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India Shuts Down Social Media in Indian Kashmir to control widening Street protests and growing Violence in the Region

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Kashmiri students browse the internet on their mobile phones as they sits inside a restaurant in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, April 26, 2017. On Wednesday, authorities ordered internet service providers to block 16 social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, and popular online chat applications for one month "in the interest of maintenance of public order." VOA
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Indian authorities hope sweeping restrictions placed on social media in Indian Kashmir will help control widening street protests and growing violence in the region. But observers say the latest order will do little to stem growing alienation in the restive Himalayan region.

Authorities have shut down 22 social media sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter for a month. The official order asking internet service providers to block the sites said they are being used by “anti-national and subversive elements” for “vitiating peace and tranquility” in the state.

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Kashmir has often faced restrictions on the internet, and even mobile phone services have been shut at times. But the latest clampdown is much wider in its scope and comes as social media begins to play a larger role in an increasingly volatile situation in India’s only Muslim-majority region.

Viral videos

In the past three weeks, graphic videos claiming to show abuses by security forces have gone viral. The one getting the most attention shows a young man strapped to the front of an army jeep and paraded around villages in the region.

School and college students have emerged on the streets for the first time to join mobs throwing stones at security forces, and earlier this month, eight people were killed in a violence-marred parliamentary election.

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Officials say social media is not just being used to spread images, but also to rally crowds that attack security forces. A police officer in Kashmir, who did not want to be quoted, said the order will help check the spread of rumors.

Adding to the anger

However banning social media will do little to address the rising tide of anti-India sentiment, said Shujaat Bukhari, editor of the Rising Kashmir newspaper in Srinagar.

“If there is so much of anger, it actually adds to that anger, it does not help to recede (quell) that anger,” he said.

Pointing to the presence of students in street protests, he said, “Every section of society has now got involved into that churning where people think that they don’t have any allegiance to India, and they don’t like the country.”

Kashmiri students and other protesters throw stones at an Indian police vehicle as they clash with police in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, April 24, 2017.
Kashmiri students and other protesters throw stones at an Indian police vehicle as they clash with police in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, April 24, 2017. VOA

More than a decade of relative peace began deteriorating last summer in Kashmir after security forces killed local militant leader Burhan Wani. Analysts say this summer promises to be no different.

Colleges and schools in Kashmir have been shut for more than a week as India tries to quell the near daily protests.

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On Thursday, three Indian soldiers died and five others were injured in a pre-dawn attack on an army camp by militants in Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Two militants were also killed.

Delhi takes a hard line

Earlier this week, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, visited New Delhi and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open dialogue to contain the deteriorating situation in the state. She told reporters he wanted to hold talks after the situation normalizes.

Analysts say the Hindu nationalist federal government appears to be taking a hard line against the protesters.

Bukhari said the problem in Kashmir is larger than a social media problem.

“It is a political problem,” he said, “and as long as you continue to remain in denial mode like this and do not do anything political, these measures will not get you anywhere.” (VOA)

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Can The ‘Internet’ Replace Television And Newspaper In India?

Even though digital media’s fast-paced and aggressive growth, it is unlikely that it will surpass the television anytime soon

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digital media
According to Google, the internet consisted of 5 Million Terabytes of Data way back in 2010. Pixabay

On the basis of advertisement

In India, as the pattern goes, traditional media (TV and print) are on the top in terms of advertisement. However, in the past decade, the media industry has overseen an aggressive growth of the digital media. In the span of just two years (2010-2012), the internet has overpowered the radio and OOH. Digital media does stay far behind the two giants (television and print) but has been successful in maintaining its growth rate at around 30% until 2014. The growth rate decreased between 2014-2017, but the ‘aggressive growth’ is still sustained.

In 2018, television advertising is expected to grow by 9%, radio 10% and print, cinema, and OOH at 5% each respectively. India will be a leading digital market as internet advertising will grow at 20.4% and it will account for 15.4% market share in the country by 2020. It is however estimated that television will still be the largest media comprising the market share of 39%.

digital media
A recent Samsung survey found that it isn’t reality TV or soaps that make us most likely to tune in but documentaries, with 41% claiming it is their favorite TV genre. Pixabay

ALSO READ: A doctor’s take on impact of Social Media

On the basis of consumption

An average Indian adult spends about two-and-a-half hours per day on traditional media (which includes television, radio, and print). On the other hand, the consumption of digital media is one hour per day on average. The reasons range from the poor infrastructure of digital media and its poor circulation or access to the rural population since they recently came into the circuit.

In 2016, the time spent on Television accounted for 56.4% of the total time spent on media consumption. Time spent on print was 7.9%, and radio accounted for 5.3%.

In 2017, adults spent an average time of 1 hour and 18 minutes daily with digital media. Adult’s average time spent per day with digital media grew by 14.4% this year, due to the newly gained access of the rural population to the internet. However, digital media still comes to the second place in contrast to television, on which 2 hours 11 minutes of daily time is spent.

In 2018, it is estimated, Television will account for 52.1% of the time and Digital for 35.9%, while print and radio will decrease to 6.9% and 5.1% respectively.

digital media
Oldest existing newspaper: “Bombay Samachar” – Gujarati daily – published from Mumbai since 1822. Pixabay

ALSO READ: Dark side of Social Media: Is opinion formation on Facebook, Twitter governed by propaganda?

Conclusion

We have witnessed a decline in the market share of print, radio and OOH. Though radio is increasing by 10% due to improved infrastructure, it still lags behind Digital Media. It is estimated that print will too, lag behind Digital media in the coming time. Hence, it will a competition between television and digital media in future.

Even though digital media’s fast-paced and aggressive growth, it is unlikely that it will surpass the television anytime soon.