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The simple answer, like in the case of China is “yes”. However if the question is, can India afford to take such extreme measures, the answer is likely to be “not really” because, simply put, India is not same as China when democratic values are concerned.

Concerned with the rising and abusive character assassination of the political leaders through morphed images and the dangers of inflammatory posts in a religiously super sensitive nation, the flash points of which the government has to strive very, very hard to keep from exploding, the Indian government and now the Indian judiciary have warned the Internet giants that they need to act.

The question is can the internet giants comply and if they will, should the Indian authorities insist on things almost technically impossible on account of the gigantic and growing use of these social media sites?

More importantly, should India be a party to stifling information which the world never know about without the social media like the purported inhumane act of the US army, recently circulated on the social media, inviting strong criticism and appropriate corrective action, perhaps the only way such things can be prevented in the future.

To be fair, though there is no mechanism to judge, detect and thwart offensive material from getting published, both Google and Facebook have built in mechanisms for anyone who may be offended to report such entries and get them officially removed.

Isn’t this how things work in any democratic society including India when it comes to normal media or public expression? In real world no one can be stopped from expressing what he or she feels like. All you can do is to remove such expressions from records and impose appropriate punishment to the offender as per the law of the land.

Then there are “ways” to gag the source of information like the ways adopted to silence Julian Assange and financially destroy his Wikileaks, at least for now, by the very nations where the social media was borne and developed in to the mass platforms of expression, characterising the 21st century human evolution.

In fairness, the Indian authorities are not likely to initiate any stringent action, as was demonstrated in the case of banning of Blackberry in India. For one thing, procedures, especially implementation of law, with several layers of appeal, do take outrageously long in India, where time is the healer in many cases.

What the government is concerned about is its image, which is being unjustifiably tarnished by all kinds of unproven accusations, which gets magnified in the social media. The solution, rather than the uncharacteristic oppressive measures India cannot afford to take like the autocratic China, lies in the political and intellectual evolution of the Indian society, which is relatively young, educated and bestowed with discerning ability.

Chances are, any such action to block either Google or Facebook by the government will be high jacked by the issues starved political opposition, to campaign for the vote bank of urban youth, by organising, for sure, candle light vigils, like the recent trend in India. All Google and Facebook need to offer will be free candles for each new status update or post!

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