Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Pinch of Paranoia

I must be the last one to get on the bandwagon and rant about the recent ban of Blogs by DoT India, but I, at the risk of sounding holier-than-thou, believe it is my obligation to add my voice to the increasingly outraged online community. For those who live in information-free stasis (like me), several blogging sites were banned by Indian ISPs recently, including yours truly- Apparently, the Indian Department of Telecommunication was trying to block a few particular blogs (17 is what I hear) which it considered subversive as they preach “messages of religious hatred”. In an inspired burst of incompetence, Indian ISPs decided that as quite a few of the 17 sites had a common suffix, like, the entire site must be host to extremist fanatics ( of whom I am one), and blocked all access to the entire site. Well, actually they blocked the IP address, which is common for all the blogs hosted on a particular site.

A list of sites which were blocked – (fax scan unclear, could be wrong) (should probably be

The supposed letter banning the sites (I cannot vouch for its veracity) ??? You have to visit that; apparently the Indian government has deemed the insipid ranting of a bored teenage girl a threat to national security. ROFL I bet she’s never had so many hits before!

So Censorship and Incompetence, two of my favourite qualities, had resulted in this India-wide ban of blogs, which has now, thankfully, been lifted. So is India moving towards a George Orwellian Big Brother era ? India is the worlds largest democracy, and though I know many consider that to be a label with no actual meaning ( see to check out your country’s ‘freedom rating’), but as an Indian, I enjoy so much more privileges and rights than many of my neighbours. We still do have a long way to go, but which nation does'nt.

Yahoo and Google recently had a spate of bad publicity as they were reportedly bought off by China to filter out ‘anti-nationalist’ sites. I was smug at the time, thinking such censorship would never happen in India. Yet, to my dismay I see that most sites have referred to censorship in “India, Pakistan, Iran or China”. Are we proud of being one of the four countries (the elite few) which are considered by the international community to suffer Censorship? A few of the websites above now proudly wear the ‘Banned by India’ banner. If you find yourself in a similar situation, visit for the banner (as I have pasted above). The government of India has opened us up for derision and contempt, and our freedom of speech, a commodity which I value highly, is being mocked. See below post from -
Silence the Infidel .

Exclusive: Indian bureaucrats ponder whether to un-ban Opinipundit.

So is the government censorship wrong? Has the Internet, the last bastion of free speech finally fallen? I have mixed feeling about this. If a site is truly preaching fanatical religious hatred, or material seriously constituting a threat to national security, then the government may be very well justified in banning it. Or are they? Who is to determine the greater good? Is our knowledge to be doled out in palatable bite sides chunks ?

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” - Decimus Junius Juvenalis

An excerpt from - “India is a Democracy. In order to be a democracy, certain things are expected to be in place, such as freedom of the press and little, or no censorship. While one person would find it perfectly acceptable to publicize pornographic material and sexually explicit lyrics to a curious world for anybody to see, another views such an act as a negative influence on a society being destroyed by such material. When two different positions collide in Indian judicial systems, decisions must be made to serve justice.”
I leave it to you to visit the above sites and decide for yourself if our government is justified. If you are blocked from doing so, please visit In the end, we are not children, to be swayed by propaganda, and have to make our own choices – for better or worse.
Links - Site for the censored
A final note - Not being in India currently, I cannot verify the current situation for myself. Please visit the sites and learn more and post comments to let me know about the current situation. It is you, gentle reader, on whom the onus rests.

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