Frederick Noronha on Blogger Certification in India

Indian Journalist Frederick Noronha has shared an article with us about speculation that the Indian government might start accrediting bloggers. Thanks, Frederick!


From Frederick Noronha

GOA, India, May 23: Bloggers might wait for official recognition elsewhere in the globe, but not so in India, it would seem. Unexpected hints from the federal government at New Delhi, raising the possibility of the carrot of official recognition for bloggers, drew a quick ‘no’.

Indian blogging is still in its infancy, though this trend of social software is now increasingly being reported on in the mainstream media. Probably slow access to the Net, in most places outside the big cities, is the main culprit here. But blogging was in the news in a big way recently, when a prominent media-related blog shut shop after receiving a defamation notice from one of the biggest newspaper chains in India, The Times of India Group. Media review journal ‘Critique’, which is published from Nagpur in central India, came out promptly with a cover-story titled ‘Journos V/s Bloggers; Do they really need to fight?’

A report in the mainstream economic newspaper Economic Times came out with the story titled, somewhat misleadingly, “Bloggers, get ready for gov(ernmen)t jobs!”

This article suggested that “India is in the process of framing rules for granting accreditation to internet journalists and bloggers for the first time, taking a reality check on an evolving world of net writers who could shape opinion and who have already been granted access to official corridors in countries such as the US.” Senior former engineer-turned-journalist Vickram Crishna and campaigner for democratisation of the radio airwaves, was quick to reply. In a post to the BytesForAll site, he gave his well-argued reasons on why this could well be a Trojan horse, in a country where subtle media control have long been effectived practiced.

Mumbai-based Crishna wrote: “With due respect, I entirely disagree. Looking for ‘accreditation’ is like going to the vegetable market to buy meat. A large part of the value for society is the fact that bloggers are independent citizens, who do not ask for favours from anyone in order to provide an instant and ‘ordinary persons’ viewpoint of the world.”

Crishna added: “The attempt by government to pull blogging into the ‘mainstream’ is either merely a misplaced but well meant intention, or worse, an attempt to regulate through ‘recognition’. To quote from the complete article mentioned above, “According to Indian officials, blogs are becoming a political statement in many other countries — such as in the US and British elections — and India needs to prepare for such a situation” and again, “The idea is to sequester the genuine from the fraud and acknowledge those who really want to make a difference. They will be given facilities and better access through accreditation.”

Dina Mehta in her Conversations with Dina blog made a similar point. She said: “On the one hand i am happy that bloggers are being taken seriously, on the other, many questions and some fear running through my mind …. Do bloggers want this accredition by the government? Do they need it? What benefits? At what cost? Will we lose our freedom of speech? Is this license or protection or regulation of sorts? Will they become mouthpieces for the Government? Will it create competition among Indian Bloggers, in a mad rush for press passes, where camaraderie and collaboration exists today?”

Blogs in India have gained credibility for their role played in coping with the December 26, 2004 tsunami across Asia. Another interesting overview of blogging in India is here.

Rajesh Jain, one of India's most prominent bloggers who runs recently put out tips to help people to start blogging.

One good place to look up for Indian blogs is India.Blogstreet.Com's Top 100.

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