The Digital India campaign has given its New Year gift – INTERNET SHUTDOWN.
In 2019, over 4,000 hours of internet shutdowns happened in India, which cost India more than $1.3 billion. At present, India’s economy is suffering from some major economic black holes and the internet shutdowns are more than a nuisance.
In today’s India, the newest and the most popular means of authoritarianism are internet shutdowns. For more than four months in 2019, people in India’s Jammu and Kashmir region were devoid of internet access when Article 370, which granted the state special status was invalidated.
The Citizenship Amendment Act also resulted in some major shutdowns, which happened in different regions like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Tripura, some regions of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Unfortunately, the loss was the third-highest, amongst the 21 countries, including Venezuela, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Kazakhstan, and Indonesia; where most important internet shutdowns happened in the last year.
Simon Migliano, the head of research at Top10VPN stated, ‘India imposes internet restrictions more often than any other country, with over 100 shutdowns documented in 2019. As they tend to be highly-targeted, even down to the level of blacking out individual city districts for a few hours while security forces try to restore order, many of these incidents have not been included in this report, which instead focused on larger region-wide shutdowns,” Migliano said. “The full economic impact is, therefore, likely to be higher even than our $1.3 billion figure.’
The sad fact is that internet shutdowns don’t simply hold back information, they also repress the economy. In total, India had witnessed 106 internet shutdowns in 2019. It is quite paradoxical that the world’s biggest democracy, has recently developed a tool, to control its own citizens, practising democratic supremacy. These shutdowns represent a threatening and fascist style of governing.
The largest democracy is not just about the power to elect your favoured government, but more importantly, the power and authority to hold the elected government answerable.