SMS Ban: A Retrospective

Posted on August 22, 2012 in Assam Exodus

By Reeti Mahobe:

The recent Central government’s diktat on limiting the number of SMS’s to 5 per day has invited varied reactions from all the corners of society. The Parliament showed solidarity over the decision but what crosses our mind is if it really is the answer as the breaker to the exodus of our citizens from North-East part of the country. It may seem to be the immediate and definite way to prevent it from worsening further. But such an action doesn’t really seem to be convincing as the foolproof measure to stop the rumour mongers from committing this again.

It brought to us the ‘other’ side of impact of changing communication technology. This has alerted us to abort such mischief from happening any time later. This though doesn’t definitely mean we must stop getting any gains out of it. We need to conduct a proper investigation into the probe to expose the real motive as well as those who were responsible for it. Recently the news has been coming from the home secretary that it had perhaps its origin in Pakistan. Before zeroing on to any conclusion it’s in the good of all, that proper homework is done in this regard. It has also warned everyone to refrain from practice of factionalism, to divide the nation into the categories of mainstream population and non-mainstream population, be it the case of people from North-East or the tribal population or anyone. It can certainly be termed as an act against ‘Indianness’ rather than against a particular group.

Initial investigations reveal the MMS’s that were sent had ‘doctored’ images containing pictures from different parts of the world. Similar kind of ‘tool’ was used to instigate people in London riots via social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. It has brought in, the need of the hour that some kind of regulation be there on various modes of ‘social media’ so that any ‘hate messages, graphics, or videos’ could be blocked. The problem is not in the advent of ‘social media’ rather with ‘obsession’ that emanates from it. The procedure that’s available now is to ‘report abuse’ any objectionable content, then the site examines, thereafter the ban/blocking happens. This is a time taking process keeping in view the number of times people keep checking their accounts. Moreover, the line between what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong’ is quite a delicate and subjective one that varies from person to person and community to community.

The ‘fear psychosis’ that embraced the people with this has to be countered with proper ‘confidence building measure’ so as to make them feel secured, not just those who are marching towards their home but also their relatives. The ‘solution’ doesn’t lie in banning the SMS’s!! ‘Texting’ lately has emerged as an extremely useful tool for people. It has become cheaper with ‘free SMS plans’ and thus enables us to convey the ‘essential’ news and information to greater number of people. This has also made lives of people convenient with ‘transaction’ being updated via messages. Restricting this to the extent of ‘mere’ 5 messages per day for period of fortnight is going to have adverse impact. We do hope that government understands it soon if not late!

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