As the state government struggles to implement its ban on Social Media in a limited territory, the state curb order raises a few questions. In the first place the ban goes against human spirit, its political and strategic objectives notwithstanding. Anything against the human spirit is bound to not work ultimately. But apart from the one limited aspect, that of the administration’s inability or lack of technical expertise for affecting the ban, it could be asked as to whose domain telecommunications is.
Under the constitutional arrangement between Jammu & Kashmir and the Indian Union, communications is a subject with New Delhi. So, the first question is who had the authority to announce or impose the ban? Secondly, if it is not in the state government’s domain, who should implement it, and would the local administration have the capability to affect it, or was it expected to have it in the first place. Should it have asked India’s Department of Telecommunications for technically operationalising the ban?
One would have assumed that a ban on any internet based service was decided and announced only after all means of affecting it were ensured in place. Without that, like appears the case to be, it means an empty threat. Or, could it be, as sections of the commentariate are already surmising, that the ban was not actually meant to be for the purposes it was announced for. This kind of a ban in the times we are living was most obviously going to portray New Delhi in bad light globally, as has been the case. Within a formal paradigm, New Delhi could turn around and say that banning Social Media was the local government’s decision and thus make the chief minister a ‘scapegoat’.
This raises another question then; was the state government brought under pressure to affect such a hugely unpopular step that has undoubtedly portrayed New Delhi in bad light and ended the Prime Minister’s Digital India push at Jawahar Tunnel. Even as in the international parlance the local administration is Indian government’s extension, this ban delivers a blow to the chief minister and her party, the PDP.
The biggest question though is, even from her government’s own perspective, how did the need to ban social media arise when it was already habituated to banning internet service altogether and restrict mainstream media as well. It appears the line between state and Union domains is at best a mobile blur no one in the local establishment can have a fix on. Would New Delhi ever question the local administration’s authority to impose a ban like this? If not, should the DoT stepped in to help the administration technically implement the tattered ban?