he Public Diplomacy division of the Ministry of External Affairs was awarded the prestigious Awards 2011 instituted by Governance Now magazine for innovative use of social media and Web 2.0 tools in government.

The dashboard tallies the daily number of tweets about developments in each listed country (the site is currently tracking Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Bahrain) and shows the average number of such tweets per minute for each country.

In recent years the lines between official government communication and social sharing have become increasingly blurred, with platforms such as Twitter and Facebook emerging as legitimate (and even preferred) ways for government agencies to interact with both their employees and private citizens.

The social network revolutions have yet to dethrone the kings. In the Arab world, monarchies may be the most stable alternative to ruthless dictators, military juntas, or simple chaos currently available.

In Tunisia, the self-immolation of street vendor Muhammad Bouazizi, protesting harassment by local authorities, led to demonstrations that toppled the regime. In Egypt, it was photos posted online of Khaled Said, who had been beaten to death by corrupt police officers. In both cases, Facebook pages drew attention to the cases, and Twitter posts helped organize protests.

Operation ‘Safe Homecoming’, launched by the Indian Government to bring home thousands of Indian nationals stranded in conflict-torn Libya, is a success story. Every day, hundreds of Indians are flying back via the national carrier Air India and on chartered flights from Tripoli and other locations connected by air bridges in the Middle East.

Recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya have been on the minds -- and on the screens -- of people around the world. News organizations are covering the events in innovative ways, and people have noticed. More generally, the role of social media itself in protests and revolutions is also being debated

The domino-like succession of civil unrest that has rocked repressive regimes in the Middle East has been called "the Jasmine Revolution." It might better be known as "the 140-character Rebellion," after the character limits of Twitter, which gave it voice.