Wednesday, July 19, 2006

*looks over her shoulder and types quickly*

This morning my dad was reading aloud from the paper. He looked at my mom and said, Somika blogs doesn’t she? It seems that blogs have been blocked by the government now. And my mother’s eyes widened and she said, really…why? And then he replied, because apparently, terrorists have been using blogs to communicate. And then ma called out to me, did you know this?

I was in the kitchen making tea and listening, amused a little and angered a little that the entire issue was being reduced to that of curbing terrorism. It gives people the impression that the government is doing us all a favour. Look how safe and protected we all are now that access to weblogs has been denied.

So I raised my voice and said, yeah well, there are ways to work around the stupid block. And just because the government feels that a few blogs threaten national security and communal harmony, why did they have to go and block every blog in the country? It just proves incompetence and nothing else. A panicky government doesn’t instill much faith in its citizens. And I smiled at baba as I handed him his mug that says Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children.

It’s a bit of a family joke when ma and I take digs at the GoI. With baba being a scientist for the defence, we have no clue as to what exactly he does. If he told us, he’d have to kill us, we recite before collapsing on the floor in a giggle fit. If ever we do go to his office (which we stopped after the very first time, when I was around two years old, I think), we’re asked to wait (outside the gate) until my father is informed (after he’s located, that is).
We have our own acronyms for all the departments and wings of the DRDO. And we crack up at our brilliant wit while he quietly asks himself how on earth he survives living with us.

He reasoned that the block must be a preliminary measure and that they’re probably filtering those sites they find offensive. And I had to point out that the very definition of offensive seems to be misconstrued in this case. Like the blog that’s an entire two posts long, written by an American college student. And the bulk sms gateway. Or the naxal news blog that posts stories from mainstream newspapers. So I made a list for him to check out on his own.

I believe that words are enough to intimidate. To outrage. To insult. To empower. And that’s precisely why free speech is necessary. To force someone into silence is a violation and nothing less.

So maybe all our blogs are threatening to the stability of the country. Perhaps my outburst about faulty autorickshaw meters and unfair systems has the government all hot and bothered. Maybe it was when I posted from Orissa about the plight of the adivasis. It could be that telling people what I see during my work in slums is actually top secret. Maybe demanding rehabilitation for communities displaced by development projects makes me anti-development and anti-national. I do remember complaining about my city’s infrastructure once.

Perhaps we’re all under scrutiny. I know they could find more dirt on my blog than poor Princess Kimberly’s.