A current topics discussion program aired on a national television network in India kicked off a lively debate about whether the government of India should regulate blogs. The program not only offers insights into the state of the blogosphere in India but also broaches a topic that has increasingly cropped up as an issue in a number of developing countries including China and Russia.
Blogging has given people the chance to express their views and feelings on various issues that they feel strongly about, while at the same time providing a platform of anonymity for those who may desire it.
In the social mileu of India this has created quite a hue and cry as some of the blogs seem to be quite “provocative” or offensive to other people. These bloggers face the possibility of receiving comments on their blog that may use unacceptable language and be hurtful to the blogger.
There is a debate raging, at present, in the Indian sub-continent about whether blogs should be regulated. Whether this is possible at all is also an issue under discussion.
Regulation of blogs, according to most bloggers, would be an infringement of their basic right to freedom of expression. As with all forms of media the idea of such censorship does not go down well with the blog authors. They believe that blogging has provided them with a forum to express themselves freely, which they could not do earlier and this freedom should not be curtailed.
As far as the issue of hurting sentiments is concerned, bloggers believe that people who feel offended always have the option of not reading these blogs. Hence their right to freedom of expression should not be censored.
While it is rather unlikely that the government of India, or any other country for that matter, can do much to regulate all blogging activity, or stop the message contained in a blog from going out before it gets written, the fact that they are contemplating this is cause for worry in itself.
Vikram Joshi, a charming gay professional who authors one of the popular blogs featured in the NDTV program says, “The reason a lot of us write blogs is because the mainstream media does not cover issues we face enough. Blogs have turned out to be the only way that young gay men like me can be heard and reach out in this society. If the government clamps down even on this, they will be stifling our voices and curbing our freedoms once again, which isn’t very different than what happens in dictatorial regimes!”