oh my beloved India, why must you take 3 steps back for every step forward? Why? why? why?
By now, we must all have heard about what happened to a poor blogger who dared to criticise NDTV. What that blogger said, we will never know, because he has removed is post (and I have been unable to find in the Google Cache, despite people’s attempts to link to it).
This is a sad and despicable state of affairs – and reeks of plain gunda-gardi. There was NO reason for NDTV to do what it did. The fact a large news organisation had to resort to petty lawyering to silence a blogger simply shows what prehistoric times these people still live in.
Libel – is something which had an effect in the old world – the pre-Internet era, the era in which instant feedback did not exist. If a newspaper published something nasty about you in the per-internet era, you were pretty much finished. The newspaper was distributed to everybody by 7 in the morning, and the world was waking up to false information about you – as an individual, your ability to counter this was minimal, and at best impotent. If you complained to the newspaper, the best you could get would be a small 1-line retraction, which nobody would remember. But everybody would remember the front-page headline which talked about you sleeping with the maid. Maybe the newspaper would take this further, and give you space to counter its claims in the editorial space. Still, there was a lag of at least 24 hours before you could counter something that could be considered ‘libelous’. As we progressed, we got to the age of Television, which is still very much a one-way medium, i.e. Barkha Datt gets to dictate terms to you. You only get to see what she wants to show, and if you’re a terrorist, well then you get to see what your friends are upto, in the Taj hotel.
Now, things don’t work that way on the Internet. If somebody writes some trash about you, it takes about all of 3 seconds to counter that trash.
If Barkha Datt had genuinely been hurt by what this blogger had written, all she had to was:
a) post a comment countering this person’s allegation
b) use the power of a news-gathering organisation, which I assume she has, to post a clarification on her own blog / website, listing out a counter argument to each statement made by the blogger.
But no. Barkha Datt & NDTV it seems, still wander around in bear skins carrying clubs.
However, folks, we should neither be cowed by this, nor should we be worried. For a simple reason – NDTV is NOT the government of India. Had this been a government-sponsored move, I would not be here writing this blog post, because if there is one thing I truly fear, it is the Government of India (unless I am a paki terrorist).
But it is not the government of India. NDTV doesn’t have the power to jail people, or scrutinize their taxes and screw them over. It’s a private company. It is very easy to screw over a private company – especially one that is this stupid. But the question is: will all of us armchair revolutionaries do our bit? It is not hard to nullify NDTV’s attempt at muzzling ‘us’.
- If we can get as many bloggers as possible to carry the post that has been taken down, what can NDTV do?
- What if we get bloggers based outside India to carry that blog post?
- Persistently bring up NDTV’s stupidity at every chance we get – i.e. on every comment posted on their website – or on their blogs.
But these are very tame Gandhian things to do. If you really want to bring a private corporation to its knees, you have to go for the jugular – you have to target its advertisers. Nothing strikes more fear into to the heart of a TV station than finding out that its sponsors are deserting it. We don’t even have to do much – we just have to put up a few words on our blogs saying we boycott:
a) NDTV and
b) all companies that advertise on NDTV – i.e. Kingfisher, e.t.c e.t.c e.t.c.
If we can get enough people to do this, I can promise you we will have an apology from NDTV on their website faster than you can say ‘defamation!’
Further, if we write letters to the companies that advertise on NDTV telling them we are boycotting them and why, again, I promise you, we will get a reaction. But we need some critical mass for this to happen – Indian blogosphere, are you listening? Will you join me in this cause?
As a vitriolic, and expletive-addicted blogger, the one thing I will defend to my dying day is the right to speak my mind (barring yelling Fire in a crowded theater – DUH!). Freedom of speech is the one thing that keeps India ahead of China. It’s the one thing we have that Emiratis don’t have. Let us unite and fight this with the weapons at our disposal. Is anybody with me? Or this going to be a solitary Voice from a 2.5-world Country?
I start my personal crusade today, but it will not make a dent if I am the only person writing letters to companies telling them I will be boycotting their products (and as much I will regret never drinking a kingfisher again, there is always Carlsberg or Castle – who don’t advertise on NDTV…I think).