Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Let Me Break Some Wind Please

It is said that if a person breaks wind on social media, a whole bunch of people queue outside the loo! The medium is that viral!
The final arbiter of what is permissible on social media, the cherubic Satyawadi Kapilchandra who displayed brilliant mathematical abilities when he arrived at the famous zero sum loss, in all his wisdom has scored a self- goal. Well, allegedly his goddess was ridiculed in a cartoon which depicted her as the puppeteer. No points for guessing who the puppet was. Hence the minister in typical Inspector Clouseau clumsiness is all set to introduce new set of rules to monitor internet content. This hasty move has the whole world searching for his goddess on Facebook, to see what offends him. He of all the people should know that  if one needs to popularize something, the best way is to ban it.

There are three main questions to moot. Firstly, it is imperative to gauge the intent of the government. What has upset most netizens is the way they have  gone about it - summoning Face book officials in a clandestine manner.

Second question remains, who decides what is objectionable? For China statements from Dalai Lama could be objectionable and for Pakistan statements from the Shiv Sena. All sane netizens however, will support some sort of regulation or screening of morphed pictures which are in bad taste and unwarranted. Also, no one is denying the fact that content which offends religious sensibilities and threatens national security should be screened and monitored. I guess, it is already being done. Even in Thailand, Google restricted access to 90% of 225 You Tube videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy, which is against the Thai laws. However, in India Google mainly received requests to remove blogs and videos that were critical of ministers and government officials.

Having said that, Kapil Muni should have been upfront and said, “My leader has been insulted and slanderous content about her should be removed.” Instead, in all his sanctimonious wisdom he said, “We will not allow our cultural ethos to suffer….we have to take care of the sensibilities of the people.”  Why is the cherubic telecom angel wielding the moral danda? Wasn’t moral policing the job of the BJP? Why bring religion in the debate?

And finally, it is humanly impossible to pre-screen content coming from 2.5 million Indian users on Facebook. Ankit Fadia, the computer hacker says that there is no technology which can detect sarcasm or monitor cartoons. Also, anyone sitting in a remote island can still use the internet for dubious purposes. 

Social media is one big adda, like the erstwhile paan ki dukaan, where people air opinions and vent frustration. It is not to be taken seriously by powerful egos. Offensive comments are to be ignored. If they still persist, people can block them and report abuse. Finally the IT act of 2000 is in place for filing police complaints against the tormentor. Any complaint under the  act should be  strictly dealt with. It will act as a deterrent for anonymous abuse and hate groups. Here is another thing about internet; it is a hydra headed monster. You cut one of its arms; it grows another. So it is imperative to learn to manage it.  To your advantage. If you suppress it, it emerges with double the vengeance.

It was Obama who said that suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. Yet I feel ‘freedom’ is so much easier to preach than practice. Obama learnt it the hard way, after the Wiki leaks episode.So my humble request to the venerable minister is to allow me to break some wind on my status and blog. It is cathartic. It cures flatulence brewing against corruption and mis-governance. In fact he should try it. Achha lagega. 

 (I hope the Dabang minister does not say , " Hum tumahare mein itne ched kar denge......)
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  1. Alka,

    You are fun to read......

    It is possible to scan and block some parts but people will find ways to publish.

    Agree definition of objectionable changes.

    Also I agree media is not completely free but on the same time I don't believe Wikileaks people had noble aim either..I am not 100% sure.

  2. A good perspective on the reach and stature of online world.

  3. Hm.. Well said Alka. After Wall street fiasco and Arab spring governments are getting afraid of social media.

  4. @A, Deepak, Abha , Harish...

    It is a complex issue and needs debate and deliberation not abrupt control on opinions. Offensive content, (again a matter of judgment) should be removed by the FB and Google themselves.

  5. Alka,

    I never expected this from him. He is an experienced lawyer and I am sure he knows laws to take action against those who do any unwanted acts on internet are very much in place and also such incidents when brought to notice of service provider can always be removed. Or he wishes to enjoy and laugh at cartoons depicting LK, Laloo or the likes.

    Take care

  6. You write extremely well in impeccable English and forcefully too.
    The matter is being discussed widely.It is not that the minister's point of view is devoid of merit.There cannot be unbridled freedom to ridicule to limits of indecency in the name of freedom.How and in what manner it can be regulated without curtailing freedom of expression is what needs to be decided.Hopefully some agreement would be reached though the extent and reach of net is too big to manage.

  7. @Mr Parthasarathi...Welcome here.

    Thank you. I agree that it is a complex issue which needs debate and deliberation but it is important to be honest about the intentions.
    I hope the knee jerk reaction is not because some egos have been bruised.

  8. I wish he hadn't used God as an excuse to protect his Goddess!

  9. ha ha ha

    on serious note I was hearing Sibal and another guy talking of banning FB - google etc I mean what i that .. they to oafraid there truth will be out in the open .. isn't this what TALIBAN did in Afghanistan.

    If i start talking about what he had said I will g oon a tangent so I will just shut up and I hope the People of our nation WAKE especially that CHAMCHA's of these politcians..


  10. Such statements made by persons from those lofty citadels make them a laughing stock with their understanding of technology and the way it can rein people! Alka, you hit the nail hard on the nut!

  11. Nautanki kar rahe hain KS saahab :)) He just wanted to make an issue of something- has been some time when he hit the newspapers. So here it is !

    I don't know if he reads newspapers or not but maybe he missed out articles on Arab Spring. The way Social media played a major role in bringing down decades old governments. And he says that he wants to tame that in a country which has a tradition of rising to the occasion ? Wow !

    However, I like what Harsha Bhogle said on Twitter-"far too many people on social media hide behind pseudonyms to make inflammatory statements. freedom doesn't mean that". But we are a young nation and even more young as far as coming up in digital horizon is concerned. There are bound to be some initial aberrations. Calling that offence and locking us in jail is just not the way forward !

    Loved the way you approached the topic in strategic manner, pointwise that is. Thank you for such a lovely post !

  12. @Purba...Killer one liner!


    @Rahul...One tweet by Jhunjhunwala said that this is what happens when we have a lawyer as our IT minister. It is like casting Mayawati for an item number.

  13. @sritatsat...
    True, I am surprised why they cant feel the pulse of the nation. I am sure they expected such a huge uproar. Also how many people can u jail? They have to learn to use the internet to their advantage. They lack communication skills...so even when they are doing some good, they handle it so clumsily that people start doubting their intentions.

    But they sure are vindictive, look at Bhushan CD...who doctored them? Who instructed?

    Am glad u liked it.

  14. Perfect punches with language to match. But Kapil wears a skin thicker than rhinos. Trust me, he will remain unfazed even if you were to break the wind right in his face.
    What bother me, however, is the wind that he is breaking as an extension of the Government which is again, an extension of Madam, which brings me to the three questions you raised.
    I wish to offer an answer only to the first one as you have amply answered the rest of them yourselves. Barring a minuscule percentage who could truly lay claim to literacy or riches or both, India has had consisted of mostly simple, credulous rabble till recent times. But the advent and spread of the Internet has overturned the way information can be accessed and used. True, it is somewhat like the "paan ki dukan" where you give vent to your feelings and that would be the end of that. But then you are forgetting Tahrir Square which neither Kapil Muni nor the Govt of India (meaning Madam) can be unmindful of. But I must stop my rant now. After all, it is just a comment and hey, what a post!

  15. We need an e-Anna who can take on this e-drama of our Govt.

  16. Irrespective of who said what on the matter in whatever context, I would just like to share my own views regarding the use/misuse of the internet, the freedom of free speech and the validity of any probable controls on them.

    Though harmless and funny jokes and cartoons on political leaders have been around from a long time, I don’t think that should be an issue to spark off such a debate. It would be rather attributed to some big egos of specific individuals if they consider it objectionable.

    But, apart from that, there was something which made me ponder about the possible negatives of the freedom of free speech after hearing this debate. A few months back, I came across a Youtube video of an adolescent sadhvi spewing venom on our neighbors across the border in some public discourse. The ‘suggested videos’ on the right panel included a video where an old cleric from across the border was shown spewing similar venom on India.

    Both the videos resulted in hundreds of comments from people from both sides of the border. Objectionable would be a really light word to describe most of those comments. A sane person would feel nauseated for days after going through a single page of comments. I didn’t press the dislike button on either of the videos, but instead reported it to the Youtube authorities. But to my dismay, there were about a dozen different copies of the same videos posted by different users.

    My point is that, for me, I just shut down the browser instead of giving a second more to any such trash. But what if one similar guy across the border, after watching the content and reading the comments, develops intense emotions and decides to go to war ? It can happen anywhere and anytime.

    We live in highly intolerant times. Though in one of your previous posts, you correctly mentioned that we are highly tolerant to things like pot-holed roads, lack of electricity, price rises, corruption, etc. But we are still extremely intolerant to the slightest opinion about religion. And also, there are people who are intolerant to political opinions because they are being paid for their intolerance.

    I agree it is almost impossible to monitor content that is uploaded on the internet. But looking at the levels of intolerance about some topics, which may and often does result in public disorder, it would have been better if at least inflammatory content could be checked. Though it is true that something objectionable to someone may appear funny to another. But looking at the presence of elements in our society who just wait to run riot at the slightest hint of probable objectionable material, it would have been better if such content could be monitored.

    It is not just about being a tolerant and sensible society, but about having those anti-social elements amongst us who either take pleasure in creating mischief by producing objectionable content or wait to create havoc in response to some content.

    But as far as jokes and cartoons on individuals go, they should be taken in humor and good spirits. Blocking the entire media in anticipation of that is not only impractical but also incorrect.

    And before you shoot me for such a long comment, I should better end it here with my sincere apologies. :P :D

  17. @Jack..Thanks.
    @Mayank....But Anna too is slipping from the high moral pedestal...

    @UmaShankar...I am always conscious about my grammar because 'English' was not my subject after class twelve.Coming from you I feel a bit more confident. You are right but it is a complex issue with polarized views. What Shobit says also makes sense.....

  18. Social media is actually stirring up quite a storm. It has a wide reach, no wonder the government is trembling.

  19. @Shobit....
    A long comment simply means that you gave some weightage to what I wrote. You can have a different point of view.We all can agree to disagree.That is the whole idea about writing a blog post.
    Let me at the outset say, that inflammatory content needs to be monitored. But I was not aware that even after you reported abuse, the video could not be banned.Sad. As I said, it is a monster...you cut one head, another appears.
    What upset the netizens is the manner in which the minister went about it. If they are using religion to control and suppress criticism, it is simply not done.
    Internet is a new medium and after such debates, we will come up with some ways which will curb objectionable content and yet allow discourse and criticism.
    It was a pleasure to read your comment.

  20. Point well made, Alka! Yes, who is Kapil to wield the moral danda? Unless moral responsibility comes on own among netizens, no rule and no law can enforce law- see for example US and Egypt. It would be better if Netas keep to their dirty politics and leave us netizens alone. A BIG YAYYYYYY TO FB!!!

  21. Ideally regulation should happen in our head...but it never happens. Because sensiblity doesnt necessarily come with education

  22. no comments on mr singh and mr sibal as an individual, but as a policy maker, i will defend my right to BOOOOOO untill death \m/

  23. hi
    Alka.. the topic you picked up is very current...But if taken in a serious manner unbiased then...
    I dont how this law can be enforced ...But one thing is there ...the amount of abusive language used and dirt shown on net ...obnoxious lingo and then morphed pictures on politicians very offensive..
    There is no respect for anyone on Net,,, PM sitting with sonia gandhi on bike and song being sung,,, Gandhi as Dude smoking.. with piercings.. vijay mallya kissing ambani wife..
    Do you think its right??
    ..is it the opposition party doin? those anonymous comments if you read ...it shows filthy minds ..
    You tube full of dirt! Face book has all cheap pictures..circulated purposely to offend women...
    .......... can we see all this ..even accidentally??
    is there a way to stop this and get this filtered before coming on net?
    I feel it should be filtered at-least!!!

  24. Offensve images and content like the ones quoted by Harman are indeed noxious and should be banned. But first it was argued that these forums should not have any offensive content against his goddess and the PM but then after seeing the uproar, it was suitably modified to religious sentiments. And look who all are supporting, none less than BD, Omar and the likes! Wonder if we are in a democracy or are a banana republic. Since it is so hard to monitor the internet, the next best thing is to ban social media. Be warned the day is not far off.

  25. You're right, it's one big adda! And as with all addas, two things are pre-requisites: garam chai and even more garam hawa :) For those who don't like what is being aired in one adda, they can set up shop in another. Simple.

  26. Well, Kapil Sibal is an egoist and an idiot. He is trying to sugarcoat his hare-brained initiative by invoking religion. Really very desperate! We all know what sycophancy can lead to. There might be offensive content out there on the net, but if we let them decide what is offensive then we can be sure that it will be censorship of the worst kind. It is a desperate attempt by an unpopular government to stifle public opinion.

  27. @Rachna C...True.

    @Cloudnine...some groups like 'I hate congress' have already been removed. Though hate groups are undesirable, Banning always evokes interest..

    @Jon...you are bang on. Makes sense.

  28. @Harman, Zephyr
    ...You are right. As I said in the post that some morphed pictures are in bad taste and should be removed asap. Because today they belong to others, tomorrow they could be yours or mine. However groups and communities which criticize policies and governance should not be policed.Some groups have already been removed.

  29. @Manpreet, Rachna Parmar..

    ...welcome here Manpreet. You are right.

    Rachna if it is a desperate attempt by the government to stifle public opinion, it deserves the outrage. But if it is about morphed pics and inflammatory comments then filtering is a good idea.

  30. Ankit Fadia stole that thought from @GabbbarSingh
    Prescreening is like taking away the right to expression. Objectionable contents can be removed by reporting the post to the respective social network. A different law is to conceal the raging part of social media in politics.
    According to Kapil Sibal, it is NOT okay to make fun of politicos but it IS okay to announce a zero loss theory to cover up some thousand crores. Whatay twerp.

  31. Sibal is just being silly.
    He is OK withporn star in Big Boss.He is OK with Hussain's offensive paintings on net,He is OK with Sonia dressed up as Godess DUrga.
    One offensive poster/cartoon of Sonia has created such a storm.
    Let them try

  32. You create such powerful allegories-i shared both these amazing quotes on twitter that was going anyways mad with Kapil and his antics...

    "It is said that if a person breaks wind on social media, a whole bunch of people queue outside the loo! The medium is that viral!"

    "Social media is one big adda, like the erstwhile paan ki dukaan, where people air opinions and vent frustration. It is not to be taken seriously by powerful egos"
    (applause madam)

    you should be on twitter.your punches would circulate more than Sunny Leone's and Anna's:

  33. very good post yar...yep...u can folo suruchi's suggestion..cheers

  34. @Prateek..:)True.

    @BKC...Sir, you are so right..misplaced priorities.

    @Suru...Ha, ha...The first one is not mine...I read it somewhere...but too much blogging and Fbooking is making me insane(I locked myself out yesterday, forgot the keys)If i start tweeting also there are chances of me being ostracized from the family...

  35. @R Ramesh....Thanks dude.Appreciate your spending time here..
    As for Suru..she is a sweetheart...always encouraging.

  36. The man asked FB to pre-screen his minister's photographs! Mark's own photographs have been leaked due to a security flaw in the website, how on earth can they help Kapil Sibal?

    I pity such people too who promote rather nasty cartoons, but then, each her own!

  37. Always a delight to read! :D
    The government is going nuts....

  38. It was well planned n creative of Sibal to divert the mind of netizens from their flaws to this.... n I guess such acts doesn't come as a surprise to me when u make a Lawyer a telecom minister :P