Reality Check India

Rally behind Rashmi Bansal

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 12, 2006

Screeecchhhh !! I can sense most readers going, “Thats it – no more Reality Check for me.  This site has just entered the league of those blindly rallying behind some XYZ blogger“.

First the news. In a nutshell, it appears  popular blogger Rashmi Bansal (Youth Curry)  is being hounded for publishing an ad for World AIDS day. It seems this ad has offended some people. I dont know what the ad is. She has issued an unconditional apology on the JAM website. In my opinion, that ought to be enough. If the aggreived party wants monetary damages, it can approach the courts for relief. Let us hope better sense prevails on the Mumbai police, surely they have bigger fish to catch.

Reality Check wishes Rashmi Bansal good luck to come out of this mess.

So most of you are going, “Yeah, whats new – this is part and parcel of running a business in India, isnt it ?” This is not even related to her blog, so why bother. Why should everything become a “blogger” issue ?

Here is why :

I suspect most bloggers in India know they have a good thing going for them. They are able to express themselves in ways that was unthinkable in the past. I remember my grandfather writing scores of letters to newspapers in an effort to get his views across. Once every 30 letters, a outrageously edited version would show up and we would go “Yay!”.

I also suspect most bloggers in India are deeply apprehensive about whether their newfound medium and associated freedom is going to last.  These apprehensions have been strengthened by the July 06 ban on all of blogger and blogspot.  The Indian government apparatus is not setup to handle this type of medium.  Every action, statement, and policy is now being discussed in an open manner like never before. From the politicians viewpoint – it is not supposed to be like this. Make no mistake, it is not a question of this or that party, they know how to close ranks when it matters.

Most importantly – bloggers have dominated the google search results on many policy issues.  It is only growing stronger.

Remember the 18 sites that were banned in July 06 ? It seems the GOI is working behind the scenes to put in place advanced screening routers in landing points to get more control over bloggers. Vendors like Cisco have such advanced routers that can filter hundreds of thousands of sites. It even has the ability to filter individual pages (allow http://abcd.com but block http://abcd.com/badpage ). Read this article in Yale Global for a look at how this type of equipment help the Chinese government.

The GOI has already working to install such advanced routers (which have been mainly sold to countries like China and Saudi Arabia) at the main landing points in the country. 

NEW DELHI: Errant websites won’t be able to escape this net. The Centre is putting in place an advance screening system at the bandwidth landing stations to block individual websites and blogs perceived as threats to national security.

The technology to be put in place at the eight landing stations — which bring international bandwidth into the country — will be capable of blocking websites at a sub-domain level, thus saving internet service providers (ISPs) from a sweeping shutdown. “GoI has realised that the most effective way to keep out such sites is through URL-based blocking solutions installed at international gateways,” a highly-placed source told ET.

Full story here and here

Bloggers like Rashmi and Shivam did come out and openly fight the ban. We may disagree with them on various issues, but nothing is of greater importance to us than this medium.  We should first secure this medium, and then indulge in our little fights over large and small matters. Just like the politicians of all hues close ranks when their interests are under threat, the blogging community too should close ranks.

Rashmi was one of those who came out on national TV and denounced the ban. To us, that is enough to extend support to her, even though this case is not directly related to blogs.

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9 Responses

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  1. Barbarindian said, on December 12, 2006 at 5:22 am

    Where is the Ad? You got me totally curious now.

    It is easy to see why Rashmi is being hounded. I am willing to believe her open criticisms against the reservation issue and her battle against IIPM has something to do with it.

  2. rc said, on December 12, 2006 at 5:52 am

    Barb

    I doubt there is a conspiracy (for her views on quotas or IIPM). It is just how the system works here. This is standard stuff. This is one of the reasons the legal system is overloaded. Remember the founder of Baazee’s (Avnish Bajaj) arrest ?

    The IIPM founder is all over national news channels here. He smells an opportunity here for private players in the B-schools and he will go for the kill. This guy can talk !

  3. Sharan Sharma said, on December 14, 2006 at 1:54 am

    just for fun : see who was one of the panelists in this meet a few months back.

    Also check this comment at Rashmi’s blog – someone claiming to be from iipm…second para, last line…

    no comments.

  4. Barbarindian said, on December 14, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    This is gonna happen. You see Sharan, socialism is like gun control. Bad guys will always have guns.

    If you mire businesses with regulations and various socialistic schemes (which are difficult if not downright impossible to quantify), what ends up happening is that the unscrupulous will game it and make money. On RC’s blog, a new entrepreneur claimed he employed backwards and was happy. You see where things are going?

  5. Vikram said, on December 15, 2006 at 8:58 am

    Show the ad first. You can find the ad here

  6. rc said, on December 15, 2006 at 9:08 am

    Vikram –

    Thanks – that is disgusting indeed !! There better be a good excuse for that getting past the editorial process.

    I mentioned in the post that I fear the goverment is going to tightly control the blogging medium using these high-end routers. I do not condone or support her magazine. You are well within your rights to call for people to boycott this mag.

    I was probably being selfish with this post. She fought for bloggers on TV and that is the only reason I support her. We are going to see a repeat of this very soon, when these routers are put in place for filtering content the government cant stomach.

  7. Barbarindian said, on December 15, 2006 at 4:22 pm

    RC,

    Do you have any details on the arrest warrant? What was the specific charges and who brought them?

    My initial thought was that Rashmi was a victim of a Dalit political faction and Cong groups with a vendetta against anyone critical of UPA policies. But from the link it appears that the complainant may have been Hindu religious groups.

    Personally, I think the law is preposterous. Where do you draw the line?

  8. Sharan Sharma said, on December 16, 2006 at 12:22 am

    barb,
    from what i know through some (solid) sources, it was a plain mistake…and the apology on JAM’s website was a genuine one…basically someone got too creative and it slipped past…what i appreciate is that the mistake was acknowledged and action taken immediately (like withdrawing copies)…what i dislike is unconnected folks like (ahem, ahem) wanting to take advantage…and in the name of dailts…

  9. Vikram said, on December 16, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    rc,

    It is a shameless marketing stunt, IMO. Why connect this to the issue of GoI banning sites? We can bypass the GoI ban easily using proxies etc.


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