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What reception will India give new Rusdhie film?

The film of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children is set to be released on 1 February. If the team behind the movie adaptation is at all nervous about screening the film they have good reason. Rushdie, who wrote the screenplay, and has been the literary face for freedom of expression for years, has a tumultuous history of censorship […]

Fatwa calls for ban on female receptionists

A recent fatwa issued by a leading Indian Islamic seminary advises women to refrain from working as receptionists, describing the job as un-Islamic and against Sharia law. The influential Darul Uloom Deoband offered the ruling in response to a question posed by a Pakistan-based company on 29 November on the seminary’s website, and states that […]

Worried about girls marrying for love? Just ban them from using mobile phones

A village council in Northern India last week banned women from using mobile phones. The leaders of Sunderbari village, population 8000, hope that fining unmarried women (Rs 10,000, or 114 GBP) and married women (Rs 2000, or 23 GBP) will stop premarital and extramarital affairs. The men’s logic is simple: these affairs that have led to elopements […]

India and social media: When will it be safe for the average citizen to critique the powerful?

Last week, in the small town of Palghar, Maharastra, a 21-year-old  was arrested for a Facebook post questioning a citywide shutdown to mark the death of a regional leader. Her friend was arrested for ‘liking’ her status. The two women, Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan, faced charges under the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008. The […]

Why are India’s politicians scared of social media?

A war over free expression between Indian citizens and their government is raging, with social media serving as the battlefield. Two girls were arrested in Mumbai today, one for having updated her Facebook status asking why the city was observing a bandh — a city-wide shut down — to commemorate the death of an influential regional leader, […]

India changes its internet governance position — backs away from UN proposal

Following outrage from India’s civil society and media, it appears the country’s government has backed away from its proposal to create a UN body to govern the internet. The controversial plan, which was made without consulting civil society, angered local stakeholders, including academics, media, and industry associations. Civil society expressed fear that a 50-member UN body, many of […]

Sedition laws: India’s colonial-era threat to free expression

Aseem Trivedi’s arrest for his anti-establishment cartoons shocked and outraged India. Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code, under which Trivedi was arrested, is reserved for anyone who “brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government,” with disaffection meaning “disloyalty and all feelings of enmity”. […]

India discusses proposals to regulate the internet

The Indian government’s proposal to the United Nations General Assembly, to form a 50-member United Nations Committee on Internet Related Policies (CIRP) to “regulate” the internet has been met with controversy since it was tabled last October. On 19 September, one of India’s leading industry bodies, the Federation of Indian Chambers and Commerce Industry, FICCI, […]

India’s telecoms revolution must be extended to all

Across the world, debates around freedom of expression have intensified, in part due to people’s increased participation because of the many avenues communication available today. Confidence seems to follow connectivity. But think of the people who remain disconnected — excluded from national and international discourse — because of the lack of wires and signals. As […]