Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Internet freedom in India has allowed me to learn globally and to express myself as a social media writer globally since 2011; In China that could not have happened

Note: This post has been copy-pasted from http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2017/12/internet-freedom-in-india-has-allowed.html.

As I have been reading up, viewing up (e.g. I saw the whole video with English translation voice-over of President Xi Jinping's keynote speech at the 19th Communist Party of China Congress held in Beijing in October this year, http://ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/2017/10/19th-communist-party-of-china-congress.html) and thinking about China today in our early 21st century, as an Indian living in India, I have naturally compared it with India today. There have been some extraordinary achievements of China, in economic growth as well as in improving living standards of many hundreds of millions of Chinese, with India's achievements in these areas being significant as well, but significantly lesser than what China has achieved. In particular, I congratulate the Communist Party of China which has ruled China since its founding as a communist country in 1949, for the wonderful, fantastic and heart-warming achievement of raising many hundreds of millions of Chinese from poverty into the middle class, and improving living standards of the Chinese across its vast country.

But one aspect where India is significantly ahead of China is in freedom of individual citizens including freedom of speech. Within this area of freedom, one thing that I myself as an Indian citizen living in India, have enjoyed to the hilt is Internet freedom where I can freely (without being blocked) access payment-free knowledge source websites like wikipedia, payment-free news websites like cnn.com, abcnews.go.com, msnbc.com bbc.com, thehindu.com and timesofindia.indiatimes.com, and their youtube channels, as well as paid-access news websites which have limited free articles per month like nytimes.com and washingtonpost.com. I also am able to freely (without being blocked) access USA govt. websites like whitehouse.gov, and even see live proceedings of the USA Senate on youtube! In the past six years (and even earlier as I used to do significant youtube watching prior to becoming a social media writer), youtube has been for me an extraordinary source of a variety of views and information from across the world (so long as it was expressed in English or Indian languages that I follow) and has contributed in a very big way to my significantly improved knowledge and understanding of various viewpoints as well as information about so many things related to politics, economics, business, science & technology, academia and academic reform possibilities, entertainment, religion, spirituality, ethics and human values etc. in the world.

E-mail services of gmail.com and yahoo.com have been vital for me to communicate with people worldwide. I have enjoyed unfetterred access to these services in India.

Payment-free social media sites like blogger.com, wordpress.com, facebook.com, youtube.com, twitter.com and plus.google.com have been my vital mediums for expression as a social media writer (blogger and Facebook writer mainly), and for reading and viewing articles and videos from others worldwide. My readership/viewership on my social media outlets are very limited :-) as compared to well known social media authors (e.g. bloggers, twitter and Facebook authors). But to me what matters is that I was and am able to express myself and make my views known to anybody in the world who has unfettered access to the Internet, is interested to read my posts and is able to locate my social media posts & pages via Internet search engines or referrals. I must also mention that all my social media writing/authoring work is viewable without any paywall (payment-free) and that I have no financial profit motive whatsoever in this social media writing/authoring work.

Note that while I did write a very few blog posts prior to Aug. 2011 under a pen-name (Gabbar Singh), it was in Aug./Sept. 2011 that I became active on social media (initially under two pen-names of Eklavya Sai and iami1 but later under my own name, Ravi S. Iyer). I felt it appropriate to list below my social media outlets with view or other available/relevant statistics as of today, 5th Dec. 2017:

[Note that some of the view counts listed below may be boosted by referral spam which is not human views but automated program views.]

Spiritual/Religious Websites/Blogs
* About Sri Sathya Sai Baba and more: ravisiyer.blogspot.com - 770 posts; 317,484 views
* God & science conversation and a little more: iami1.wordpress.com - 24 posts; 3,981 views

Software Websites/Blogs
* Indian Computer Science (CS) & Information Technology (IT) Academic Reform Activism: eklavyasai.blogspot.com - 170 posts; 33,316 views
* Course material related to computer programming (software lab.) courses: raviiyerteaches.wordpress.com - 35 posts; 2,006 views

Misc. Topics Blogs
ravisiyermisc.blogspot.com - 530 posts; 74,455 views
ravisiyer.wordpress.com - 84 posts; 7,903 views

Facebook: facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7 - Over 700 Facebook friends and followers
Youtube: youtube.com/user/riyer02 - 159 subscribers, 4 videos uploaded with 28,409 views [I have playlists of videos of others, which (playlists) also would be accessible to subscribers.]

[I use twitter and Google+ mainly to link to my new posts, and sometimes to retweet tweets of others.]
Twitter:  twitter.com/RaviSaiIyer - 43 followers
Google+:  google.com/+RaviSIyerSai - 37 followers
--- end my social media links and stats ---

I find my social media writing/authoring experience from Aug./Sept. 2011 onwards to be very satisfying. It is a primary activity of mine over the past 6 years. I have been able to share my views with others worldwide (USA, many European countries, many other Asian countries, Australia, Canada, some African countries and some South American countries) and also get some of their comments on my views. But I don't recall any interaction from a Chinese citizen on my above social media pages/links. Of course, I have gained enormously from being able to view Internet websites mentioned earlier in this article having views of people in USA, Europe, other Asian countries (including China via its English language perhaps government owned and/or tightly regulated outlets), Canada, Australia, and some African and South American countries.

I realize that I was able to do all this Internet and social media activity in an effective way because of the largely unfettered Internet access that I got from a rural town in India - Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh state. Note that sometime in 2014/2015 the Indian govt., perhaps in an effort to stop bad actors from using the Internet to harm India, banned many sites which included good actors too. But that was rolled back quickly. Perhaps the problems with such blanket banning was made known to the govt. authorities at which time they rolled it back. Barring this short period of a month or two perhaps where I did face some intermittent problems in accessing some well known websites (e.g github.com and vimeo.com), I have never faced any blocking problem of well known and mainstream international websites and social media websites. In particular, as far as I can recall, I have never got blocked from viewing wikipedia or international news media sites like cnn.com or nytimes.com.

But what if I were in a rural town in mainland China in this period from Aug./Sept. 2011 to now? Would I have had such unfettered access to the websites I have mentioned in this post? Would I have been able to author social media posts in Blogger and Wordpress? Would I have been able to author posts on Facebook?

http://www.saporedicina.com/english/list-of-blocked-websites-in-china/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Websites_blocked_in_mainland_China tell us that almost all the websites I mentioned above, especially social media and news related, are blocked in mainland China! Note that the wiki page mentions as a clarification, "Note that many of the sites listed may be occasionally or even regularly available, depending on the access location or current events."

Let that sink in! The sites blocked include: Blogger (and Blogspot), Wordpress, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, New York Times (nytimes.com) and many pages of Wikipedia! So, if I had been living in mainland China from Aug./Sept. 2011 to now, neither would I have been able to read and view these vital sources of knowledge and information, nor would I have been able to author posts on the international social media websites I use now which have an international audience. Hmm. What a horrific limitation and constraint that would have been on me!

Now the Chinese have their own websites which provide facilities similar to social media websites like Blogger, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter etc. and may have their own knowledge source websites on the Internet similar to wikipedia. WeChat, RenRen, Weibo, Baidu etc. are famous such social media and web services websites/companies in China. So (if I were living in mainland China) I would have been able to consume ***censored or controlled*** knowledge and information from these Chinese websites and express myself via posts authored by me ***which did not offend Chinese authorities*** in the Chinese social media sites. I guess that I may have had some readership and interactions from others on the Internet in mainland China but I may have had very limited or no readership and interactions with the people on the Internet outside of China!

To put it in a nutshell, if I were living in mainland China from Aug/Sept 2011 to now, I would not have been a global consumer of knowledge and information, and a social media writer whose writings were accessible globally! Hmm. That would have been very, very sad for me. So I am very deeply grateful to democratic Indian government institutions and various democratic governments that ruled India at the union/federal and state levels during my lifetime so far (I was born in free and democratic India in 1962), that have enabled me to enrich myself with knowledge and information from global sources on the Internet and also share my views on various matters freely (without constraints) on the Internet which is accessible to anybody living in countries which provide Internet freedom to its citizens/residents. I also feel it appropriate to express my gratitude to all the scientists, technologists, Internet content creators and business innovators in the USA (special mention is needed of USA due to its massive contribution here) as well as other countries in the world, including India, who have contributed to the creation and widespread use of this wonderful and revolutionary force of the Internet.

1 comment:

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