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10 major bans (including porn) bound to take down the Modi empire

Durga M Sengupta | Updated on: 3 August 2015, 23:35 IST

Ban, ban, ban. Because they can, can, can. The BJP government appears to have given us the start to a long, ranting poem this lovely August day.

In a double whammy on 3 August, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan cracked down on the Opposition (read: Congress) by banning 25 members for disorder for five days, and the DoT banned 857 porn sites on the grounds of breaching 'morality and decency'.

In the first case, the Speaker claimed the members were "persistently, wilfully obstructing the house" and suspended them for five days invoking 374(A). Congress President and Vice-President Sonia and Rahul Gandhi were visibly angry. Sonia Gandhi kept it short when she said, "Today is a black day for democracy".

Following this, the entire Opposition, including Congress, NCP, TMC and AAP, decided to boycott the Lok Sabha over the Speaker's decision. Meanwhile, #BlackDayForIndianDemocracy started trending on Twitter.

The other case, of course, is a lot more personal for Indian citizens. While the Supreme Court clearly did not ban porn, respecting adult choices, the Modi government did so overnight.

"We have written to the ISPs (internet service providers) to restrict free and open access to 857 websites. This direction is based on the observations made by the honourable Supreme Court on 10 July and using section 79 (3b) of the IT Act read with Article 19 (2) of the Indian constitution," NN Kaul, Telecom Ministry spokesperson said to justify the block, quoted by Huffington Post.

But has the government forgotten the voting population of India? This has not been the first time the Centre has banned something almost arbitrarily.

Here's a quick look at the 10 (including the two mentioned above) bans that are potentially Shakespearean tragic moves for the Modi government.

3. Unfreedom/India's Daughter

Two entirely different films - one a documentary on a rape victim, and the other on the taboo subject of lesbian love in India - with a similar goal. They were both outsider perspectives of India that the government didn't think average Indians could watch. So they were banned.

4. 50 Shades of Grey/Dirty Politics

A Hollywood flick on BDSM and a Bollywood film on Indian politics, both squarely mainstream. One got banned because of too much sex, the other got banned because of too many recognisable characters.

5. Maggi

You can't really blame the government for this because Nestle India is answerable for the apparent lead and added MSG in the instant noodles. However, Maggi will be remembered as one of the key players during the Year of Bans.

6. Beef

Perhaps the most delectable of all bans, both for taste and the controversy around it, #beefban divided the whole country on the beef-loving, cow-worshipping line.

7. Swear words

Not many people know that CBFC stands for Central Board of Film Certification. They assume it's the Censor Board, and with good reason. After Leela Samson quit as chief over the row over the film MSG-Messenger of God (a movie that was NOT banned), Pahlaj Nihalani, a BJP-lover as he admitted himself, stepped in. While there is a dispute over who banned swear words - the UPA or the current government - you can't forget how words like 'lesbian' and 'saala' have been muted out of certain films lately.

8. The ban on 32 websites including Vimeo, Dailymotion

Remember how in late December 2014, you couldn't watch Vimeo videos or access Github because the government had banned them? DoT did remove the ban later. But that didn't stop the Twitterati from trending #GOIblocks

9. Greenpeace and other NGOs

The Modi government has made its displeasure with Greenpeace India quite clear. The two have been at loggerheads since the Priya Pillai offloading case. That's not all: the government also banned funding for 69 NGOs, of which 30 worked for minorities.

10. App-based taxi services

Is Ola banned right now? Is Uber back? These are questions often heard in the country's metropolitan cities. After every case of reported crime that occurs in a cab, the government resorts to a knee jerk solution - ban them.

As Twitter puts it, what's the #NextBanIdea?

First published: 3 August 2015, 23:35 IST
 
Durga M Sengupta @the_bongrel

Feminist and culturally displaced, Durga tries her best to live up to her overpowering name. She speaks four languages, by default, and has an unhealthy love for cheesy foods. Assistant Editor at Catch, Durga hopes to bring in a focus on gender politics and the role in plays in all our interactions.

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