Internet Ban Is Not The Solution To The Problem

In recent days, the internet was also shut down in the ongoing protests against agricultural laws. At the same time, the internet was also closed on the day of all kinds of recruitment examinations in Rajasthan. According to digital rights organizations, internet shutdown is a kind of human rights violation. Shutting down the internet is like shutting down people’s daily routines completely. In such a situation, it is necessary that the governments should at least stop it.

Pro. Rakesh Goswami
(Regional Director, Indian Institute of Mass Communication – Jammu)

In Rajasthan, mobile internet was stopped twice in several districts last month. In order to prevent cheating and put an end to rumours, the recipe of netbandi was tried from 6 am to 6 pm on 23rd and 24th October in the first Patwari recruitment examination. Then the NET was closed for the Rajasthan Administrative Service Preliminary Examination. Internet was also shut down during REET exam in September before Patwari exam. Just as arrangements were made for the Patwari exam, more or less the same was done for REET. Despite arrangements like search before entering the examination center, metal detector check, CCTV at suspicious centers and prohibition of carrying any equipment or inappropriate material in the centre, disturbances were found in 9 districts and paper was also leaked at some places. So far 20 people have been arrested in the case and 10 government officials and employees have been suspended.

Netbandi is not a new thing to check the problem of copying and paper leaks in the recruitment examinations of government jobs. Many states adopt this trick. Despite this, the paper gets leaked. The problem of paper leaks is serious. In February this year, during the Common Entrance Examination (CEE) conducted for the recruitment of general duty soldiers in the Indian Army, the examination was canceled due to paper leak and two majors were arrested for rigging. At the same time, the news of paper leak also came to light in Uttar Pradesh Subordinate Services Selection Board’s Preliminary Eligibility Test (PET) held in August 2021 in Uttar Pradesh.

Actually, the problem of unemployment in India is so huge that lakhs of youth are stuck in any recruitment and they are ready to go to any extent to be successful in recruitment. There was a time when youth were less attracted towards government jobs. The salary and facilities were more in the private sector, but after the 7th Pay Commission, when the salary increased and the jobs started going fast in the private sector, the youth turned towards the government job. Obviously in every recruitment, many lakhs of candidates appear for the exam.

If the exam is managed properly, the exams can be conducted smoothly even without the steps like netbandi. Wouldn’t it be correct, then, to say that netbandi is a sign of administrative mismanagement? If you look at the statistics of netbandi, it is found that in India, internet is stopped on every small occasion. For the last three years, India has remained on the first place in terms of netbandi. According to the report released by Digital Rights and Privacy Institute Access Now in March 2021, there were 155 net closures in the world in the year 2020. Out of this, 109 cases are from India. If seen within the country, the maximum netbandi was done in Jammu and Kashmir followed by Rajasthan. Reasons for Netbandi include political instability, elections, agitations, riots and examinations. NET was closed during the secondary examinations in West Bengal, then the same step was taken in the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the northeastern states. In recent days, the internet was also shut down in the ongoing protests against agricultural laws. At the same time, the internet was also closed on the day of all kinds of recruitment examinations in Rajasthan.

According to digital rights organizations, internet shutdown is a kind of human rights violation. Shutting down the internet is like shutting down people’s daily routines completely. In such a situation, it is necessary that the governments should at least stop it. Work harder on other options to deal with cheating, riots and other problems in the exam. It is clear that simply shutting down the Internet cannot be the ultimate solution to any problem.