In the year 2012, two documentaries simultaneously went viral in China and India. In China a documentary on pollution and environment by a Chinese journalist called ‘Under the Dome’ received two hundred million views within 48 hours. On March 4, ‘India’s Daughter’, a documentary on the Nirbhaya rape incident shook the country and proceeded to dominate national media. These two documented and exposed harsh realities that these countries have been grappling with for years. The issue of pollution in China and the issue of male brutality and violence against women in India. The Communist Party of China and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in India deemed that banning internet access and distribution of the documentary was in their best interest. In doing so, India’s mandate for online censorship is starting to look more like China’s.
India is no stranger to banning art films or books. It has been done routinely under the context of religion and indecency instead of having an honest discussion about the grave issues. The intention behind the ban was to counter international embarrassment, loss of tourism and loss of face. The Indian Minister Rajnath Singh, declared it to be a conspiracy to defame India. The government of India chose charges like a huge public outcry, serious law and order issue and violation of permission to film inside Tihar Jail to brush it off. These are exactly identical to the charges that the Communist party of China regularly levies on activists, books or any information. However India has hobbled with its own lack of human and cyber infrastructure and is not able to execute efficient blocking of content.
Unlike China, India is a democracy with a far more open internet, users using international platforms like Facebook and YouTube. It is disappointing that two of Asia’s leading countries choose to block access to content that informs and educate their public on major national issues.
The IT Acts control most aspects of internet censorship in India. It began around the end of Kargil wars when the government tried to ban access to Pakistan newspaper, ‘Dawn’. Subsequently, the information technology act was passed in 2000, criminalising a range of cyber activities including hacking and publication of obscene material online. It was followed by the IT Amendment Act of 2008 and Information Technology rules in 2011. It is very easy to be prosecuted or censored in India since most laws can be easily manipulated and fit into convenient narratives. The Central bureau of Film Certification and the Press Council of India practise censorship in direct or indirect ways.
The process and methodology used for censoring the media is quite similar in both the countries however the censoring of content is exponentially higher in China than India. Any sort of criticism regarding the heads of China or about the rampant corruption in the system is not accepted and is immediately censored. The reason behind the disparity between the censorship policies in both countries lies in the doctrine of separation of powers. In India the legislature judiciary and executive or three separate units each with their own realm of powers and functions. The system of checks and balances also prevents the arbitrary use of power by any organ. Such a system is not seen in the Chinese constitution and leaves no scope for exercise of freedom.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge