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Internet Was Shutdown in India 11 Times More Than Pakistan

The economic loss due to 12,615 hours of mobile Internet shutdown in India stood at Rs 16,590 crore, whereas Rs 4,746 crore was lost to 3,700 hours of mobile and fixed-line blackout.

Mayank Mohanti | News18.com

Updated:August 30, 2018, 11:28 AM IST
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Internet Was Shutdown in India 11 Times More Than Pakistan
The economic loss due to 12,615 hours of mobile Internet shutdown in India stood at Rs 16,590 crore, whereas Rs 4,746 crore was lost to 3,700 hours of mobile and fixed-line blackout.

New Delhi: India recorded an overwhelming 208 instances of internet shutdown over the last three years. This is almost 11 times more than internet blackout in Pakistan and 26 times than war-torn Syria and Iraq, according to data from Access Now, a non-profit human rights group dedicated to an open and free Internet, measured between January 2016 and May 2018.

Internet shutdowns are considered preemptive or reactive measure to control the spread of violence or potential civilian clashes. Critics, however, see switching the internet’s “off switch” as a government measure to curb dissent and freedom of expression.

According to the Internet Shutdowns database, Jammu and Kashmir witnessed a maximum 98 instances of internet blackout over the last 7 years, mainly in Kashmir valley amid fears of protests and as precautionary measure to maintain law and order in the region. 70 of these internet gags were recorded since 2016.

Gujarat incurred the maximum losses due to internet shutdown between 2012 and 2017. Prime minister’s home state suffered losses of about Rs 8,300 crore due to ban on mobile internet and SMS service. The GDP reduced by 0.2 per cent and 0.1 per cenr in Surat and Ahmedabad, respectively.

According to a report published by Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), one of India’s leading think tank, a total of 138 instances of internet shutdown were recorded over the six years till 2017 that cost India Rs 21,336 cr—a loss that is 7 times the budget of Ayushman Bharat: a scheme that is deemed to be the “world’s largest government-funded health care programme”.

The economic loss due to the 12,615 hours of mobile Internet shutdowns in India stood at Rs 16,590 crore, whereas Rs 4,746 crore was lost to 3,700 hours of mobile and fixed-line blackout, the report said, adding that tourism, IT, press and news media and e-commerce sectors were heavily impacted.

Meanwhile, the Rajasthan government has suspended internet services on multiple occasions this year on pretext of preventing cheating during government recruitment examinations. Arunachal Pradesh and Gujarat followed the suit.

In the summer of 2017, Darjeeling in West Bengal faced a 45-day Internet shutdown owing to protest demonstrations from activists seeking a separate state. Nawada in Bihar was locked without internet for 40 days after communal clashes.

These clampdown and suspension on internet services comes at a time when the government is promoting the development of the internet and digital infrastructure through its Digital India initiative.

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