Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A New Low : Blocking Blogging

The idioic "leaders" of the UPA Government just cannot stop making one mistake after another.

Times of India reports:
The Department of Telecommunications in an order to all leading Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) ordered the blocking of popular Internet blogging sites. The premise for such a move was that that blogs were spewing communal hatred and some indulging in ‘anti-national acts and writings’. The order is not only absurd in its approach towards emerging changes on the web; it is in fact against the entire idea that is the Internet. The Internet, the great knowledge tool, which knows no boundaries, was envisioned as the great leveler. The ability to access any information anywhere in real-time revolutionized not only the world but helped in ‘flattening’ the world thereby giving developing nations like ours the competitive edge to showcase our talent and entrepreneurial skills. The web-log or blog was the natural extension of this phenomenon that extended its reach to the common user to put his thoughts and ideas out into the infinite space of the Internet. Blogging took off after the Iraq war in 2003 and has not looked back ever since. In fact, in the West, blogging has become the first source of news and information for many readers who are moving from the traditional media, whom they see as biased in their leanings and motives. The world of blogs really got recognition when Yahoo decided to introduce a news search that included blogs, thereby giving legitimacy to what was viewed earlier by mainstream media as armchair journalists trying to become the real thing.

Closer home, the paranoia that has set in the government in the aftermath of the criticism it received for policies like being soft on terror, foreign policy flip-flops and reservations has made it take this rather draconian step. It seems that the government instead of trying to listen to the voice of the people wants to gag it. This is not the first time that the Congress has tried to breach the freedom of speech. The Indira Gandhi government was notorious for what it did to the media during the emergency. With remnants of the ‘Young Turks’ of the time still very much present in the decision-making of this government, it is easy to see where the idea got its origins. The government fears that the communally loaded messages of some blogs are detrimental for the nation’s fragile communal harmony. While one must concede that there are a few rotten apples in every sphere, to typecast blogging, per se, as being anti national, is a bit over the top. If anything, blogging initiates healthy debate, which must be encouraged in every democracy. And if the government cannot stand the heat of what its citizens have to say, then they should do a rethink on their policies rather than go after the voice that has raised an opinion. The government has also pointed out to the banning of blogs that can cause damage to relations with other nations. The reality is that a blog is just an opinion; it does not have the power to alter the mood of a foreign nation to become hostile towards us. Rather it is politicians on both side of the divide that spread hatred towards our own citizens or other nations, a vitriolic Narendra Modi or Pravin Togadia, or a narrow minded Arjun Singh are more detrimental to this country than any blog.

The UPA with this order to gag the web and trying to alter the Broadcast Bill to make it more stringent towards the media is unnecessarily venturing into areas where it is bound to face tough resistance. This at a time when they should be more concerned about the nations’ security and the rising tensions within its own alliance. By trying to curb freedom of expression they might ultimately manage to antagonize the last remaining support for itself and thereby hasten the downfall of its very existence with out of sync policies like blocking blogging and gagging the media.



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