Social media came too soon for Indian society; guidelines and awareness must

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Indian society has been extremely proud of its rich cultural heritage, which includes the traditional media, be it the puppetry or Tamasha – a traditional form of theatre, all have one common purpose- to communicate, inform and sensitize the society, which have been extremely impactful for generations. Few groups across the nation are making efforts to preserve such practices, while on the other hand, in keeping up with the modernization and taking full advantage of Information Technology, the mode of communication has turned wireless, faster transformation of ideas using the gadget. Hence, the direct contact of human emotions are missing, but the desired messages can go around the world just with the click of a button.

Indians claim to be adaptable to all cultural practices. The contemporary generation, called Yoyo generation or westernized influenced culture, is making all efforts to break free from the age old traditions and practices that are time tested. This has not only have changed the taste bud towards the hotdog, sandwich and Hamburger, and branded outfits to imported fruits, but an attempt to modernize the style of communication has led to the booming of Silicon Valley or Information Technologies. This drive towards modernization has been pushed further since the formation of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government which launched its flagship programme- Digital India.

The staple food of the West- Hotdog or Burger, is considered as Fastfood, along with the Momo and Noodles, while the traditional chat or samosa are now considered as Junk-food and unhealthy! Traditional wear like the Saree is not allowed at the Disco-club or night club, sandals are not allowed in the Star-hotels or eateries in India. The traditional mode of announcement in the locality, in Khasi known as pyrta-shnong, is now replaced by the Public Announcement system. With the booming of technology, the children are now locked in the four walls of a room, with modern gadgets and video games, whereas open spaces for fresh air games is now considered dangerous!

Coming back to the traditional media, which have made ways for the Internet and social networks, Post Offices across India stand witness to the drastic change, where the popular Post-card, Inland Letter and Money Order, once the main business of the Indian Postal services, are now obsolete. These have been replaced by Whatsapp, FB Messenger, email to video calling and Wire-transfer or e-banking.

The economic status of the Indians has changed drastically. Now the society can afford to import furniture to fixing in the house. While there are many landmark buildings to Palaces across India that have either turned into Museums or Hotels, the middle classes society continues to live in the endangered building which have been declared as unsafe in the congested urban areas. The rural folks, on the other hand, are yet to have electricity supply and drinking water in their huts.

It is the same when it come to the Media scenario which have reversed the aged old Generation gap, where the youth feel the older generation do not understand them. Now, the aged feel insecure with the youth for failing to understand the simple functioning of mobile phone, especially the smart phones. As Indian society at large is getting accustomed to new ways of getting information, moving from Print to New Media, it is already being suffocated with information via social media. Many a times, taking advantage of the ineptness of many to differentiate between genuine and fake news, people with vested interest spread fake news which have harmed the society tremendously.

The Supreme Court has been moved seeking direction to the Centre to frame guidelines and to put in place a statutory regime for curbing fake news and punishing those responsible for authoring and circulating them. The petitioner Anuja Kapur has contended that the unrestricted circulation of fake news on the social media leads to crime against humanity and violation of citizens’ right to fair and factual news and reports.

The petition has listed 12 crimes that include mob lynching, communal riots, breach of peace, tranquility and public order, unlawful assembly, mass hysteria, mob violence, abetment to murder, sedition, influencing of elections and criminal conspiracy that at times take place due to fake news. Kapur has contended that there are no set laws that curb and punish the author of fake news including those promoting it on social media platforms.

There is no accountability, liability and responsibility to restrict or counter fake news by organising press conferences or putting it on the official website of the concerned authorities for the general public to be aware of the facts.

Also, during such tension, every individual in the social network has turned into an expert of Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, while Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, on the pretext that Air space were shut, returned the Indian Pilot via Wagah for the world to view.

After the recent India-Pakistan tension, although Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has returned home, the Media particularly the social media was calling out for War with the Pakistan and above that sensationalizing the event. Fake News on such sensitive issues spreads like wild fire and are extremely dangerous for the Indian society, who are still getting acquainted with the new media.

In order for people to have their right to Privacy and Life, as ensured by the Constitution via Article 19 read with Article 21, the mindset of the masses needs to be sensitized on Media awareness.