From Autonomy to Anonymity: Information Technology Policy and Changing Politics of the Media System in Indian Democracy


  • Aasim Khan Visiting Professor, IIIT Delhi PhD Candidate, King's College London



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.

Author Biography

Aasim Khan, Visiting Professor, IIIT Delhi PhD Candidate, King's College London

Aasim Khan is a social scientist with an interest in theories of the ‘public sphere,’ digital citizenship and civic media in India. He is also pursuing doctoral research at King’s College London and his thesis focussed on the sociology and politics of communications related rights in India and the impact of the internet. Aasim did his MA from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London and also completed MA in Mass Communications from AJK MCRC Jamia Millia Islamia. He did his B.Sc. from St. Stephen’s College in Delhi. Aasim also has over five year work experience as a broadcast journalist and development communciations professional in South Asia and the UK.


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How to Cite

Khan, A. (2019) “From Autonomy to Anonymity: Information Technology Policy and Changing Politics of the Media System in Indian Democracy”, Culture Unbound, 10(3), pp. 405–425. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.2018103405.



Critical Explorations of Media Modernity in India