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Day 21 – Q 3. What are your views on the recent decision by the government to ban Chinese apps? Is it mere symbolism? Substantiate your views. 

  • IASbaba
  • July 3, 2020
  • 0
GS 3, Sci & Technology, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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3. What are your views on the recent decision by the government to ban Chinese apps? Is it mere symbolism? Substantiate your views. 

चीनी ऐप पर प्रतिबंध लगाने के सरकार द्वारा हाल के फैसले पर आपके विचार क्या हैं? क्या यह केवल प्रतीकवाद है? अपने विचारों की पुष्टि करें।

Demand of the question:

It expects students to express their views on the recent decision by the government to ban Chinese apps. The question also demands from students to analyse the decision in the light of symbolism with substantiation.

Introduction:

In view of the emergent nature of threats, Government of India banned 59 Chinese apps under section 69A of the Information Technology Act in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.

Body:

The move comes as an exercise of coercive diplomacy with China amid the tense standoff in Ladakh which caused martyrdom of 20 Indian soldiers and huge public resentment by Indian masses.

The banning of Chinese apps can be called a strategic move or ‘digital strike’ because:

  • It could serve as a warning to China and its bigger government controlled businesses in India
  • It rallies masses of India against the provocation and shows a united front against aggressor nation to hold them accountable for their misadventures 
  • The Ministry of Information and Technology (Meity) claimed reports and complaints on misuse of some mobile apps, breach of privacy and data theft. 
  • The move aims to enable data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. 
  • The apps can be used to monitor movements of Indian troops and stealing of strategic information.
  • The ban aligns with a strong public demand to take strict action against Apps that harm India’s sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens. 
  • Hurt Chinese apps customer base and revenue, e.g.: TikTok app has over 100 million active users in the India (30% of their global customers)
  • The Indian app market is growing in quantity and quality. Internet costs here are one of the lowest in the world, and consumers number over 800 million. This may encourage Indian alternatives in the app space
  • The move is in-line with ‘Atma Nirbhar’ and ‘Vocal for Local’ initiative.
  • A ban on physical goods would have also adversely affected India’s business and economy while hardly making a dent on China’s. The move is thus being seen as one that could be more effective.
  • Huge data generated will help India’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) initiatives and Digital India prospects.
  • It will help diffuse tensions peacefully without escalating the issues between nuclear capable rivals.  

However, this move looks mere symbolism because:

  • Resolving complex border issues will need efficient diplomacy and better preparedness in border region. App ban cannot replace these crucial necessities.
  • India’s trade deficit with China in around $52 billion, mere app ban cannot bridge the deficit gap. 
  • It will hamper income source of many Indians as most of these platforms have Indian creators and offices in India. Thus it also hurts common Indians.
  • Without clear cut policy Indian app developers cannot fill the void created by the ban.
  • India’s high dependence on procured weapons need urgent indigenisation of military equipment.
  • Reactionary approach and long neglect of basic border infrastructure cannot be covered with app ban.
  • Need of sustained demand for Indian goods will require effective preference change of citizens.
  • The inefficiencies in Indian market like inverted duty structure, complex procedures-approvals, etc. that prevents Indian goods from being competitive with Chinese goods need more than just app bans.

Government has taken steps to sustain the intent behind app ban:

  • ‘Look East’ to ‘Act East Policy’ by improving relations with ASEAN and countries like South Korea and Japan.
  • 20 lakh crore package with substantial benefits to MSMEs.
  •  ‘Quad initiative’ – India, Japan, Australia and the US  to cooperate economically, militarily and strategically for free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region that serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large
  • Modernizing India’s Armed Forces Power: Efficient and speedy procurements e.g.: Raffale, Mig-21, Apache Helicopters; Focus on technology sharing and encouraging Indigenous production of military equipment e.g.: Tejas, Brahmos.
  • Rallying likeminded nations against China at global forums like G7, United Nations, etc.

Conclusion:

So, app ban though seems symbolic in nature but the intent behind the ban to deal with unilateral provocation strongly sends a strong message to rivals and global community about India’s determination to safeguard its sovereignty and its preference to peaceful means to resolve conflicts.

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