Its quite a fundamental poser that you have asked.
Social Networks from the days of orkut, myspace to facebook and twitter today are largely the domain of Silicon Valley and the reasons for that are diverse.
Ritesh Malik ,founder of innov8 , makes the point that in India we quite dont have the server capability to handle the kind of load that a global social media network would required. I partially do have to concede to this argument Ritesh makes, but that does not exclude the need for an alternative to social media networks like FB, that wreak havoc in marriages due to the invasion of privacy it creates and even amongst students is perceived to have become time-wasting forums.
A Fixed Follow the West Mindset amongst Indian Entreprenuers
In my opinion social media related startups is one sector we have been traditionally lagging behind primarily because the startups here are adopting the same methodologies as the Silicon Valley Companies in building social networks, which is to create a giant whiteboard where everyone is treated as equal and has little to worry about.
This is the greatest myth that is being perpetrated by blindly using social media sites like Facebook. All profiles might look alike but not all are equal. The challenges that indians and other developing/developed countries face in terms of infrastructure, employment, education, basic necessities are humongous, and current crop of social media sites are completely averse to this fact. While these sobering reasons mentioned above would not directly impact the use / development of a social media website , the point im trying to make is every such network exists for a reason, and facebook exists as a global scrapbook, while india's social media requirement is more to do with addressing our huge diversity, our long list of problems and so on.
No doubt Facebook plays an important role in building communities and formulating public opinion , as we saw in the case of the Tahrir Square Revolution but as i am mentioning repeatedly, the goal of Facebook is not even closely linked to what the goal of a social media network for the masses of India should be like.
Its easy to rant about a billlion dollar company, and excruciatingly tough to come up with an alternative, but unless one is pushed to do so, no entrepreneur would venture out on such a task.
In fact credit to this forum for being a very productive and intellectually stimulating forum for Indian entrepreneur's .
A Social / Business Networking Site for India
Many Entrepreneurs on this forum and elsewhere do approach me with what they consider to be good ideas and ask me for networking tips to move their business ideas forward. While my network itself is a fledgling one, i see the vast potential for a social media startup idea whose objective is summarized by the following statement
- How do we connect with great people ?
The idea is to compile a database of profiles in different sectors, (Software, Arts, Culture, Sports , Politics etc) of approachable people (In real life and on the internet). The reputation of each profile is upvoted according to popularity. This would also result in the proliferation of a small time entrepreneur's network by helping him to connect with the people that really matter to him so as to move his business idea forward. For example, some of the people in the governments Digital India program are very approachable and articulate, and they would be top profiles to get in touch with.