In the latest episode of the State of the Economy podcast, Ayushi Kar is joined by Chinmayi SK, Founder and Member, The Bachchao Project, and Namrata Maheshwari, Asia Pacific Policy Counsel at Access Now. They delve into the topic of the Indian government’s use of internet shutdowns to control conflict and ethnic violence, particularly focusing on the situation in Manipur. The discussion reveals concerning trends and their impact on various aspects of society.

The podcast highlights a recent report by Surfshark’s Internet Shutdown Tracker, which places India second only to Iran in the number of internet shutdowns during the first half of 2023.

Read: Q2 2023, a busy one for internet shutdowns: Cloudflare report

The discussion provides insights into the ground realities and policy implications of internet shutdowns. The conversation underlines that shutdowns have far-reaching consequences, including economic setbacks for gig workers, damage to identity representation, stifling of dissent, and disruption of communication networks.

Read: India is second in the world in internet shutdowns in H1CY23

SK shares that in Manipur, shutdowns have created an information gap, leading to misinformation, violence, and even heinous crimes. The shutdown’s negative impact on relief efforts, news reporting, and people’s daily lives is evident. She emphasises that even alternative means of communication are not widespread or reliable enough to compensate for the loss of internet access.

Maheshwari delves into the alarming statistics of India’s internet shutdowns and emphasises the need for accountability. She refers to the Anuradha Bhasin versus Union of India case, where the Supreme Court laid out strict guidelines for shutdowns, including public disclosure of orders, proportionality, and necessity.

Read: Manipur incident puts Centre’s internet shutdown rules in question

The conversation touches on the potential dangers of selective app banning, where encrypted platforms might be blocked, compromising privacy and security. This approach could further exacerbate the violation of fundamental rights rather than offering a viable solution.

Overall, the podcast sheds light on the prevalence of internet shutdowns in India, their wide-ranging consequences, and the urgent need for adherence to legal frameworks and accountability measures to ensure the protection of citizens’ rights and well-being. Listen in.

(Host: Ayushi Kar, Producers: V Nivedita, Jayapriyanka J, Nabodita Ganguly & Anjana PV)


About the State of the Economy podcast

India’s economy has been hailed as a bright spot amid the general gloom that seems to have enveloped the rest of the world. But several sectors continue to stutter even as others seem set to fire on all cylinders. To help you make sense of the bundle of contradictions that the country is, businessline brings you podcasts with experts ranging from finance and marketing to technology and start-ups.