Modi government is eradicating the fundamental rights of the Indian citizens to their full potential. Protests and agitation movements have become a common sight in India as the ‘new India’ is intolerant, but the new rules made by the government are turning the country into a China-like situation. China is considered to be the world’s strictest country, wherein the citizens have to follow several laws that are inhumane. All electronic communication is tracked by the government in China, so forget about privacy there! Some of the bizarre contrivances that are banned in China include violent video games, fireworks, public protests, celebrities, and even social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat! The NCP, the National People’s Congress, is responsible for making these authoritarian laws, and if someone decides to break these laws, then God save them! The person breaking the law is subjected to prosecution under the Chinese legal system and if convicted, then several years in imprisonment.
Why am I telling you all this? Primarily because the Modi government is turning India into a similar situation. Daily we come across news and articles that demonstrate the authoritarian laws formed by the government. A very recent addition to this is the new IT rule set up by the government which breaches the free speech and privacy of Indian citizens. The Indian government has asked the chat-messenger platform Whatsapp to remove its end-to-end encryption policy from its platform. The end-to-end encryption features ensure that any message exchanged between the sender and reciever/s can only be decrypted from them. No other third person can get access to it. But the Indian government has asked the platform to remove the feature to ensure that no “unlawful” exchange of message occurs on it. This rule will put the journalists and media person handling any sensitive information for the investigation under risk, and primarily the citizens of India. Can the citizen of this country no longer be able to express their opinions freely? Does expressing their views will always lead to FIR being lodged against them? Can’t the two people chat freely, with ensured privacy on the platform? And last but not the least, is this is the end of liberal democracy?
Unraveling democracy under the Modi government
Does our PM Modi believe in democracy? Certainly not. India’s democracy has fallen to an overall score of democracy from 6.9 to 6.61 in the index, which implies India is now at 53rd position at the democracy index of 2020. This fact isn’t shocking, as the new rules and regulations formed by the Modi government have become normal to us now. When there were rumors of the Instagram ban the previous week, nobody was quite shocked, in fact, they were finding other alternatives of social media platforms! This is the saddening situation of our country, where the Modi government with its full potential trying to deteriorate the fundamental rights of its citizens. When the country was excruciating with the deadly second wave of COVID-19, the Modi government disappeared. Disappeared to nowhere, became indolent, did not care to hear the crying families who lost their loved ones to the pernicious virus. But suddenly, the same government has become proactive, becoming much concerned about its image rather than working on its ‘failed’ management response.
In 2021, more than 3 international organizations have come up with an Indian democracy index, indicating the downfall in the democracy index. His rule undermined democracy, but when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted his concerns and said India was no longer a democracy, he was accused of ‘bias’ with the reports. It’s confusing. People should go through the content of these reports to know how democracy in India is undermined by ‘strong’ leadership. It can be very important because we will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of India’s independence only five months later. With the new reforms being formed like the IT rule for social media, deterioration in the freedom of media, journalism, movies, etc., it is evident that the Indian liberal democracy is in danger. Similarly, the people who criticize the government regarding any issue or their mismanagement get arrested, or FIRs are lodged against them.
The unbending IT rules
Modi’s government’s threats to ban international communications applications for not complying with the new local guidelines are hurting the country as much as these companies are. May 26 was the last day for all telecommunications companies to comply with local law in India introduced in February and requires all firms with more than 50 lakh users to provide data tracking and appoint an appeal officer. Failure to comply will not be curtailed as many clickbait articles have been suggested but will result in the loss of the mediator position, meaning companies such as Facebook and Twitter could be prosecuted for any content that is considered illegal on their platforms.
The three-month deadline to comply with the new IT rules has raised concerns of several international organizations as this is a mere fascist behavior to make these platforms abide by the rules. The traceability rule is almost impossible and impractical. The porn ban in UP, the Pubg ban, the 200+ apps ban, etc., has not only snatched the rights but also interfered with the choices of the citizens. Rather than focussing on something inconsequential, the government to focus on the significant things, like addressing and confront the farmers of the ongoing farmer’s protest, arranging the COVID-19 vaccines for the citizens, and most importantly, assisting the people and children who lost their loved ones to the pandemic.
India transmuting into China
Internet freedom is endangered since the Modi government has come into power. Several international organizations have criticized the government’s move as they have imposed some of the strictest rules to snatch away the ‘internet freedom’ of Indians. To start with, in 2018, Modi banned Whatsapp in Kashmir as allegedly, terrorists used the platform to implement their plans. When the whole world enjoys the benefits of fast internet speed under 4G and 5G facility, Kashmir, until 2020, had to use 2G, as Modi government reduced the internet speed in the state. Similarly, the government banned 200 Chinese apps, including the most famous PubG and Shein, which several Indians criticized. And when the second wave peaked in India, GOI asked Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to take down the posts which revealed the government’s mismanagement in handling the pandemic.
According to Pahwa, the new IT rules are a “government-funded tool” that can be used to threaten platforms whenever they want. It is a first step in enabling an online filtering system like China. The regulation is reminiscent of strict communication guidelines for India’s neighbors, some agree. “If these laws are invalid, then we are looking to the police state, which is a good comparison to China,” said Salman Waris, a co-founder of the law firm TechLegis, adding that it could lead to the government “seeking everything on these platforms.” These new curbs and restrictions will show their impact on the international ties of India, as these platforms can no longer run on their original mechanism. The introduction of new rules and regulations will hamper the handling. The privacy, free speech of voters is slowly diminishing, and the government continues to establish their inflexible rules in the country.