A letter to Kapil Sibal

Dear Sir,

This is regarding your recent attempt to control content posted on the internet. You being one of the very few politicians I have respect and faith in, I am sure your actions were intended for good and comes from the right place. But any attempt to curtail information on the internet will be futile and it will not only cause a major uproar, but also it will cause a major disruption in the daily lives of millions who use the internet for genuine purposes.

Internet, as you might know has been a major boon for information sharing and communication in India over the past decade. It has changed the way we fundamentally live our lives today. The power of the Internet has been causing sea waves of change in every main stream area like education, business, entertainment, health, travel, tourism and every other segment one can imagine. As of November 2011, there are about 100 million active internet users in India, which is growing exponentially thanks to cheaper broadband and mobile internet access made possible by recent reforms.
Even a small medicine like Aspirin  has side effects. The Internet like any other is not without its cons. There are hundreds of negative things one can explore using the internet. There is widespread impersonation, identity theft, information on making homemade bombs and even unnatural sex.

But its benefits, like the little aspirin, far outweigh its disadvantages which include millions of jobs, innovations, aspiring entrepreneurs with amazing ideas on how internet can help India scale new heights and bridging the growing gap between the rich and the poor in terms of information and international exposure.

Youth of India today are better informed thanks to the vast powerhouses of knowledge like the Wikipedia and are able to better understand the issues that confront them, enable them to research from higher education to jobs and even for the right soul mate. The information online not only enables the youth to know about the latest developments in the country, but also gain views from both sides for any issue and take better informed decisions.
There are many instances where internet has helped victims get in touch with their family in times of emergency and breaking news is usually broken online. One can watch inspiring speeches of Steve Jobs at Harvard and pay my telephone bills and taxes from the comfort of my home.

The call for ban mainly comes from not knowing how these technologies work. For example, Google has been able to provide relevant information on every search you throw at it by using secret algorithms which require almost no human intervention. Facebook is a communication tool which allows millions air their personal views and Facebook does not curtail the type of information posted on its portal unless it is deliberately offensive to a group.

A slightly offensive yet apt example for content censoring would be this particular image –

Being “offensive” or “wrong” is a very relative term. One mans views might be wrong for another, isn’t it appropriate that an individual makes the choice  after reading both sides of the coin?

Many countries across the world have tried to beat the internet and have met with major uproar and the attempts have been largely futile. Even in China, which was taken as an example by Justice Kait in his recent comment at Delhi High Court regarding content censorship, it is possible to access information if you know where to look.

As the saying goes, if you cannot beat them, join them. The internet will certainly welcome more transparency in the government and a more accessible Member of Parliament or local representative will not hurt anyone. Many popular celebrities and politicians already use the Internet to their advantage. In technologically advanced countries like the United States, President Obama and his government has openly welcomed the advancements of social media and search engines which is obvious on a visit to the White House website – http://www.whitehouse.gov/

I sincerely request you to recheck your thoughts on a digital censorship and consult with technologists before any decision is taken. And trust me, any initiative to ban or censor the internet will result in a major PR disaster and then there is the fact that, its just not possible to contain free speech!

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.
Anand Subramanian,
Digital Entrepreneur
Kerala, India.
P.S: your official website at http://kapilsibalmp.com/ has coding bugs which does not allow me to send an email to you personally.

Wrote an email to our Minister of Communications and Information Technology – Kapil Sibal. But in the end, found that his contact form on his official website was not working. So decided to blog it and hope the power of social media and search engines will allow this email to reach him!

“pre-screen” image from http://kapilsibalprescreens.tumblr.com/

Translation: In Hindi, “kundi” is a latch, in tamil and malayalam (in baby talk atleast) it can mean the bum. Source

  1. Congrats your message should wake up our politicians.

    To solve any problem our politicians always start from the wrong end.

    To catch a donkey they try catching the donkey’s tail instead of the neck.

    In the end what they get is a good kick from the donkey and they wake up too late to realize their mistake.

    Thanks once again for your creative message to the minister.

    A. S. Bhasker Raj

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