The Indian blog ban episode of 2006

So it looks like the block on a number of major blog hosts in India was cock-up rather than conspiracy. The story going round is that ISPs misinterpreted requests to block a few individual blogs hosted on generic blogging domains and shut down access to the whole lot.

The coverage (particularly by Boing Boing) made me realise how fragile India’s international progressive brand is. The fact that some people easily believed that the Government would block blogs showed that people don’t see the country as a wholly unrepressive regime. India has sold itself in recent years as being different to China because it doesn’t have to go through the potentially destabilising transition to democracy that China will surely make in the next decade or so. There is, of course, unrest, as the recent bombings in Mumbai have shown, but the Government has always pulled out its democratic card when trying to attract investment or sell Indian services. I think this episode might have tarnished that argument a little.