From Autonomy to Anonymity: Information Technology Policy and Changing Politics of the Media System in Indian Democracy
Keywords:Media System, India, Autonomy, Anonymity, Technology, Policy
The prominence of information and communications technology (ICTs) in defining India’s media modernity can be gauged by the growing reach of online social media as well as continuing expansion of digital media channels and satellite broadcasting even in the early 21stCentury. Policies concerning information technologies, from telegraph to satellite networks, have also been central to media politics and with the rise of new media, internet related policies have similarly become pivotal to the interaction between the state and media system. Drawing from a comparative media system perspective, this paper argues that while there has been no major constitutional or legal overhaul, as yet, new ideas and information technology policy activism are reshaping the contours of state action and ‘autonomy’ of the press in India’s democracy. Comparing technology debates in an earlier era, when satellite networks swept across the media system, with the more recent deliberations around liabilities for digital intermediaries, the paper unpacks the nature of change and locates its origins in the revival of discursive institutions (Schmidt 2002, 2008) of technology policy since the early 2000s. Technology related ideas, I argue, now serve as institutions, able to function as a ‘coordinating discourse’ (ibid) that have revived ideals of an autonomous media. Technology inflected ideals of ‘anonymity’ also counter the ‘communicative discourse’ (ibid) of Hindutva and cultural nationalist politics of media which framed the issue of autonomy in the ascendant phase of print and electronic media capitalism until the 1990s.
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