modi's institutional page, Prime Minister's Office India, ranked third with 13 million followers. Queen Rania of Jordan ranked in fourth place with 10 million Facebook followers. Meanwhile, Turkish president Rece Tayyip Erdogan ranked in fifth place with eight million followers.

President Jokowi ranked ninth with six million followers.

[caption id="attachment_636998" align="aligncenter" width="300"](Image courtesy of Burson-Marsteller) (Image courtesy of Burson-Marsteller)[/caption]

Posts with videos uploaded directly to Facebook received the most interactions. Native video posts received an average of 4,847 interactions per post, including 824 shares and 623 comments and 297 reactions. The 47,739 Facebook videos posted on world leaders’ pages have been viewed 2.5 billion times with an average view count of 52,000.

Worldwide chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, Don Baer, said in a statement that the study reveals the impact of political communication on Facebook.

"This study offers an interesting perspective in seeing how corporate leaders take their lessons from world leaders by using Facebook. One of the ways to do it is by bringing a nuance of personality with the way they communicate," he said.

Chief executive of Burson-Marsteller in Europe, Middle East and Africa, Jeremy Gallbraith, said in the statement that the reason many resort to Facebook as a communication tool is because it is currently the biggest social network platform in the world.

"As the biggest social network, Facebook has considerable power and influence, and it is something that world leaders understand," he said.

Despite former US president Barack Obama’s low interaction rate, he was a trailblazer on Facebook. Last year, when Burson-Marsteller released the first edition of the study, Obama was at the top of the list with the most number of page likes at 46 million. By the time he had left office this January, he’d overshadowed all world leaders with 54 million followers on his personal page.

Modi, who became the most followed world leader on Facebook this year, also had the highest number of interactions, with 169 million in the last year.

The White House became the most visited institution on Facebook with four million check-ins —  a feature allowing users to let friends know where they are — followed by the State House Uganda and Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, each with 35,000 check-ins.

According to the report other Southeast Asian leaders also had a strong social media presence including Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, who each had more than two million followers.
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            [post_content] => New Delhi. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has quietly plugged a tax loophole used by the wealthy to buy real estate in someone else's name as part of his campaign against corruption, a senior tax official said on Monday (26/12).

While the focus of his administration was managing the fallout of a shock move last month to scrap old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, the official told Reuters that the department expected to step up scrutiny of real estate assets with suspicious titles.

Tax officials expected to use returns for the current year that are filed in July as well as other means such as raids and data from bank transactions to gather information about suspicious real estate assets, the official said.

"This is our priority for next year," said the official, requesting anonymity as unauthorized to speak to the media.

Any move to clean up India's messy real estate market could prove to be a mammoth and messy task and would come even as the Modi government is facing mounting criticism of its handling of the cash crunch that followed the scrapping of higher denomination currency notes.

India's land records are patchy and arcane. Analysts say people such as politicians, businessmen and non-resident Indians often use cash they haven't paid taxes on to buy property, but put it in the name of their relatives or trusted employees.

But often apartments and land pass down generations in a family without the original owner's name ever being changed in the title.

Data on the scale of such activity is not available. But industry estimates show about 5 percent to 10 percent of real estate in many cities is bought by people who have evaded taxes.

In his monthly radio address on Sunday, Modi defended demonetization, which he has billed as an attempt to fight corruption, and said the government would implement the law to clean up India's real estate records in coming days.

"There is no question of a retreat," Modi said.

The law, called the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, which came into effect on Nov. 1, says people who hold assets that don't actually belong to them could face up to seven years in jail, besides seizure of the property.

The government has yet to spell out how it will update real estate records and land registries.

Analysts said the real test for Modi would be to increase compliance and punish people who have evaded taxes without causing hardship to others.

"The relentless pursuit of black money needs to be backed by solid execution. Otherwise this will just remain on paper," said Amit Maheshwari, a partner at consultancy Ashok Maheshwary & Associates.

Reuters
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            [post_content] => Washington. US President Barack Obama will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington next month to discuss security and other issues and the Indian leader will be granted the rare honor of addressing both houses of Congress.

The White House said Obama and Modi will discuss economic growth, climate change, clean energy, and security and defense cooperation during their June 7 meeting.

It will be Modi's fourth trip to the United States since he became prime minister in 2014.

"The visit will highlight the deepening of the US-India relationship in key areas," the White House said in a statement. The two countries' partnership is seen as critical in Washington, which is seeking to counterbalance China's increasing power.

Modi will address a joint meeting of the US Congress, an opportunity extended to few foreign leaders, the day after the White House meeting, US House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a tweet.

The invitation is a sharp turnaround for Modi, who was once barred from the United States over massacres of Muslims. Last year there were only two joint addresses to Congress by Pope Francis and by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, another important US ally in Asia.

In 2005, then-US President George W. Bush's administration denied Modi a visa, citing a 1998 US law barring entry to foreigners who have committed "particularly severe violations of religious freedom."

More than 1,000 people  mostly Muslims  were killed in sectarian riots in Gujarat in 2002 when Modi had just become the state's chief minister. Modi has denied any wrongdoing, and India's Supreme Court in 2010 ruled there was no case.

Obama, who has adopted a "pivot to Asia" strategy and is keen to encourage a greater Indian military role in East Asia, quickly dismissed the issue by inviting Modi to the White House as soon as he called to congratulate him on winning the 2014 election.

The United States is also keen to encourage greater business and trade with India.

Progress has been only gradual, but in late March, the chief executive of US nuclear reactor maker Westinghouse Electric said he expected to sign a deal in June to build six reactors in India after marathon negotiations that began more than a decade ago.

The deal would be the first nuclear commercial power project since the United States and India agreed in 2008 to cooperate in the civil nuclear arena. Westinghouse is owned by Japan's Toshiba Corp.

Reuters
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            [post_content] => Mumbai. When Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this weekend as part of an Asian tour aimed at boosting sales, he will sit down with a man whose penchant for a selfie - often using his gold iPhone - can get him into trouble.

Modi breached electoral rules when he photographed himself holding his party's symbol of a lotus flower immediately after casting his vote in the 2014 general election, one of the many selfies he regularly takes with his Apple phone.

Cook meets the 65-year old prime minister in New Delhi on Saturday, and will be hoping Modi's enthusiasm for phones can help Apple as it tries to bolster sales in India.

While smartphone usage is surging as the middle class swells, most Indians still can't afford Apple's iPhones and the company has only about 2 percent market share in a country where 100 million phones were sold last year. Apart from snapping the usual selfie, Modi is likely to tell Cook that if Apple wants to sell more phones in India, it should make them there, and help the prime minister realize his ambition of turning the country into a manufacturing powerhouse. Cook will also have to remember not to come between Modi and his love of the limelight: on a trip to Silicon Valley in September Modi appeared to shove Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg aside so that the cameras could capture him fully. Cook and Modi's meeting will cap an unusually long trip to India that has seen the Apple boss pray at an elephant-god temple in Mumbai, watch cricket and dine with Bollywood stars. 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In a video monitored by the US intelligence group SITE, Islamic State mocked Muslims living in harmony with Hindus who worship cows, trees and the sun, and urged them to travel to IS-held territories in the "Caliphate". "In this land you get to have hatred for the kuffar . In this land you get to perform jihad," said an Indian fighter who is identified as Abu Salman al-Hindi operating in the Syrian province of Homs. "In this land your religion is safe. In this land Allah's Law is the highest. In this land you have nothing that stops you from doing good deeds, from doing da'wah, from preaching Islam. In this land your life, your honor, your property is protected." Another fighter then says Islamic State will come to India to liberate Muslims and avenge the violence perpetrated against them in 2002 in the western state of Gujarat as well Kashmir and the destruction of a mosque by Hindu zealots in 1992. "We will come back, with the sword, to free you, to avenge Babri mosque, Gujarat, Kashmir," the fighter says. More than 1,000 people were killed in Gujarat. Most of them were Muslims, attacked by Hindu mobs in retaliation for the burning of Hindus in a train. Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat at the time and faced allegations that he did not do enough to stop the bloodshed. But a Supreme Court-ordered investigation has said there was no case against him. India has suffered from Islamist attacks. In 2008 a militant group based in Pakistan launched a rampage through the city of Mumbai that killed 166 people and traumatized the country. 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"The (electricity) supply is erratic but we are happy that there has been a start," said Singh, a 37-year-old father of three, who employs a bullock to work the fields in Rampara Kisana, six hours' drive east of New Delhi. "We feel we have not been forgotten." As Modi approaches the halfway point of his five-year tenure, the leader of the world's biggest democracy has not had it easy. Key economic reforms are stalled, his "Make in India" push to turn the country into a manufacturing powerhouse has floundered and sizable minority groups blame him and his party for pushing a Hindu nationalist agenda at their expense. Yet his government has made progress elsewhere, most notably in the power sector where change is reaching distressed rural communities in Uttar Pradesh who will go a long way to deciding the outcome of the 2017 ballot. It was the prospect of tangible change that voters chose in 2014, propelling Modi to a landslide election victory won on the bold promise that "the good days are coming" for 1.3 billion people and by tapping dreams of a more modern India. While many promises remain unrealized, power reforms and the creation of tens of millions of new bank accounts have helped Modi maintain his popularity. In a February poll for India Today magazine, 40 percent of respondents chose him as the best candidate to be next prime minister, more than any other politician. Modi is personally stepping up pressure on ministers and bureaucrats to deliver results on everything from financial inclusion to infrastructure and electricity to jobs. One senior government source said Modi warned individual ministers this month that he was personally monitoring the performance of each ministry to shake them into action, as his impatience with underperformance grows. He is also expected to unveil a reshuffle of ministers within weeks, and underperformers could lose their jobs. Underlining the scale of his ambition, Modi has told power officials he wants to announce that every village has been electrified at his next federal budget in early 2017, 18 months ahead of the original target, a senior official told Reuters. That would allow him to tell voters he had beaten his own target on a flagship policy. "This government's job is to focus its energies on development, to take it (electricity) to every home, not like the erstwhile years where if the power reached ... a few homes in the village the government thought the work was over," Power Minister Piyush Goyal said in a recent interview. The prime minister's office declined to comment for this article. UPS AND DOWNS Modi, 65, has plenty to boast about; economic growth outstrips China's, foreign direct investment grew by a quarter in the 2015 financial year over the previous year and inflation has nearly halved since 2013. Still, recent state election defeats punctured his aura of invincibility, and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has seen ratings slip. The India Today poll showed a BJP-led coalition would win 286 parliamentary seats if there had been an election in February from 336 in 2014. Key economic reforms on land and tax remain blocked in parliament, where the opposition controls the upper chamber, and two consecutive droughts hit rural India hard. The government must also find employment for around a million people joining the workforce every month, another major preoccupation for Modi and his team. At a cabinet meeting earlier this year, Modi assessed progress on some key infrastructure projects and asked ministers to focus on those that would sustain the most jobs, a close aide to Modi said. At the meeting, Modi gave the example of how kings would embark on large-scale construction projects to deal with drought and unemployment in times of crisis. "Numerous new projects will have to be launched and creative ideas will have to be implemented, but we are yet to crack the code," the aide said. The BJP has also been accused of undermining India's traditions of religious tolerance by appealing to the Hindu majority, a shift that worries the Muslim population estimated at around 170 million people. "If growth doesn't pick up, if job creation doesn't pick up, that restlessness, that negative energy will manifest (itself) in social tensions," said Ajit Ranade, chief economist at industrial giant Aditya Birla Group. "The stakes are huge." UPPING THE ANTE Results in five regional elections, four of them opposition strongholds, are due on May 19. Of those, the BJP has set its sights on winning only the northeastern state of Assam. But it is Uttar Pradesh, India's biggest electoral prize, that Modi must win in a state poll next year to sustain his hope of one day gaining full control of parliament and a second term in 2019. That may explain why the rate of electrification is highest in the state, home to 200 million people including farmer Singh. Under an $11.4 billion scheme, more than 7,000 villages across the country were electrified in the 2015/16 financial year, the most since 2011/12, data from state-run Rural Electrification Corp show. That leaves 10,500 still unconnected, and is only a small percentage of India's 600,000 villages. Nor does an electrified village mean everyone living there has power. But reaching people in some of the poorest, most remote areas blunts criticism that Modi has put the rising middle class before rural communities. A new website monitors site visits to every village to assess progress, and releases photographs of incomplete work with the names and phone numbers of the engineers in charge. Power reforms also aim to end blackouts that regularly affect even the biggest cities, and to that end India has boosted coal output and cut the peak power deficit to 1.7 percent in March from 5.4 percent in mid-2014. The government has also won pledges of billions of dollars in funding for a push into solar energy and agreed a financial restructuring package for indebted utilities. Still, almost one in four Indians lives without electricity, long outages remain the norm and access to power depends on people's ability to afford it. POWER COMES AT A PRICE In Rampara Kisana, one of the last settlements before the road vanishes into the floodplain of a Ganges tributary, Singh was the first farmer to buy a television after power arrived in March. Farmers and their wives brandish passbooks for their first bank accounts, while children talk excitedly of promises to build underground cables bringing broadband. Yet power supply remains erratic, and many smaller settlements in the area are left out. In Patrampur village, 120 km southeast of the capital, residents said engineers arrived earlier this year to fix power cables that had been broken for more than a decade. Even then, it is often an unaffordable luxury. Villagers said the cost of a connection was between 1,500 and 2,000 rupees ($23 to $30), and several hundred rupees a month after that for electricity. Many people in Rampara Kisana and Patrampur are subsistence farmers, and do not know exactly how much they earn. But government data show that in Uttar Pradesh, the average monthly per capita income is 3,400 rupees. Samay Pal Singh, a maize farmer in Patrampur, said he could not afford the 1,800 rupees for a power connection, because of debts accrued in paying for his daughter-in-law's medical costs. "I feel bad about it. Everybody has electricity, but I have limited funds and no one is helping." Inside his room, a light fitting, with no bulb, dangled from the wall. 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