Banning of apps

•KAKALI DAS

Is Banning of apps adequate as a response to China ?

According to a headline in the Business Standard, “Chinese troops now stepping up activity near Arunachal Pradesh”. Indian government’s sources, according to the news portal said, “People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops here are now reinforcing their forces in large numbers, they are increasing patrolling and stepping up violations of the Indian border which in Arunachal Pradesh runs across the common line” – which is something we should worry about right now. Amidst this chaos, India decided to ban 59 Chinese apps for reasons of national security. People, since then have been apprehensive about this decision and various questions have been raised thereafter.

Was this a response to the attacks in Galwan Valley? If yes, is it an adequate response? If there was an alleged data theft, shouldn’t the government have acted earlier? What about the Chinese interests in Power, Pharma, Telecom Sectors etc.? Is this meant to be an economic sanction? Will it make any difference to China at all?

“The banning of 59 apps is certainly a response to the deteriorating relationships between the two countries and an initial signal to China that we are reacting to this”, Mohan Guruswamy, an economist said. Somewhere along the line the government was hoping that they could sort things out with China but they went past the certain marker and made things difficult. There is a lot of anguish in India about the fact that the Chinese PLA had engaged in the transgression and our Jawans lost their lives – which in a democracy as ours have filtered across every parts of the country. In that case, the government had to take a certain decision. “This is symbolic but significant and it stays within the framework of World Trade Organisation (WTO). It has sent out the signal of India’s own disappointment of the Chinese actions. Because we are engaged with the Chinese talks both at the military and diplomatic level, there is a certain hope in India, particularly at the government level that there could be a modus vivendi after this”, Guruswami said.

Commodore UdayBhaskar, Director of the Society of Policy Studies in an interview said, “The move was a prudent one, it may not be most affective to reverse what has happened in Galwan. It doesn’t have a linear connection with the dispute in the border but it does send a certain signal to China and that is how we should perceive it at this point in time”. The Chinese troops are moving towards us according to a certain game plan which is why the Indian Foreign Ministry said, “It was premeditated”. They are willing to pay the cost and take the steps forward even if their relationship with India goes South and even if the potential of 1.3 billion populations a market that India now represents is something that wouldn’t be as enthusiastic and empathetic to China as it has been so far and launching 5G in India is going to be an important litmus test if Huawei symbolises for China’s technologies and India’s needs. China clearly has arrived at a determination that they are willing to forgo the potential that India represents. Through this response to the Chinese provocation, Indian government somewhere tried to indicate that it’s certainly marching forward in dismantling the trade arrangements with China over a period of time if not now. Although it’s time that will unveil all the motives behind these – positive or  negative.

Myriad’s of start-ups and companies in India contains Chinese investments. Unicorn, a start-up company that is valued at over a billion dollars, have 27 of them in India with Chinese money invested on almost all of it. Where on the one hand, the government says that the banning of these apps is for the security reasons, while on the other hand they want to teach China a lesson that India has the potential and the courage to terminate business with them. If it’s all for the security reasons, the government should have banned the apps back then when apps like Facebook, Google were accused of and interrogated for stealing our data. Why ban these Chinese Apps merely and not the rest if it’s for safeguarding our data? The large amount of mobile phones which have been used in India are Chinese manufactured or developed including multiple tracking devices available in the country which gives more data and information about people, the country and their operations to the Chinese or other countries than these mobile apps. We use these apps which has suddenly gotten popular because of the hefty amount of funding been made to these companies and hence been doing well in the market. We do have apps with similar functions made in India but they aren’t popular due to the lack of proper funding. The giant names, whether it’s Paytm, Zomato, Snapdeal,Bigbasket, Flipkart which contains Chinese investments are still operating uninterruptedly. Moreover, any country which has shown good interest in Indian story till now is China, very less from the European countries or even the USA. According to RamaniIyer, Co-Founder, JustDail, “While banning the Chinese investments, the government is curtailing and destroying the dreams of many start-ups who have been dreaming of getting funded by such giant investors”. Will the government attack those companies like Paytm, Zomato, Flipkart etc. which have been funded by the Chinese investors? – needs to be looked into.

Initially, while watching the video of Mr. Sonam Wangchuk asking for a boycott of Chinese products, I wasn’t much well versed. But after researching a lot, it’s quite astounding to witness the level of stupidity that we have come down to. This is a lover’s tiff that is going on at this point of time. If asked whether it is a politically wise decision, Yes, it is a masterstroke and no question or doubt on that. The thought that has been addressed is at the base which says, “Kuch  toh kiya, haath pe haath dharke toh nahi bainthe”. This is a very powerful sentiment that “we did something, if not more”. Let’s not forget that it’s an interim order – Tiktok is definitely going to appeal and all would be invited by the government to put their case forward and when the data privacy is sorted out these companies will be back, since it isn’t a permanent order. If we talk about the political veracity of it then it’s undoubtedly a masterstroke and a legitimate move by the government and people will gulp that down but if we consider the facts and the statistics, it’s astounding to find that 76 billion dollars’ worth of import (we import most from China) and 16 billion dollars’ worth of export are transported from and to China. Not to forget that the Chinese market happens to be the 3rd largest export market in India, so this “Boycott Game” isn’t a one way game, can be played both ways. What’s happening at the border is extremely devastating on all grounds for all of us but for a solution to that, there must be a long term view of it.

My only point now is that the government is free to ban everything that is China based or manufactured or invested but kindly encourage “Make In India” in the truest sense of the word and not couch it with phrases like ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, ‘Swadeshi’ and other rhetorical words. Let alone taxes, funding and so and so forth, the government hasn’t even been able to provide at least 10 hours of power supply a day to the small scale manufacturing industries in the country. If we are really serious about defeating the Chinese which we can for sure, we have to enable our industries with the basic necessities and the rest will be taken care of by them further. The politics can continue thereafter.

**মহাবাহু**

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