Category : India
Free speech in India? Not in 2012
From journalists murdered for chasing stories of illegal mining to exploding packages delivered to newspaper offices, India battled with a range of free expression and censorship issues in 2012, a report released this week by media watchdog The Hoot shows. Harassment in the form of stone-throwing, physical assault and even bullets was meted out to journalists exposing […]
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’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 […]
India’s face-off with internet freedom
Although only 10 per cent of India’s population is online, a divisive national debate over internet freedom has implications for the country’s economic and political growth. In December 2011 journalist Vinay Rai filed a complaint under sections 200 and 156(3) of India’s Criminal Procedure Code against Google and Facebook (among others) for hosting “objectionable content”. The content, according […]