Ok, this is weird. And ridiculous.
I can’t access any WordPress.com blog from home. Neither can I open up the window for a new post or access any support forums. I’ve cleared the cache and tried different browsers, but no luck. All I can do is log in. If I try to see any WordPress.com blog or access my Dashboard or hit “New Post”, the notification I get is that the server couldn’t be contacted and that I should check my connection. Which I would do if it wasn’t for the fact that I can open any and every other website.
In case you thought the Indian government is attempt to censor my incredibly significant pontifications, it’s not impossible since WordPress.com is in the list of domains from which specific sites/pages have been blocked by the Indian government. Blogspot.com, Typepad.com and Twitter.com are others. These are among the list of 309 that the Indian government believes recently spread rumours about violence and drove people from various states of North East India to flee Bengaluru. (As in, they’re people who were living and working in Bengaluru but list one of the North Eastern Indian states as their “native place”. When there were reports of Muslims being killed in Assam, panic resulted in some parts of India, like in Bengaluru, that revenge would be exacted on those who look like they’re from North East India, thus leading to an exodus.) The reason the government is wagging its finger at social media networking is because a few news websites picked up on this post from Pakistan’s The Tribune. If you’re in India, you probably can’t see that link because it’s among the sites/pages blocked by the Indian government. Despite the fact that it actually points out the truth from the photoshopped and wrongly-captioned photographs. Clearly, there doesn’t really need to be any logic governing the government’s decisions.
The question of whether or not one still has access seems to depend largely upon the ISP. Apparently, Airtel has blocked Youtube.com in its entirety in some cities (Bengaluru, I think, is one of them). If you want a neat analysis of what’s going on with the Indian government and its policy towards the internet, click here. So far, I can access WordPress.com from work, like now. This means a) I do less real work, and b) I don’t really have the time at work to write out stuff like notes from shows and basically anything that requires a modicum of thought. Work is not conducive to thinking. This also means that in all likelihood, the reason I can’t post from home is that the ISP for my home connection (good ole Tata) is judiciously keeping me from posting new posts. A friend of mine who has a Reliance connection was able to open up the “New Post” window without any trouble, which is quite a reversal from when Reliance blocked Vimeo but Tata subscribers were blissfully unaffected. That’ll teach me to feel smug. Meanwhile, the government has just announced that it hasn’t blocked any Twitter accounts, except if you try to see the profiles of any of the blocked Twitter accounts, this line appears:
This site has been blocked as per instructions from Department of Telecom (DOT) .
The red isn’t my touch. That’s the colour chosen by the DoT. Incidentally, I don’t get any such officious announcement for trying to reach this blog, which probably means that I’m not considered a threat to national peace by the government but regardless, Tata and Vodafone think it’s best I don’t hold forth.
A couple of people I follow on Twitter have changed their profile pictures to a black square that has “Emergency 2012″ written on it. Once upon a time, people speechified, published pamphlets, took to the streets, encountered policement and went to jail in their revolutionary fervour. In our times, sending an SMS, updating a status message on Facebook, tweeting and knowing the meaning of things like VPN is badass. The age of the geeks really truly is here.
Given my neanderthal understanding of technology, the government of India’s decision recent tendency to stumble around the internet like Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is worrying. I don’t know how to get past blocks and whatnot. If something isn’t freely accessible, then chances are I won’t be able to access it. This is why I wailed to pretty much anyone who cared to listen that not being able to load the link titled “New Post” felt like being forced to retire. One friend responded with, “So retire. You’ve been blogging forever. Maybe it’s time to stop and, I don’t know, write your novel in the time that you’d waste on the blog.”
I really need to stop hanging around sensible people.
EDITED TO ADD:
Everyone, give Joji Thomas Philip a round of applause for this article in which he not only writes about the blocked websites and Twitter accounts (I believe the government made a statement that no directives had been issued to block any Twitter handles), but he also has scans of the orders issued. The scans list all the objectionable URLs. I’m waiting for some bureaucrat or politician to point out that the directives say that only the specified URLs should be blocked and not “the main website”. So what if certain You Tube videos have been listed because of the comments in them?
Also, having seen there are a few WordPress.com blogs in that list, now I’m certain that Tata is being lazy/overzealous and blocking access to WordPress.com in general. Grr.