Union Telecom and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal today ruled out any plan to censor social media, but said the companies need to obey the law of the land.
Kapil Sibal. flie pic
The comments came in the backdrop of a Delhi court's order asking social and networking media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google etc to remove objectionable contents. The court's order had come after Sibal had taken some measures to rein in social media organisations from hurting religious sentiments.
"No government in the country will ever censor social media. But we need to make sure that everybody obeys the laws of the country. If the print media and visual media obey the laws, the social media can also obey the laws," Sibal told the Nasscom Leadership Summit that got underway here this morning.
"I want to say once and for all, without any obfuscation, no government in India will ever censor social media," he further said. After a local Delhi court early this month warned of crackdown against the social media sites if they fail to take steps to protect religious sensibilities, Internet giants Google and Facebook removed the offensive contents from their India websites.
Sibal also said the government would set up a fund worth Rs 1,000 crore as part of its electronics devices manufacturing policy envisaging creation of over 200 electronics clusters with a 10-year stable tax regime as incentive for it. He said the government will shortly enact a law to encourage electronics hardware manufacturing.
The minister also informed that the government proposes to clear an Electronic Service Delivery Bill that will mandate all government organisations to deliver public services through the electronic mode. According to the draft Bill, the public services delivered through the electronic mode will include receipt of forms and applications, issue of any licences, permits, certificates, or approvals and the receipt or payment of money. It also proposes a five-year time-frame for transitioning to the e-delivery mode.
The cut-off date is extendable by up to another three years. Within 180 days of the proposed law coming into effect, government agencies will have to list public services that are to be delivered through the electronic mode and also indicate the timeline for e-enabling each of these services. It is also expected to outline the framework for grievance redressal mechanism in case of user complaints.
"The IT sector, achieving USD 100 billion over the last two decades is not a small task. I consider IT to be the ubiquitous sector not just for our economy, but also for the global economy. It impacts every sector of the economy," Sibal said. Noting that the IT sector helps the services economy, as well as manufacturing and agricultural sectors, besides improving the lives of citizens, he said it is the backbone of any transformative economy especially in the context of the current century.
"IT is getting into manufacturing in a big way. It is going to change the agricultural sector and also change the way the government will function," he said. He also assured global investors that the government is "committed" to creating an enabling environment to ensure that the IT sector grows and that the sector is allowed to nurture "geniuses", and create solutions for not just the country but other economies as well.
"In India, I do not see any part of the economy, which will not be touched by the IT industry. It is in this context that we need to give global investors a clear message that the policies are going to be clear. Policies will be such that there will not be any hiccups and an assurance that you can invest here with the clear objective of making profits and provide inclusive growth that we talk about," he said.