In the 21st century, humans have made significant progress in moving away from a barbaric living style devoid of basic human rights and freedom of speech.
The advent of social media and the digital world has taken the freedom of speech to a new level, allowing people to express themselves freely. However, this new form of freedom of speech comes with its challenges, as exemplified by the recent controversy involving Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and the Indian government.
Twitter, a microblogging social media platform, has always claimed to support and promote freedom of speech. Yet, several authoritarian governments, including the Indian government, have attempted to control these platforms through political and economic influence, aiming to suppress the voices of the masses and curtail freedom of speech. India, in particular, has been under scrutiny for its violations of basic human rights and suppression of freedom of speech.
The authoritarian rules and regulations imposed by the Indian government raise concerns about the violation of human rights and the restriction of freedom of speech. Despite India’s claim to be the largest democratic country, there have been instances where the RSS ideology has influenced the Indian parliament, leading to the implementation of unnecessary laws that violate human rights. The violation of human rights is not a new phenomenon, as seen in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, where the Modi government has suppressed the Muslim majority population.
In line with this fascist legacy, the Modi government has attempted to suppress and control the largest farmer protest in the world, which saw tens of thousands of farmers and approximately 250 million people standing in solidarity against three new agricultural bills introduced by the government. In a recent interview with the YouTube channel “Breaking Point,” former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey claimed that the Indian government pressured the microblogging website to censor content and prevent it from going viral, thereby fueling the protest.
Dorsey stated, “India is a country that had many requests of us around the farmer’s protest, around particular journalists that were critical of the government, and it manifested in ways such as ‘we will shut Twitter down in India,’ which is a very large market for us; ‘we will raid the homes of your employees,’ which they did; ‘we will shut down your offices if you don’t follow suit,’ and this is India, a democratic country.” Dorsey went on to draw comparisons with his experiences in other countries, including Turkey, which he considered very similar to India.
In response to these claims, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Technology, denied them, calling them an outright lie. However, given the nature of the Modi government, which is associated with the RSS ideology, the actions claimed by Jack Dorsey are not entirely unexpected. This is not the first time the Indian government has attempted to suppress the voices of the masses in violation of human rights and freedom of speech. In 2018, WhatsApp sued the Indian government in the Delhi High Court over regulations requiring traceability, which would infringe upon citizens’ constitutional right to privacy.
These outrageous attempts by the Indian government to control and regulate social media and public opinion, coupled with the recent claims made by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, raise questions about human rights violations, freedom of speech, and the manipulation of public narratives.
Democracy is meant to ensure freedom of expression, open dialogue, and the right to dissent. Yet, in the so-called largest democracy in the world, the opposite seems to be happening.
In conclusion, the Modi government’s authoritarian rule in India raises major concerns about the repression of free speech and breaches of human rights. As noted by former CEO Jack Dorsey, attempts to manage and regulate social media sites like Twitter are an example of how the government likes to muzzle dissenting voices and shape public perceptions. These activities go against democratic ideals, which are meant to uphold the freedom of speech, the right to an open discussion, and the right to disagree. Holding governments responsible for their actions and ensuring the protection of fundamental human rights are essential as the globe moves towards a more inclusive and democratic society. The situation in India is a clear reminder of the difficulties in promoting and sustaining freedom of speech in the digital era, and it demands attention from everyone over the world in order to protect these fundamental rights for all people.
The Author has a degree in International Relations from the National Defense University Islamabad, currently associated with a cyber security program at the Institute of Regional Studies Islamabad. He Tweets @ZainulAbidin419