Thursday, July 20, 2006

Update on India's Blocked Blogs

Decent governments don’t go to war against their people—that’s fundamental. Nor do they try to deprive them of legal livelihoods. Yet that appears to be precisely what the Government of India has done. As of today, most of the world’s blogs remain blocked in India and a great deal more information has surfaced.

If you like US History, you will remember that once upon a time President Richard Nixon had a famous enemies list. The fact that he had an official list is one of the reasons that an entire nation came to believe that he was crazier than a coot. But Richard Nixon had quality enemies, rich and powerful people capable of causing him real trouble.

Not so with India. After the howl heard round the world when Indians realized that their blogs had gone missing, India’s blog-enemies list finally appeared--17 blogs that were the original targets of Government censorship. Take a look: the list is sad. The leadership of “world’s largest democracy,” a government with more than one billion citizens, is surely suffering from extreme lack of self esteem.

As a pundit said: “You aren’t anybody until you have enemies,” and there is some truth to that. But seriously, who are India’s enemies? A few Indian based websites with a political agenda, and surprisingly enough some American bloggers who use the Internet to push relentlessly God, Mom, Apple Pie, George Bush, and what might best be termed “solid Baptist values.” Seriously.

As one of the banned blogs put it
India is said to be a secular state with aspirations of greatness. Its actions today show that it is neither completely secular nor ready for its proper place on the world stage.
There are manyIndians working hard to defeat this censorship and their messages are freely available. It should be noted that in their spirited exchanges not one of them has suggested writing or calling their representatives in Parliament to complain.

The government directive ordering the block from the Assistant Director General of the Information ministry reads “It has been decided to block . . .” No due process, no hearing, and worst of all no advance notice that the blogosphere was about to be taken off India’s map. Even Pakistani bloggers, who remain unable to view most blogs in their own country, were presented with a Supreme Court Order when the blogs disappeared before their eyes.

While the pdf of the Indian directive has the appearance to have been spirited off someone’s desk, librally doused with white-out and photocopied several times, the Assistant Director who signed it has his telephone number prominently displayed.

I hope his phone is ringing off the hook.

Update: With blogger furor raging, the Indian Government has taken steps to require the internet service providers to block ONLY certain websites. Click here.

Update 2 - July 29,2006: Apathy has set in. The India blog blocking remains--sort of. The government says they will solve the problem and that seems good enough for most bloggers. Some service provides have unblocked the blogs, either totally or partially, some service providers have changed nothing. There is no shortage of technical solutions to defeat the block, and no one seems to realize or care much that the block is at least partially in place, with the exception of this impassioned writer.

5 Comments:

Blogger Balaji said...

Hello,

Good news. The Indian government has decided to remove the ban. Hopefully everyone will be able to see the banned blogs soon.

It is good to have democracy.

Balaji

Jul 20, 2006, 1:13:00 PM  
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