On 29th June 2020, the Indian government issued a ban on 59 Chinese Apps including, TikTok, WeChat, Xender, ShareIt, LIKEE, Helo, and CamScanner among others.
This ban has been implemented after a deadly clash between the militaries of both the countries that left twenty Indian soldiers dead. Satellite images also show that China has built new structures near the border region.
The Ministry Of Information And Technology, has stated that, “ it has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps… for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.. Since this ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures”
But it raises concerns beyond stealing of Users’ data. If Users’ data being safe was the only concern then why didn’t they ban the Zoom App – An app founded by Chinese-American billionaire, Eric Yuan. Despite being accused of stealing data and various privacy concerns, numerous times, all the app has been given are mere warnings. An Article on News18, says that since Zoom is an American company, located in California, it wasn’t banned.
But doesn’t it go against the statements given by the Ministry Of Information and Technology, which basically said, that they banned the apps because users’ data was being ‘misused’ ?
It proves that the ‘ban’ was supposed to be a “fitting” reply to China, as border tensions escalated, and wasn’t just a security concern.
Which brings us to two questions :
- Was India in a position to Ban Chinese Apps?
Most of the apps banned were highly popular in India. Topping the list was TikTok with over 100 million users just in India.
While many “TikTok stars” used the app to earn a living, there were several others who just liked having access to make content.
What made TikTok connect to its users was the fact that how easy it was to handle and to make content, which is why people who couldn’t create content on other platforms like YouTube because of the complications and the investments, could easily create content here.
TikTok really seemed to connect with the Indian Youth because many still are accessing it via VPNs.
While companies like Panda VPN are even advertising the fact that you can access all the banned apps via using them.
Many teens are trying to make apps to access TikTok without VPNs and they are very confidently posting their videos on social media.
The fact that people can still access these apps through VPNs while Chinese investors continue to profit off our people, shows how this ban was nothing more than ”a symbolic ban’.
The ban wouldn’t harm the Chinese as much as it will harm us.
Most of these apps had Indian Creators for whom this was their only source of income. Not to mention, many of these apps have offices and employees in India, whose jobs are at stake.
With the rising unemployment, and the falling GDP, was it really necessary to put thousands of jobs and lives at risk, in the middle of a pandemic? Was symbolism really this important?
2. Is banning Chinese Apps enough ?
“Tokenism does not change stereotypes of social systems but works to preserve them, since it dulls the revolutionary impulse.”
– Mary Daly
A week ago, we were furious at our government, for the border situation with both China, and Nepal.
And for once, we expected the Modi government to do something. Because isn’t that what they have been flexing about all those years, with the Balakot Airstrike, or the Surgical Strike? A nation with Strong Military strength?
Instead, we were deceived by various media houses, and our government, who mentioned for weeks that there are no border tensions between India and China.
Instead, we were met with disappointment, as the Prime Minister himself turned his back on us, when he released a public statement saying that there has been “no Chinese intrusion” into our territory. That statement was used by the Chinese Government to shake off any responsibility about the death of twenty Indian soldiers.
Soon after receiving heavy backlash, the government released a statement that practically said “The Prime Minister didn’t mean what you thought he meant”. The video which was available on YouTube was of course edited, and the part where Mr. Modi said how there were no Chinese Intrusions was removed. Channels like AajTak, blamed the army, instead of the government.
I wish it stopped here, but it didn’t. Our government said almost 43 Chinese soldiers were killed or injured, to satisfy India’s collective blood-thirst, when no such number was revealed or verified from the other side. Which makes me wonder if soldiers are just numbers for this country?
Like in a game of Chess, you just count the number of pieces you killed of your opponent. And if it’s more than the number of pieces he killed, then you’re satisfied.
I wonder if our soldiers are nothing more than Chess Pieces to us.
I wonder if their death will ever mean something more than ‘revenge’.
The government also said that no Indian Soldiers were captured.
The next day though, China released 10 of our soldiers.
I wonder how the government would have explained the disappearances of these ten soldiers to their families had they not been released by the Chinese Government.
How do we trust a government that has deceived us at every given turn? How do we trust a government that takes the Army’s credit after a Surgical Strike to increase their polling numbers, but blames the Army for their failures?
And after all this, they decided to temporarily ban some Chinese apps.
I wonder why AliBaba wasn’t banned, or PUBG which is backed by Tencent?
As you might already have guessed, AliBaba is one of the biggest investors in the Indian market, and so is Tencent.
The act of banning Chinese Apps was nothing more than Tokenism. But look how well it has worked, no one is blaming the government for literally anything anymore. Not the diesel-petrol price hike. Not even the lack of response to China.
At the end of the day, you just have to ask yourself this, “has this all happened before”?
Have the bans happened before? In a different or similar context? With a different or same nation?
And if your answer is yes, I have a question for you. “When has it changed anything but our opinions?”
– Aanandita Singh
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