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Cheers to Democracy

By Abhay Gupta

You know what? I totally called it. Kapil Sibal is a tyrant. Well, fine, I can’t take credit for that. I’m sure I’m not the only one who spotted Sibal’s vendetta against internet freedom. I’m sure many of you have encountered these messages, or similar ones, when accessing your beloved torrent sites and your bookmarked porn hubs – 

“This site has been blocked as per the instructions of Competent Authority”

I can’t say I wasn’t shocked. My initial reaction was to get out of home, track down said-competent authority and ***************************. What? Don’t tell me that wasn’t your immediate reaction.

But I’m going to ease up on Sibal this time because, for all his faults, he’s not the master-criminal to this heinous act of shackling the internet. The truth is that our government, as a collective body, is in love with the idea of being a democracy without actually understanding what it really means to be a democracy is. See, their arguments for screening our content and taking down websites like Vimeo, Torrentz and any number of porn websites is that it stands to offend the sensibilities of certain religious or secular groups. Here’s a fun question. When have we, as a collective population, not succeeded in doing that, intentionally or not? Or more specifically, what on earth does our own government know about defending sensibilities? 

Let’s recap and try to remember how many of our kids couldn’t get into college because of the bill that made it mandatory for several quotas to get priority listing. We made the mistake of not having a distinct enough caste and our shiny 99 per cent marksheets were laughed away as our seat was given to some undeserving schmuck with an ‘OBC’ placard stapled to his head. Not that I have anything against OBC’s, or even have a proper idea of what injustices these poor people’s predecessors faced before I was born. It’s just that the government approached this the same way the American government tried to fight apartheid. By shifting the power balance to the wronged community instead of, you know, BALANCING it.

But I digress. As I’ve said multiple times before, the internet is a domain where people are free to express any opinion they so desire. The government’s argument is that there are various Facebook groups promoting ill-will towards secular groups, porn websites depicting religious deities and forums inciting people against political parties and this is cause of civil unrest within the nation. That’s all fine and dandy, dear government, but pause for a moment and understand that just because your carpet has a wine-stain on it doesn’t mean that the only feasible solution is to set the thing on fire. Blocking entire websites because of the stray offensive content on it is going to stir up nation-wide protests and possible riots and I’m sure I’m not the only one who sees the irony in this move. I’m also fairly confused as to why our government has a problem against piracy. I can somewhat understand America’s capitalist need for monopolizing their content, but why are we bothering? Whose sales are they going to affect? The road-side dvd-salesmen who can’t sell you their camrip knockoffs of movies because you’re perfectly content finding better quality on pirate bay?

Motive aside, another thing that’s laughable about this whole campaign is the method and approach. For starters, it is damn near IMPOSSIBLE to screen every single website and filter through potentially inflammatory material. For every one website that you shut down, twenty more have already circulated. The only end-result is that you’ve gone ahead and upset a whole number of communities who just wanted to watch a harmless cat video on Vimeo, only to find that MTNL, Reliance and other such telecommunication centers strongly disprove of your love for cat videos and probably trample kittens in their spare time. Now I hear Sibal’s been asked by Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Union health minister (yeah, I don’t know why he cares either), to assist in the formulation of the restrictions on the internet and how to go about making our lives miserable. Let’s all raise our middle fingers to these fine men in a lovingly sarcastic salute!

Before the decision to censor the internet, I found no reason why we had to march to China’s tune and give up being a democracy. Blocking Torrentz before the release of Don 2? Why? So that you can continue to hike the prices of movie tickets and make the cinematic experience that much more expensive? It’s like banning cycles or walking so that people started using more petrol. Is there a group on Facebook depicting Shiva as a pot-smoking philanderer? Well, shit, if only Facebook had an option that enabled us to REPORT IT AS OFFENSIVE. Then we wouldn’t have to turn to our mother government’s knees and cry about how our feelings got hurt! 

Honestly, there isn’t anything wrong with the system as is. If enough people report a page, it goes down. For every ten people downloading a movie, there are still three people willing to pay full price to watch it on the big screen. For every hate-page towards a political group, there’s a political group rioting and proving the hate-groups right in every possible way. And, as a final kick in the ovaries, they’re attacking porn. The one thing we ALL universally love about the internet. For all the stupid decisions the government’s made, this HAS to be the kingpin of it all.

Bravo, dear Government. We may continue to have our taxes mishandled, our education system wrecked to a bleeding mess and corruption rampant amongst our governing bodies, but you’ve reminded us that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is more important than Censorship of the internet, the media and all public opinion. Cheers to democracy!  
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Abhay Gupta
What about me? Well, I don't know really. I could be brooding and nihilistic or bouncing off walls like flubber on crack. I categorize and analyze everything because I get bored easy. I'm a tv buff, movie buff, comic fanatic, atheist and meme-literate.  And finally, cheesecake.


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