It is a classic case of climbdown – classic because it comes immediately after the public backlash on ‘government’s proposed draft on net neutrality’.
Classic, because it reaffirms the ‘established by now’ fact that every government in power, irrespective of the political party it belongs to, follows the same tools to attract public’s wrath that it had so vehemently opposed and criticised while it was in opposition.
Classic, because most of such issues face ‘dilution of such draft proposals’ including complete U-turns’ with the electoral compulsions of the world’s largest (and robustly functional) democracy).
Not complete, but a U-turn, again, happened today.
Classic, because governments are forced to take a completely hostile line to what they propose in a ‘policy draft’ paper like the government had to do with ‘draft encryption policy’ paper today.
From the very outset, the ‘expertly’ worded paper was so controversial that it had to see the fate it saw today. You, rightly, cannot expect from people in a democracy like India that they will allow you to monitor their personal communication and will ‘preserve’ the stuff for 90 days for authorities’ kind ‘perusal and action’ (or other similar provisons/words).
Classic because it comes within six months of a grand rebuke by the Supreme Court on another draconian policy matter. Supreme Court, while striking down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act on March 24, had remarked, “It is clear that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such right.”
Classic because the apex court had struck down the section finding it abusive towards the ‘fundamental rights’ given to us by the Indian Constitution but the ‘experts’ behind this ‘draft paper’ thought to come with something even more ‘draconian’, in fact totally illogical.
Classic because more ‘experts’ would study this ‘expertly worded’ draft paper to instil their expertise in creating a ‘reworded draft paper’.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Communications and Information Technology Minister, said today, “Experts had framed a draft policy. This draft policy is not the government’s final view.”
But in a democracy like India, such ‘policy drafts’ should not be even the initial view of a government.
Otherwise, like this, we will continue to have such ‘classic cases of climbdown’.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/