#India – becoming the Chamber State ? #politics #Election2014


Jitender Gupta
Rahul Gandhi addressing the CII AGM, Apr 4, Delhi
Business & Politics

The FICCI-CII rallies have replaced grassroots ones. Is politics becoming a corporate playfield?
Sunit Arora, Arindam Mukherjee

Why Corporate Involvement In Politics Is A Problem

Neither Modi nor Rahul are designated leaders of the BJP and Congress, NDA or UPA. What if a different, unheard-of leader emerges from their flock or outside?
The projection of this man or that, this policy or that, runs counter to federal impulses in a large, multi-lingual, multi-interest country where regional parties are booming.
Are business and media houses merely providing the stage for differing views and personalities, or are they openly setting the political agenda in troubled times?
Head-to-head debates may work in homogeneous America. Soapbox oratorical tests are unsuited for heterogeneous India, which is why politicians have spurned it.
In a parliamentary democracy, elected MPs, not business bodies, choose the prime minister. Usurping that role to thrust candidates is an affront to the voter.
Sans deep questioning, all we get is a sales pitch. Bite-sized ad slogans (“India First”) and aphorisms (“Beehive”) end up as wisdom. Result: noise, not nuance.
Real issues around development like food, health, housing and poverty are rarely discussed at business forums.

***

The consultant-about-town takes a quick look around before launching the pitch. You see, there are three corporate clients—all in their early 60s and owners of Rs 1,000-crore plus companies—who are keen on fighting the next general election. If they can deal with the hurly-burly of politics (which includes egos shattering in slow motion, waiting for days to meet a party president), there is a chance to enter Parliament—the most exclusive club for a nat­ion of 1.2 billion people. The consultant nods when asked if these three clients attended any of the big corporate jamborees at industry bodies CII and ficci last week. “That’s where all the action is,” he smiles.

“It shows us their mindset and, as in this case, focuses their thoughts on issues of importance to us.”Naina Lal Kidwai, FICCI president/HSBC

Amazingly, and unsurprisingly, the “action” being talked about was the news last week. India’s top business chambers gave two prominent politicians—the BJP’s Narendra Modi (three back-to-back events, with the ficci Ladies Organisation, Network 18’s ThinkIndia and the three Calcutta chambers of commerce) and the Congress’s Rahul Gandhi (who spent over an hour talking to the CII in Delhi)—a platform to chest-thump their deeds and outline their political roadmap to a collection of their member companies. The media gave it enormous oxygen, and Twitter took it to another level of absurdity thanks to an online spat between #Feku (a sobriquet for Modi) and #PappuCII (for Rahul Gandhi) that raised disturbing questions about our society today.

What gives corporate India the power to serve up a gladiatorial contest between two individuals (who are yet to get their party’s nod as candidates for the top post) within sniffing distance of national elections? Under the guise of “getting to know” the duo’s plans for an economy that’s seen better days, why is corporate India pushing their candidature in a US-style, presidential-type of debate? It appears far removed from reality, given how Indian politics is no longer dominated by the two national political parties. “Outside Delhi, nobody believes in the two-horse race,” argues economist Narendar Pani of Bangalore-based NIAs. “All this has an air of India Shining, it’s completely disconnected from reality.” It also lays bare corporate India’s greatest fear—dealing with a Third Front government or even the allies of the two major combines.

 

Big vibes Modi addressing industry leaders in Calcutta, Apr 9. (Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee)

“India is increasingly becoming like the US, with business controlling the political agenda. It isn’t good.”Vivek Chibber, New York University

Many industry observers say it’s shocking—given that corporate India itself has been plagued by scams—that top business houses are trying to shape India’s political agenda by throwing money power to project who should lead India. For isn’t corporate India at the heart of the massive scams and scandals that have afflicted the UPA government, right from Satyam to 2G and CWG to the Radia tapes, mining scams and money-laundering? Banks like hsbc have been under investigation worldwide and in India for fuelling money- laundering. More recently, a Cobrapost investigation showed laundering faultlines at HDFC Bank, ICICI and Axis. It’s reached such a level that Business Standard’s T.N. Ninan proclaimed in a recent signed article: “In every case, the original problem was created by business, which now complains of the fallout. The old ways of doing business cannot go on if India is to do better.”

There’s also a historical context to how politicians have played the industry bodies to push their cause. This tack is evident when you look at the legitimisation of Modi (a polarising politician by any stretch) after the 2002 Gujarat riots. The very next year, in 2003, he launched Vibrant Gujarat in partnership with FICCI to showcase the state’s economic prowess. And with each passing edition, he’s got the cream of Indian industry (from Ratan Tata and Ambanis downwards) to sing his praises. This corporate identification with Modi has rea­ched such a level that a particular favourite of his, the Adani Group, even cancelled its sponsorship of a Wharton event after the organisers withdrew their invitation to the Gujarat CM. So, it’s hardly surprising that Modi is attending a FICCI event, evident from this tweet from the BJP parliamentary panel member Smriti Z. Irani: “Biggest difference between FICCI n CII event, FICCI FLO begins wid d National Anthem putting INDIA 1st, way 2 go Ladies :-).”

“Leaders from well-developed states are called here. You don’t see Akhilesh, Nitish being invited.”Milind Kamble, DICCI

Indeed, the CII has traditionally been closer to the Congress (remember how former CII head Tarun Das had to apologise to Modi after some of its members made noises about the Gujarat riots when he came to attend its function?). Like Modi and the BJP played off FICCI against CII to his advantage, the UPA carves up its ministries between the industry lobby bodies. So if infrastructure and roads and highways “goes” to CII, information & broadcasting and textiles “interact” with FICCI. Industrialists find it difficult to interact with government as an individual company. Becoming a part of a chamber’s committee, say, on infrastructure, gives a fig leaf of respectability while pushing a company’s case.

The charitable view, of course, is that industry has a reason to invite top politicians—chambers do so every year—given that elections are approaching and that the economy is not in the pink of health. But it’s evident that the engagement has seen a massive spike compared to previous pre-election years. This is also mirrored in the vocal reactions to speeches. Many industry leaders, though enamoured by Rahul Gandhi’s presence and body language, were annoyed that he did not address issues like inflation and GDP growth. “Both the leaders had an entire nation to address, but they chose only one class of people to speak to,” says farmers’ activist Devinder Sharma.

“Corporates are part of India. They are the ones shaping the economy by hard work…or the lack of it.”Cho Ramaswamy, Editor, Tughlaq

It does appear that a large part of the success of business’s role in politics has been fuelled by the media which has routinely played into their hands. Of course, this happens because a predominant part of the media is today owned and contro­lled by business. For example, in CII there were dozens of discussions, but only the session with Rahul Gandhi was aired live to TV audiences. Prof Vivek Chibber, associate professor of sociology, New York University, and author of Locked in Place, which takes a detailed look at business-politics links, says, “The media in India should be seen as a part of the corporate community and it serves their interest. It is drunk with the view of the business community. Unfor­tunately, the debate in the Indian media today is so narrow and so favourable towards business.”

It is a symbiotic corporate-media relationship: like Mukesh Ambani who has made a tidy investment in Network 18, which kickstarted the ThinkIndia dialogue series with Modi last week. Or consider the India Today Conclave (the Aditya Birla Group has invested in Living Media, which owns India Today, a competitor of Outlook) which invited Modi for its leadership summit a few months ago. In Calcutta last week, Modi met a leading daily’s owner for over two hours. Business houses are also big advertisers and eyeballs mean good business. It’s evident that the politician’s messages are amplified by the media.

“It’s a new generation of MPs who have corporate links. They have no parliamentary experience.”Manikrao Gavit, Former Union minister

More often than not, the encounters are also scripted to avoid criticism. Ever catch an industrialist questioning Modi or Rahul Gandhi about 2002 or 1984, respectively? “The boardrooms set the agenda, not the newsrooms. In Andhra Pradesh, for instance, channels owned by corporate houses have a single-point agenda—improve business. So it is with channels in Delhi with footprints in the rest of the country,” says Madabhushi Sridhar, professor at the Centre for Media Law and Public Policy, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.

Most experts agree that the media is not questioning this corporate-led development credo and binary view about politics. Indeed, you are bombarded with a whole lot of spin: ThinkIndia’s first panel discussion was on whether the “natural rhythm” of Indian society is liberal and right-of-centre—an amazing generalisation for a country of such immense complexity. Or consider the massive lobbying (notably in BCCL’s Times of India) against proposals to tax the rich.

As expected, despite all the criticism, the industry justifies this interference with the political system. “Industry is a vital stakeholder in nation-building and growth. So it has an important role to play in policy formulation too,” says CII D-G Chandrajit Banerjee. Current FICCI president Naina Lal Kidwai’s reply is also on similar grounds: “The presence of political leaders allows us to understand their mindset. And, as in this case, it focuses their thoughts on issues of importance to us.” The subtext is that the industry has huge financial exposure with political parties for, as elections approach, they are being pushed to ‘contribute’ to the ever-expanding kitties of political parties. From their point of view, there is no better time to put pressure to mould policies to suit their interests.

“By the media hype, it appears we don’t need elections. Just count TRPs, elect the two on the spot.”Devinder Sharma, Farmers’ activist

Experts insist that this will not end at election time. Like in the US, you’ll find business controlling the political agenda in the future. “This will lead to inequalities because business will always look at its own interests and maximised profits when deciding political agenda and policy,” warns Professor Chibber. The key question is whether Indian business, with all that’s gone on in the past few years, has the moral right to influence India’s policymaking and laws anymore?

The number of cases where corporate India is complicit goes on increasing—diversion of slum redevelopment land for commercial use; diversion of irrigation water for industries (as witnessed in drought-hit Maharashtra); helping industries acquire land without paying due compensation; and finally the next big scam in the making, pressing ahead with privatisation of resources in the guise of public-private-partnership (PPPs) without any safeguards. In many cases, political proximity helps corporates wriggle out of tricky situations—like being over-leveraged—and getting state bailouts.

Earlier this month, India’s largest banking entity, the SBI, embarked on a long overdue exercise to publicise wilful loan defaults ranging from a few lakhs to several thousand cro­res. The bank found many had even disposed of the collateral without informing it and have not repaid des­pite having the capacity to do so. “Unless citizens form groups, political action committees, participate in political activity, India is going to be ruled by a small group of political and business leaders,” warns T.V. Mohandas Pai, chairman, Manipal Global Education.

“Both were looking for a platform for longer term play. And these are non-partisan with high visibility.”Dilip Cherian, Image guru

What is indicative of this trend is the rush of people from business entering politics. Industrialists like Vijay Mallya of Kingfisher, Naveen Jindal of Jindal Group, Praful Patel, Raj­kumar Dhoot of Videocon and L. Rajagopal of Lanco are currently MPs; others like Anil Ambani, Shobhana Bhartiya and Anu Aga have been MPs before. Many industrialists are also pushing their people in the upper and lower houses. Why, Subrata Roy of the in-the-news Sahara took out advertisements in the papers to inform everyone that 175 MPs and 120 senior bureaucrats attended the “rice-eating” ceremony of his granddaughter. Says ex-Union minister Manikrao Gavit, who was a member of the Lok Sabha ethics committee, “The new generation which is coming into Parliament has corporate links. They have no experience of the parliamentary system. We have recommended rules to make them more aware of how the system should function and allow for debate.”

The figures are quite striking. According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 60 per cent of MPs in the last Lok Sabha were crorepatis. Candidates with Rs 5 crore or more in assets had 30 per cent more chance of getting elected while those with Rs 1 lakh or less had less than 0.5 per cent probability of getting into the Lok Sabha. Says Anil Bairwal of ADR, “In a democracy, we must engage with the government. But who is engaging more? In the last 5-10 years, the influence of money on politics and government has increased at a rapid pace. It is working to the detriment of democracy.”

It’s clear there are fewer voices speaking for the aam aadmi as the lines between politics and business blur. India yet lacks a strong and moneyed social sector which can be an effective counter to business interests. As for the forthcoming elections, recent history is a pointer. Who would have thought India Shining would have come a cropper in 2004? Why did many fail to anticipate the extent of UPA’s return to power in 2009? Given the multi-varied and often mysterious ways of the Indian voter, it makes sense to be a little humble before laying out a menu before her.

Source- Outlook- By Sunit Arora and Arindam Mukherjee with Lola Nayar, Anuradha Raman and Pragya Singh

 

Open letter to #FICCI on Narendra Modi hiding the Truth about Women in Gujarat #Vaw #Womenrights


MODI1

THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT WOMEN IN GUJARAT

– Ila Pathak
Dear Madams of FICCI,
From reports in media we have understood that our Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi has impressed you all with his hard-hitting eloquence. On reading and hearing report of the speech, we, the women of Gujarat were wonder-struck ! Was he speaking of women in Gujarat? Was he revealing the whole truth? Certainly not. So we thought that we could enlighten you all about the reality in Gujarat.
In Gujarat’s population the number of women has gone down. In 2001 there were 921 women against 1000 men. In 2011, three more were lost per a thousand, 918 were counted in the census. This is the ten year period during which nine other States recorded increase in the number of women, from 45 in Delhi to 4 in Rajastan. Gujarat kept losing.
Mr. Modi was speaking of female foeticide, an old 18th century practice. In Gujarat the sex ratio in the age group of 0 to 6 years in 2001, was 886 girls as against 1000 boys. In 2011 it was 883 girls as against 1000 boys. Difference of only 3 gained over ten years! It was only in late 2011 that the news of the government having closed 101 sonography clinics was heard; thereafter a few were reported closed in 2012. In 2013, so far, no penal action under PCPNDT Act is reported. That is the Governance in Gujarat! Does the Government care?
Latest surveys (2006) concerning married women’s health note that 55.5% women were anaemic in the age group of 15 to 49 years of age. In the same age group 60.8% pregnant women were malnourished and anaemic. In 1998-99, 74.5% of dalit and tribal children in the age group of 6 months to 35 months were reported as malnourished. In 2005-2006 the number of such children increased to 79.8%. 49.2% children have not developed to normal height, 41% do not have the weight normally children of their age group could have. During the last election this issue was taken up and the minister in charge had rushed to find out where the fortified food packets had gone! That is Governance in Gujarat! Maternal mortality rate and Infant mortality rate do not come down; mothers and children keep dying in Gujarat or continue to survive as weaklings.
To refer to women as mothers all the time is pretentious. We have noted how young mothers die of malnourishment. Lack of treatment (because no government dispensary, block or district hospital has a gynecologist appointed, large city hospitals provide such facility) is one more obvious reason.. No wonder that many women deliver babies in the ambulance like buses known as 108 service. Governance of Gujarat’s government does not seem to follow any policy for saving young women’s lives. Even young men’s lives. Very recently, a resident doctor died of Dengue fever in Ahmedabad’s large Civil Hospital and many more are now dying of Swine flu in Gujarat. The deaths seem to argue absence of good governance.
Education for girls was free. In last couple of years the government has stopped encouraging continuation of such schools and colleges. Now girls have to pay hefty fees if they choose to get ‘good’ education. That is the Governance in Gujarat.
Mr. Modi spoke of the Bill for 50% women members in Local-Self Government which, the Governor of Gujarat, Dr. Shrimati Kamalaji, despite being a woman herself did not sign. The Governor of Gujarat did not sign it because the provisions in the Bill were mixed up with another issue, that of compulsory voting. The Bill was returned by the Governor asking the Government to separate the issues, get the Bill for 50% reservation for women passed again and then she would be prepared to sign it. The Governor is found fault with which is emphasised by adding ‘despite being a women herself’. This is Modistyle. The details of why she did not sign it are not spoken of, so the listeners are led to believe that the Governor of Gujarat is insensitive towards women’s rights despite being a woman herself. Half-truth is the hall-mark of Modyism.
Mr Modi had to belittle the Governor of Gujarat because she took steps to appoint the Lokayukta in Gujarat which he did not approve of. So a long drawn battle is being fought in the Supreme Court. If Mr. Modi had only wanted to speak about his contribution for women he could have spoken of village panchayats formed fully by women members. In May, 2012, 422 panchayats were organised through consensus wherein all members were women. Such organising denies democratic election and it is implied that only those who command village level polity can have their say. One of the women attending the State function held to congratulate their becoming important office bearers in their villages, had told a reporter that her husband asked her a few days earlier to be Sarpanch in his place and he asked her to attend the function, so she had come up to Gandhinagar, Gujarat’s capital, Mr. Modi could have proudly spoken of women-headed Panchayats but, unmindful of her status, self-respect or sense of decorum he preferred to take a venomous dig at the woman who holds a high constitutional office in Gujarat. A rabble could greet such comments with claps and laughter, but I believe, that you, Madams of FICCI, did not appreciate such remarks. All said and done Dr. Srimati Kamalaji is an octogenerian who commands such respect that she could be rightfully addressed as ‘Ma’, the mother. But this is how the people are won in Gujarat, by using half-truths and by debunking known persons without caring for their status in public life or without spending a thought on his own personal dignity. As long as the crowds go home laughing he is assured of votes, so why should he care about such silly issues like dignity of the speaker himself. That is how Gujarat is gained. And it is governed to gain accolades for him who got the votes. As long as that is gained, governance in Gujarat does not seem to matter.
Increase in crimes in Gujarat is phenomenal during last decade. Robberies and murders of old people, including women are reported every other day. 235 rapes were registered in 2001, in 2011 the number is 413. Kidnappings have increased from 731 in 2001 to 1329 in 2011. All other crimes appear to have gone down. The police stations do not want to register crimes because they are reprimanded if the number of crimes increases. Gujarat has to be shown as Crime Free State so less registration is better from governance point of view. We are aware of circulars that ask the policemen down the line not to register women’s complaints in the first instance, they take ‘applications’. Reduced crime rate could vouch for good governance in Gujarat. It is followed by possibilities of less punishment / justice and freedom to commit crimes.
Business is in the blood of Gujarat’s people. Many women run their own business, not only in food items but also as designers, boutique owners etc and are doing very well. Many women are employed as retailers in various markets. But ‘Lijjat’ papads are not produced by tribal women. That is misinformation. Business by women has flourished for a long time in Gujarat, despite Mr. Modi.
Yours sincerely,
Ila Pathak

Top Photo
(Dr. Ila Pathak is a founder President of Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group (AWAG). After seeing media reports and speech of Mr. Narendra Modi CM of Gujarat, as he was addressing 29th session of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry Ladies’ organisation, FICCI, New Delhi. Dr. Pathak had written a letter to Madams of FICCI.)

 

#India- Costly push to mega projects


Author(s):
Sugandh Juneja
Issue Date:
2013-1-15

Cabinet Committee for Investment may dilute environmental and forest clearances

DESPITE concerns from civil society groups, the Union Cabinet gave in-principle nod for setting up a Cabinet Committee for Investment (CCI) on December 13. Introduced as the National Investment Board (NIB) by the Union finance ministry earlier this year, CCI is being set up for expediting clearances for mega projects with investment of above Rs 1,000 crore. CCI will be chaired by the prime minister and comprise members from various ministries as decided by him.

Setting up of the committee is in line with the recommendation of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), released in May this year, on augmentation of coal production. “There is a need to constitute an empowered group along the lines of Foreign Investment Promotion Board as a single-window mechanism with representatives of Central nodal ministries and state governments to grant the necessary clearances…,” the report says. The idea has been picked up by the finance ministry, which alleges green clearances are holding up the country’s infrastructure development and growth.

An analysis of clearances granted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) during the 11th Five Year Plan shows the finance ministry’s allegations do not hold water. The analysis by Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) shows that the ministry granted many times more environment clearances than planned for the 11th Five Year Plan in key sectors like thermal power, coal and non-coal mining, cement and iron and steel. About 200,000 hectares of forestland was diverted during the period for these sectors. “Where is the question of green clearances holding up growth? MoEF is granting way more clearances than required, disregarding environment and social issues. What is needed is institutional reform in MoEF to make  the clearance process stronger, transparent and accountable. Otherwise, more institutions like CCI will come up and further dilute the process,” says Chandra Bhushan, deputy director of CSE.

JAYANTHI NATARAJAN An investment board will only promote investment, while MoEF has to protect the integrity of environment
JAYANTHI NATARAJAN,
UNION ENVIRONMENT MINISTER

In October, Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan wrote to the prime minister expressing concern over setting up of such a body. “When a minister…,” she wrote, “acting upon the expert advice of officers, takes a decision, there is absolutely no justification for an NIB (now CCI) to assume his/her authority, nor will the NIB have the competence to do so.” She also stated that no one has the right to set up a project just in the name of investment. Her concerns, as pointed out in the letter, stem from a fundamental difference between NIB and MoEF: the objective of an investment board will be to promote investment while that of MoEF is to protect the integrity of the environment and protect forests, wildlife and forest-dwellers.

During a discussion in the Lok Sabha in November, K P Dhanapalan, an MP from Kerala, also said that CCI may dilute clearance procedures. “This may aggravate environmental issues and hence needs to be carefully thought through,” he said. During the discussion, Finance Minister P Chidambaram clarified that CCI will only deal with large projects that give a fillip to the economy. “The committee will monitor these projects and will advise the ministries concerned…,” he explained.

P  
CHIDAMBARAM Cabinet Committee for Investment will only deal with large projects that give a fillip to the economy
P CHIDAMBARAM,
UNION FINANCE MINISTER

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has welcomed CII. “We hope the committee helps the industry get state clearances also in a faster and time-bound manner as maximum clearances are required at the state level,” FICCI president R V Kanoria said in a press release.

Meanwhile, civil society groups are opposing setting up of CCI. Greenpeace and Bengaluru-based non-profit Environment Support Group (ESG) have initiated online campaigns against it. “Setting up of CCI is undemocratic, dangerous and against the national interest,” says Leo Saldahna, coordinator at ESG. Shilpa Chohan, Supreme Court lawyer, says till the time CCI does not overrule the decision of a ministry and is just an administrative body to look into delays, it may prove to be a positive step by bringing together different departments on a single platform.


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/costly-push-mega-projects

 

Internet blocks, freedom of expression and reasonable restrictions


 

Nikhil Pahwa, of  http://www.medianama.com/ writes on FB
Four points I made yesterday at the FICCI organized meeting with the IT Secretary R. Chandrashekhar and CERT-in Head Gulshan Rai on IT Rules, Internet blocks, freedom of expression and reasonable restrictions  (from my scribbled notes):
1. I’m concerned about the broad phrases included in the IT Rules which make illegi

timate censorship of content on the web legitimate, and bring in the scope for unreasonable restrictions. There needs to be specificity in the IT Rules and the broad phrases which allow intermediariesto block content on the web need to be changed/revisited because they create the medium for abuse of the rules as and when the government/a regulator wants.2. Lack of transparency leads to lack of trust. People need to know what has been blocked, why it has been blocked, who has taken the decision to block it, and what is the process of getting the block removed (if it is my page). When citizens visit a blocked page, there should be all of this information for that specific page. Transparency will ensure accountability. (In my haste, a point I’ve made before but forgot to make here – there needs to be a public list of blocked sites maintained by the government).

3. Recourse needs to be established. If my page is blocked, there needs to be adequate protection for me, as a creator of content, a citizen and a business. It’s not possible for me to go to court in each instance, to get a block removed. Let the complainant go to court to validate his complaint within a specified time period, for which the block remains active. If not, the block should be removed. (Someone also mentioned a counter notice mechanism, which I think is fair).

4. Limitations need to be put on the actions of intermediaries when it comes to blocking. The state’s job is to not just prevent malicious content, but also to protect the rights of citizens, in terms of freedom of expression. After Anonymous India hacked into the servers of one intermediary (ISP/Telco), it was revealed that several of the links blocked had not been mandated by courts or the government, but were those critical of the intermediary. This means that ISPs are themselves potentially curtailing freedom of expression online, and this needs to be looked into.

One of the key points I remember being made was about the government also sticking to the rules, because it appears that in the recent blocks, they haven’t followed due process, even though Mr Rai repeatedly claimed that they have, (alarmingly) even with respect to the blocking of some media reports like that on Al Jazeera.

 

No, we’re not trying to censor the Internet: Sibal #Joke


New Delhi: Government has no plan to manage content on Internet but there should be a mechanism to redress complaints of aggrieved citizens, Telecom and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said.

He also asserted the country has the sovereign right to bring all media networks, including social media, under Indian laws.

“The government will not be involved in managing anything. We do not want to interfere, we do not want to manage but if there are citizens who are aggrieved they should have a redressal mechanism,” Sibal said during a round-table on Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules 2011.

The round-table saw participation from Members of Parliament, Internet companies and industry bodies like CII, FICCI and Assocham.

Kapil Sibal in this file photo. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

“All networks have to be subject to Indian laws. That is are our sovereign right” he said, adding that social media also needs to work with various stakeholders to ensure that it exercises due diligence in context of content that is hosted on it.

He said the government will organise many such round- tables with participation of all stakeholders in order to evolve a consensus on the matter.

“The good part is that the government is saying that it is not looking at censorship, not looking at controlling or managing the content. I think those statements are very important,” Nasscom President Som Mittal said.

Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’ Brien said as Internet is a people’s medium so its freedom should be maintained.

He, however, added there should be a mechanism to check harmful content but states should be consulted on defining any such matter.

PTI

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