Mar 2017 24

National Seminar on Democracy, Dissent and Online Spaces in India

Indian Social Institute, New Delhi

This seminar seeks to explore the challenges for independent media in the digital age. The Internet Democracy Project is participating.

With the expansion of internet access in India, online spaces have become a significant arena for spread of information-sharing, discussions and campaigns on people-centric issues. A number of people’s movements groups have become active online, besides the emergence of portals and social media pages focusing on issues such as freedom of speech, caste, communalism, gender, environment, health, transparency, students movements and people’s resistance. A number of websites and forums critiquing the mainstream media and its biases have also emerged. The challenge before them is to keep up with the technological advancements and incorporate newer forms of content. Aggregation and concerted initiatives to amplify various campaigns without relying on paid services is also a growing need.

On the other hand, huge challenges of corporate and state control in myriad forms facing the online media need to be confronted and resisted. The slicing and compartmentalisation of internet in terms of access, speed and consumer groups is already underway by other means, despite the TRAI’s unequivocal verdict last year against Free Basics, upholding net neutrality. We have also witnessed selective targetting and trolling of progressive web platforms by groups supportive of the ruling dispensation. Social media platforms, video aggregators and search engines have also indulged in such censorship in several cases.

This one-day seminar in Delhi aims to discuss these urgent issues. Besides individuals and groups running alternative online platforms, experts of mainstream, web and social media as well as activists and students would also participate in the discussion.