On November 17, 2019, the world reported its first-ever case of not so well-known disease till some time back, Coronavirus aka COVID-19 meaning a group of viruses causing several diseases in humans as well as animals. The first person to contract this deadly virus is supposedly believed to be a 55-year-old lady in China, the country now crowned as the birth giver of novel Coronavirus disease. As of 09.08.2020, this virus emerged from the womb of China has not only taken over 213 countries and territories all over the world, collectively fighting against the COVID-19 war but has also destroyed 7,31,727 families with their loved ones succumbing to death as a repercussion of this virus.
India has always been an inspirational face for the developing countries and has since time immemorial portrayed itself as a symbol of peace and prosperity but on the other hand, has left no stone unturned in defending the security and sovereignty of itself and its citizens. Flashing light upon the past events which have taken place between India and its Mac Mohan Line demarcating neighboring country, we see that China has always been in the front seat in initiating battles against India and even during this global pandemic, India’s Hindi Chini Bhai-Bhai counterpart is all set to destruct its neighbors rather than paying planet earth for the loss caused worldwide. A recent clash between India and China on June 16, 2020, nearly after 45 years, escalated and turned into a violent face-off between the two countries at Galwan Valley, which supervened in martyrizing not less than 20 jawans of our nation.
As a consequence of our bilateral treaties and relations with China, the Chinese market started dominating the Indian market with its popularised and cheap products accounting for the biggest exporter of goods to India. As per Bloombergquint.com, China reckoned for over 5% of India’s total exports and more than 14% of imports in the financial year 2019-20. With social media gaining admiration and advancement of internet usage, Chinese apps made sure their supremacy prevailed not only in India but also in the world over the internet too. Though, with the increasing tensions across the border, the Indian Government sort its way out to secure the sovereignty and integrity of Bharat by not only taking revenge of its martyred soldiers but also protecting its citizens against infringement of their Right to Privacy. As a result of the numerous complaints received by the Indian Government of private data being stolen in an unauthorized manner from certain mobile applications, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, on June 29, 2020, issued a circular as an urgent need for maintenance of public order and security of the state, banning 59 Chinese apps from further usage of these apps in both mobile and non-mobile internet-enabled devices in India. The said 59 applications have been disallowed to usage by the Ministry of Information and Technology, Government of India, under section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009. Taking the total of banned Chinese apps to 106, the Indian Government had taken a decision to ban more 47 apps most of which are clones of the original 59 apps banned. Speculations doing the round suggest blocking 275 more Chinese applications including one of the most popular games ‘PUBG’.
What is Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000?
Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 empowers the Central Government or any of its officer specially authorized by it in this behalf to issue directions for blocking public access of any information through any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states or public order and/or direct any agency of the Government or intermediary to block for access by the public or cause to be blocked for access by the public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource.
Bytedance, a Chinese company well known for owning and operating one of the most famous applications across the globe i.e. TikTok (launched as ‘Douyin’ in China) meant for entertainment purposes grew tremendously in the Indian market due to its utmost use by the youth of our country. In contravention to its demand, a petition was filed by one, S. Muthukumar in the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court challenging the misuse of social media platforms for the purpose of exploitation and denigration of others, requesting the Hon’ble Court to issue a writ of mandamus. The petitioner appealed to the Hon’ble Court to put a bar on the application ‘TIK TOK’ which has more than 500 million users. The reasons for imposing ban as specified in the petition included encouragement to child pornography, cyberbullying and blasphemy, infringement of the right to privacy, and a wide increase in the number of suicide cases. Thus, the bench of Justice N. Kirubakaran and Justice S.S. Sundar passed an interim order on April 3, 2019, issuing directions to the Central Government: –
- To prohibit downloading of the aforementioned application;
- To prohibit videos made on the application to be telecasted;
- Seek a reply from the Union of India for enactment of any legislation favouring children in protecting them from becoming cyber/online victims.
In lieu of the said order, the Supreme Court asked the Madras High Court to pass further order in the plea, failing which the Madras High Court order delivered on April 3, 2019, shall stand vacated. The Madras High Court, after following the principle of audi alteram partem reversed its previous order of April 3, 2019, and lifted the ban imposed before on Tik Tok stating that the previous order levying ban on the mobile application was put keeping the safety and security of children as its priority against cybercrimes and that India does not have any legislation protecting children against cyberspace. Though, the circular of Indian Government forbidding the use of 59 Chinese apps in India has put a full stop to the confusion.
The prohibition of Chinese apps can be seen as a harmonious retaliation by the Indian Government to China. While the world is curing itself of Coronavirus, India is following the policy of ‘prevention is better than cure’ by curing its citizens of long prone Chinese dependency disease which if not cured today, will prove to be infectious to India in the future. India is heading towards atmanirbharta (self-reliance) and the impact will be visible in the near future as good things take time. Restraining China on social media platforms and restricting its import-export trade with India has come up as a blessing in disguise for many young minds who have been waiting for such opportunities to establish their own brands in the Indian market but were unable to do so due to dominance of Chinese products in India and on the other side, the boycott of Chinese products have proved as a sin for the Chinese market in India impacting their business by cutting them out from their major source of income.
Every coin has two sides and the same can be witnessed in this situation with the ban. Where, on the one hand, it has opened gates of opportunities to flow in for the sharp brains of India, on the other hand, it has put a number of jobs on stake. The scheme of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiated by our Hon’ble Prime Minister during this pandemic era will work as an encouragement dosage for Indians to establish their own start-ups, increase manufacturing units, produce goods in India and export them rather than getting them imported from other countries. Setting up factories, manufacturing plants/units, companies/start-ups will lead to an increase in employment opportunities in India resulting in a minimized brain drain.
The new face of self-reliant India will definitely stand uptight to overcome all the stigmas and unfavorable conditions which have come alongside India as a development speed breaker and India shall outshine as a result of its initiatives, determination, and experience.
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