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India: Defending Freedom of Speech

The Indian Blogosphere has been buzzing over the weekend with posts and comments surrounding a controversial educational institute. Vantage Point, a blog run by Gaurav Sabnis was sent an email by this said institute to remove any posts that questioned the claims of the institute. The original article that inspired posts on blog can be read at JAM Magazine here. One of the driving forces behind this magazine, Rashmi Bansal of Youth Curry was at the receiving end of malicious anonymous comments. Many blogs including Sambhar Mafia and Desi Pundit have been following the developments closely.

A lot of Indian blogs have been echoing this call for support. The latest development has been that Gaurav Sabnis has quit his job with IBM. He says -

…I have resigned from IBM. The decision is entirely my own and I was not asked by IBM to resign, nor was I pressured in any manner by any executive from IBM. I took the decision in view of some really bizarre threats that were apparently made by IIPM to IBM…

In the same post he puts forward a strong case for his previous post and why he stands by what he said in his blog -

…my intention to stand by my posts, since I believe in freedom of speech. I have written nothing that can be thought of as libel. IIPM is an organiation in free India which makes some claims in its advertisements. What I did was exercise my right as a citizen, by responding to the information contained…

This isn't the first instance of Indian bloggers facing the wrath of corporate houses and big organisations, but it brings us back to the same question – In a country whose USP is the Biggest Democracy, where has the Right to Free Speech disappeared? Is it easier to bully a blogger than a magazine or a Main Stream Media publication? Does a blogger have any rights?

  • Patrix

    I hope this issue is taken up by Global Voices and spread throughout the international blogosphere. Limiting freedom of speech in a democratic country is indeed shameful.

  • Pingback: DesiPundit » IIPM Blog Wars Redux

  • http://traveltalesfromindia.blogspot.com/ Mridula

    Kudos to Gaurav and Global Voice Online for giving it coverage.

  • Mike

    Wow! I just checked some of the posts. This institute seems to be hurting it’s own reputation!?! That’s crazy. The best educational institutes didn’t get famous because of foul mouthed students!

    But I guess Asia is all the same. What China and Singapore are doing to their bloggers, I wouldn’t be surprised if your government did the same. Europe and America are so much better for freedom. I mean if ppl have to quit for such small things.. it really is the pits!

  • Patrix

    I hate to admit it but freedom of speech in India (repurcussions, not the law) is not much different from China or Singapore. What pains me more is that we call ourselves the world’s largest democracy when clearly such blatant violations go unnoticed.

  • Shahid

    Ya know Mike maybe right. Think about it. It’ snot like the Indian Government is involved is it? (I didn’t see anything about the Government here) Lenovo and IBM (Figure out the Chinese connection!).

    As the companies become more and more global, they carry their “ideologies” with them. Perhaps a more committed American firm may have backed sabnis? On the other hand, the first person to get duced was an American, wasn’t she?

  • http://www.thoughtfulchaos.com/ Varun

    Thanks for picking up the issue.

  • http://jagan.biz Jagan Mohan

    IIPM have lost their first ever Public Relations fiasco. Their heavy arm twisting of Gaurav and threat tactics will have to simply go.

    Anybody knows Rather Gate? This one is next!

  • Pingback: kaisare.net » Blog Archive » Standing up for ones principles - Gaurav Sabnis vs IIPM

  • Patrix

    FYI, IBM or Lenovo did NOT force Gaurav to quit. He left on his own accord. Let us not blame the wrong people here.

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