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India Turning Chinese

December 7, 2011

India really wants to be like China. We want to have a high rate of GDP growth, promises of a rich future and the same kind of control over its citizens.

Unfortunately, the government seems to believe that the way to achieve this is through muzzling its citizens. The government definitely has a cause for concern. After years of unquestioned authority, which allowed them to siphon millions of public funds, now there is an attempt to create a transparent administration.

In the past couple of years, even as India’s portfolio and visibility has grown abroad, the number of scams unearthed have risen as well. The Commonwealth Games, the 2G scam, the mining issues in Karnataka (relevant to me as I’m from the state), Mayawati’s numerous statues and tantrums, the Radia fiasco, Wikileaks cables putting the icing on the rest. And these are only a few.

The cherry on top of the icing was that the middle class – the common man and the biggest junta – was not willing to stand up for this any longer. We were tired of paying bribes at every counter, long waiting periods for simple tasks and worse. We wanted more powers and punishment for the guilty.

In a surprising brainwave, the powers-that-are realised that much of this is driven by social networking. Social networking has made the world a smaller place. Even if you don’t know someone, you know someone who knows someone. And that far-off someone is well educated about what is happening… and gets you interested.

So the government figures to muzzle this social network – the freedom of speech – a fundamental right.

I believe in responsible journalism. I believe that sometimes we are better off not publicizing information that might jeopardize the safety of the country and such. Like every growing civilization and corporates, we get a little too ambitious on this front and sensationalize news.

What we really need is to regulate the media through an independent body. Once the media does its job, we’ll hopefully have a better government. Now, the media themselves are being watched by people who are better informed.

People on Facebook might while away time playing Farmville or its latest replica, but they also spend hours on a site that allows free sharing of information. Tweets from politicians and others get the message across instantly. And THAT presents danger currently to the government who’d rather than we go back to ignorant times when we would blindly believe that the budget for something stretched into hundreds of crores. After all, how would we know what is the labor cost and material cost and overheads. How would we know about running a business?

This attempt to muzzle the country is not really new. It had happened when another Gandhi was in the Parliament. When she sensed a threat to her power, she declared an emergency. In the current situation, the government obviously cannot do that without facing the ire of too many people.

So their next best option is to try to censor the internet. They want to know what you are writing, who you are writing to and why.

But these archaic leaders might not be aware what the internet is all about really. Even in China, people find a way to air their views. In a tech-oriented country like India, how long will it be before some guy finds a way to route around the censorship? And in any case, trying to censor the internet is like closing your eyes and believing no one can see you.

India is not the best country in the world. There are Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Atheists all around the world and they are all insulted by something online. Every politician in this world is probably being made fun of right now. Trying to remove all that content is like trying to clean up Dharavi, Mumbai.

The people proposing these laws should understand the difference between defamation and humorous content, and of course, the truth.

***

Just on another note, what the hell is with all the moral censorship again? All that stuff about ‘this is not our culture’?

Women didn’t wear blouses in India not too long ago. Women were priests, held posts and kicked ass not too long ago. We have female Gods, for heaven’s sake! Probably the only culture to have so many female Gods. And we have corrupt female politicians. We are superbly balanced. Screw moral balancing!

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