Category : India

The big issues for Indian web users

Some of India’s most prominant internet writers, researchers and policy analysts came together in Bangalore on 9 April to discuss “Strengthening Freedom of Expression on the Internet in India”, organised by the Internet Democracy Project. The subject has been intermittently making headlines in India, with a number of politically motivated arrests made under the Information Technology Act’s controversial Section 66a. Causing more confusion, in 2011, the Minister for Communications & Information Technology, Kapil Sibal, made headlines by asking social media intermediaries to take down “objectionable” content. At the time, the content in question seemed to be mainly objectionable to to the government itself. The content in question seemed to be mainly objectionable to the government alone. This caused a huge public uproar, [...]

Will new plans for a digital rural India hit or miss?

Since the internet was introduced  in 1995 in India’s major cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkatta, it has steadly grown in urban areas. By 1998, India has its first Internet Service Provider, Sify (later sold for $155 million). By 2001, India has its first crime branch. By 2005, the country had over 200,000 internet cafes. Facebook arrived in 2006, and in 2009, the government drafted policy on Indian language internet domain names. As individuals in cities stock up on phones, laptops and tablets, accessing free wifi at more and more public places, the question of digital access in rural India still remains. Over the last decade, The National e-Governance Plan sought to bridge this gap by establishing a Common Service Center in [...]

How India censored one of its own websites

India’s University Grants Commission (UGC), amongst its other responsibilities, determines and maintains the standards of institutions of higher education in India. As a part of this duty, it had warned students that an institution called IIPM (Indian Institute of Planning and Management) is not a recognised university and does not have the right to issue certificates. The message on the commission’s website has now been blocked, following an interim court order by the Gwalior High Court in relation to a case filed by one of the companies owned by IIPM’s head — Arindam Chaudhuri — seeking to block defamatory content against his institution. The UGC site is not the only website affected by the order. On 15 February, the Department of [...]

India’s flourishing offence industry hits literary festival – again

A few days before the now-famous (and perhaps infamous) Japiur Literature festival, the only thing most people thought they knew was that Salman Rushdie’s potential visit was being blocked, this time by elements of the Indian People’s Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist group. William Darampyle, author and organiser of the festival, […]

Internet freedom in India – open to debate

alt informationIn the aftermath of an Index on Censorship debate New Delhi, Kirsty Hughes says India's web users are standing at a crossroads

What is Bollywood’s role in changing Indian attitudes to women?

Could greater control over Bollywood help reverse a culture of female objectification in India? No, argues Mahima Kaul, but the roles of women in Bollywood films could still do with a makeover

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, […]