Chandigarh: The list of banned items seems to be increasing by the day. On Tuesday, the Haryana government announced a ban on the manufacturing and sale of gutka, pan masala, and other similar products which contain tobacco. Such products are now completely banned in the state.
People have mixed reactions on this ban; while some feel that it is a welcome step, there are others who are criticising this move.
Health Minister Anil Vij highlighted that the decision has been taken keeping in view the health of the people.
“The manufacturing, storage, distribution and sale of gutka, pan masala, flavoured or scented tobacco, kharra and other similar products containing tobacco have been completely banned. Other products containing tobacco which are available in market are also included in it,” he said.
The Food and Drugs Administration has issued a notification in this regard. Vij added that the notice prohibited the sale and purchase of tobacco products for one year starting from September 3 in the interest of public health.
The products under this ban includes a mix of other ingredients such as heavy metals and anti-caking agents, the only exception being specifically permitted ingredients, silver leaf, binders, flavours, scents and fragrances.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) has sought response from controversial social media apps TikTok and Helo on a set of questions, ranging from whether the apps are considering storing data within India and what measures they were taking to prevent users below age 18 from getting exposed to potentially dangerous content.
The social media platforms have time till July 22 to reply to the questions or face ban in the country, according to sources.
The notice was sent to the operators of the apps on Wednesday after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) economic wing Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) sent a letter to the Prime Minister, alleging that these social media platforms were being used for anti-national activities.
The IT Ministry asked what data from users in India are being collected by these platforms.
It also sought clarifications on allegations that the Helo app had paid a huge sum for putting 11,000 morphed political ads on other social media platforms.
One particular focus of the questions were around the security of users below age 18. Specifically, it asked what was the rationale behind the minimum age limit (13) to use TikTok in India when “a person below 18 is considered as child in the country”.
TikTok introduced “age gate” to restrict children from using the app. The ministry asked whether this age gate mechanism restricts users below age 18.
In a statement shared with IANS, TikTok said it welcomes the “opportunity to fully collaborate with the government to meet and exceed our obligations”.
“India is one of our strongest markets and we are happy to be part of the mainframe of Digital India in 15 Indian languages,” TikTok said in a statement.
“In line with our commitment to India, we are investing $1 billion in India over the next three years, with a strategic focus on developing technology infrastructure, establishing local partnerships and supporting initiatives such as the Skill India Program which we are proud to be assisting with already,” said the short-video-sharing app owned by Chinese start-up ByteDance.
The operators of TikTok earlier this year agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allegations that the company illegally collected personal information from children.
In April this year, the Madras High Court had passed an interim order banning TikTok citing inappropriate and pornographic content. The ban was subsequently lifted. (IANS)