Internet shutdowns have become quite common in India. Governments across the whole country have begun opting for it to avoid incidents of violence and circulation of fake news. Internet in India can be banned anytime and anywhere if the situation demands.
The government authorities may claim that internet shutdown is a necessary step to prevent a situation from getting worse. But for many citizens, it is a predicament and that too when they have nothing to do with the “situation”.
Internet Shutdown Explained
The disruption of internet services in a particular area or the whole country by the government is known as an internet shutdown or internet ban. The main intention behind it is to prevent the circulation of information and gain control over a violent situation.
An internet ban can be partial or complete. A partial ban is when some sites can be accessed. In a complete ban, nothing can be accessed on the internet. In some cases, 4G and 3G services are suspended while 2G service remains available.
Recently, the killing of tailor Kanhaiyalal Teli in Udaipur by 2 men compelled the Rajasthan government to impose a ban on internet in the city.
Conditions In India
India has imposed the maximum number of internet shutdowns till now. As a matter of fact, it has emerged as the number one country globally in cutting off internet services for the fourth consecutive year. This has given India the tag of “Internet Shutdown Capital of the World”.
Internetshutdowns.in, a tracker by Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC), states that there have been 674 instances of internet blackout in India since 2012. Out of these 674 shutdowns, 411 have been in Jammu and Kashmir alone. India dealt with at least 101 internet shutdowns in the year 2021.
Reasons Of Internet Shutdown
Government authorities of not only India but other countries as well have resorted to suspending internet connectivity for a number of reasons:
- Internet can be shut down to prevent people from cheating in major examinations.
- It can help stop the circulation of fake information and rumours.
- Suspending the internet services is an early response to stop mischievous elements from organising or aggravating riots.
- It helps in preventing electoral fraud, i.e. manipulation of votes during an election.
Negative Impacts Of Internet Shutdown
There is no denying that life without internet would become very difficult, given that most of our work requires us to be online. Internet shutdown poses several challenges for the people:
- It halts connectivity and makes communication harder.
- It disrupts delivery services, payment gateway services etc.
- It is a disadvantage to workers who are dependent on the internet for their business like YouTubers, social media influencers, etc.
- It prevents the broadcasting of news and thus a lot of important information becomes inaccessible.
Tips To Deal With An Internet Shutdown
There is nothing more you can do other than being prepared when the government decides to cut off the internet. These tips may come handy in case of a sudden internet blackout:
1. Download Your Favourite Songs & Movies
Apart from keeping us updated and being a platform for socialising, internet is a great source of entertainment too. In the 2G generation, when the networks were pathetic, downloading our favourite games, movies and songs was a regular practice. But online streaming platforms like Amazon Prime, Spotify, Netflix etc have ruined our good old habit of downloading stuff. It would be good idea to download your preferred content and stay prepared for challenging times.
2. Have Enough Mobile Balance For SMSes & Calls
Always keep sufficient balance in your mobile phone for SMSes and calls in case the network in your area gets disrupted or there is an internet blackout.
3. Keep Adequate Cash
UPI payment apps or netbanking cannot be accessed during times of an internet crisis, therefore always have some cash on you, both at home and during travels. Relying on digital payments is not always a good idea thus always keep cash with you for emergencies.
4. Shift To Offline Messaging Apps
There are several apps that can be used to send messages even when you are offline. Apps like FireChat and Bridgefy use bluetooth to send text messages. Another app called Signal can also be used to send text messages offline. It is secure and free to use.
5. Keep Backups & Hard Copies Of Important Documents
Keep scanned files, screenshots or photos of all the important documents downloaded on your phone like tickets, bookings, bills, Aadhar card, PAN card, driving licence etc. Even better would be to have a physical copy of them.
6. Get A Landline Phone
If your region is witnessing frequent internet shutdowns, it is better to get a landline as the final fix. It is great for emergencies like these and will allow you to comfortably communicate with your friends and family.
7. Use 2 SIMs Or Phones
Sometimes, the government can suspend 4G and 3G services but the 2G service still remains accessible. It is advised to keep a 2G phone handy or an extra SIM with 2G service so that you can stay connected during times of emergency. Also, a 2G device has an added advantage of a better battery life.
Internet shutdown can be quite a challenge but with the tips mentioned above, the situation can become a tad bit easier to handle.
If you can think of any other ideas, do share it in the comments section. Also, don’t forget to like and share the post with others!