What we do in our personal life, in our intimate moments, is of no one’s concern – if it doesn’t affect others – if it doesn’t hurt our people.

Obviously, many of us conceal some innocuous things/habits/preferences from people we know, including our family. We do so, because we know and they know that most of us engage in such activities and the silent etiquette says we should not raise questions on doing so, on getting engaged in such activities.

Watching pornography is one of such activities. How does it affect life – and how does it ruin lives – are paradigms of endless debates over it. Regulating flow of pornographic material is a cultural, sociological and administrative problem.

And there are and there can be ways to regulate/control it – but banning pornographic sites en masse is certainly not advisable.

When people came to know on Sunday that the Government had banned (unofficially) some 857 adult websites in India, shielding behind a Supreme Court order in an ongoing court case, it was like a precursor to a wide-scale backlash. And by Tuesday, it had indeed become so, with government’s move attracting national and international criticism, media attention and outraged opinions on social media. The criticism was aggravated by the fact that many non-pornographic content websites were also banned.

The move to ban so many websites (when many more are still available) was so shabby and weak on logics and principles (of free internet, of freedom of communication) that the NDA government found the move hard to justify.

And by this evening, it decided to ‘lift the ban partially’ – restricting the ban to 150 sites. A high level meeting was held today to review July 31 order. And the sense, forced by the outrage on the ban, forced the government to modify the order.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad an order would be issued to lift the ban and modify the order – to remove ban from sites other than sites with child pornography content and adult blue films.

Now, let’s see what the new, upcoming order says.

India’s is world’s second most populous country and is slated to overtake China by 2022 to become the most populous one, a latest UN projection says.

When combined with other factors, like India’s middle class would be the largest in the world by 2030, like India is the world’s fastest growing economy, like India is the world’s third largest economy by PPP standards, like it is the third largest smartphone market, like it is soon to become the second largest internet market, India becomes as lucrative for online pornography websites as it is for other trade oriented outfits. India is the fifth largest market (in terms of viewers accessing the content) for Pornhub, one of the major global adult entertainment websites.

Banning pornography in India, that is also the world’s largest democracy, will prove counter-effective. We cannot regulate content flow and cannot watch who is watching what. We should not forget pornography was still there when internet was in its primitive leg in India. And we should not, unless it violates law. Yes, internet has made pornography easily available now and therefore a new regulatory framework is needed – defining and pinning any criminal activity related to pornography content flow on internet. But that is true for almost every category of cyber crime in our country. The legal infrastructure on cyber crimes is still evolving here.

Yes, child pornography is illegal and it should strictly banned. Yes, underage viewing of pornographic content should be regulated. But mindset grooming and family values are better tools for that. Correcting anomalies in society has to begin from there.

Watching pornographic websites on internet, on our smartphones, in our intimate, personal moments is a private activity and a mass ban is nothing less that our invasion of privacy here, especially when most of us cannot afford virtual private networks (VPNs).

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –