Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mumbai blasts leading to censorship

The real tragedy about the Indian government blocking blogspot.com is the lack of interest one sees in the freedom of speech. We see media commentators saying "most blogs aren't saying unpleasant things about India; it is a heavy handed response". I think this is a tragic mistake. Freedom of speech is about all speech, not the speech that is supportive of the Indian State. The essence of being a democracy is supporting the expression of all points of view in a competitive marketplace of ideas. When the State gets into judging whether Salman Rushdie or porn or some cartoons are fit for consumption by citizens, we have lost something fundamental about freedom of speech.

We say that India has a better political system than China, but episodes like this remind us about how little genuine support for the liberal dream is found in India. China is openly authoritarian, but they are careful to have content-based filtering so that most posts on most blogs work. The "national security" apparatus in India is stupid enough to think that all sites on blogspot.com are worthy of being banned.

To generalise beyond the immediate discussion about blogs, I have been disappointed about the double standards that are used in India on freedom of speech. I think that when it comes to the print media, we are okay: it is easy to start a newspaper, the government does not own the monopoly printing press, and there is no censorship. The only weak link in our framework is the rules that limit FDI. But when it comes to radio or TV, suddenly we become like a socialist country, and all thoughts of freedom of speech are thrown out of the window.

For future reference, file away this URL: http://www.kproxy.com - you just paste in any URL there and you get it, bypassing a government (as long as the government doesn't kill kproxy itself).

1 comment:

  1. Check out how the Mumbai Massacre is playing out for a local Indian Family which has a relative still stuck in The Taj Hotel. Log on to http://www.sikhcommunitycenter.org.

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