The Indian Government on Monday banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, over concerns that these apps were engaging in activities that threatened national security, defence of India, sovereignty and integrity of India.
Among the apps that were banned by the Indian Ministry of Electronics and IT are ByteDance’s TikTok- which considers India as its biggest market, Community and Video Call apps from Xiaomi- the top smartphone vendor in India, UC Browser and UC News from Alibaba Group, Shareit, CM Browser, Club Factory and several others.
However, the central government’s decision to place a ban on 59 Chinese apps under Section 69A of Information Technology Act for “engaging in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, the security of the state and public order” did not sit well with a host of left-leaning liberals, who promptly expressed their outrage against the Centre for enforcing a ban on Chinese app TikTok which had recently donated Rs 30 crore to PM Cares Fund to assist the nation in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Liberals say we cannot ban TikTok, because it had donated Rs 30 crores
Scores of perturbed liberals, possibly distraught by the ban on Chinese apps in the country, took to Twitter to wonder if the government will return the donation of Rs 30 crores it received from TikTok in the PMCARES fund as if the government was obligated to return the sum it received by the company that operated and profited in India for outlawing its operations in the country on the grounds of impinging upon the sovereignty and integrity of the nation.
Rs 30 crores over national security?
There are three crucial aspects to the assertions made by the liberals in calling for the government to return the contribution made by TikTok India following its ban by the central government. Firstly, the Chinese apps are banned by the Centre because they were engaging in subversive activities that threatened the sovereignty and integrity of the country. Contrary to what liberals allude, the move to debar the apps from operating in India was not a part of the government’s revanchist policy to pressurise the Chinese PLA army along the border in Eastern Ladakh to retreat.
In fact, if the government heeds the calls made by the liberal intelligentsia of returning the donations made by the Chinese companies, China can easily term Indian government’s measure as ‘revenge’ and make a case for unfair trade practices against India. This could possibly wage a trade war against New Delhi. Since Indian liberals would rather see Indian economy take a dive, it is no wonder that they want matters to be escalated. Hence, they are suggesting the Indian government to return Rs 30 crore to TikTok after placing a ban on it. This is what is called adding fuel to the metaphorical fire.
Secondly, by asking the government to remit the sum back to TikTok, are liberals suggesting that companies who donate money to the government’s funds can escape from adverse action initiated by the government against companies who infringe upon privacy rights and pose a threat to the national security? Does it mean that the government should overlook the grave violations committed by companies in future just because they had earlier made a charitable donation? Should the government keep reimbursing money to the organisations because they were found violating the norms?
For Indian ‘Liberals’ Aadhar is a privacy threat, but TikTok should never be banned
The answers to these questions, from a liberal point of view, are pretty straightforward, provided if one looks in the right direction. Liberals, who could not stop themselves from expressing their paranoia over the perceived privacy violations by Aadhaar, a technology indigenously built in India, are more concerned about the donations made by Chinese apps, notwithstanding their global reputation of indulging in surveillance activities. Millions of rupees were funded in building and implementing Aadhaar platform so that the robust database helps to remove corruption and middlemen in monetary schemes, but the liberals had no qualms in running a smear campaign against it, alleging it to be a tool employed by the central government to infringe upon people’s privacy.
The liberals were then actively seeking to sabotage the implementation of Aadhaar, which the apex court said did not violate the right to privacy, but they are now willing to barter the ban on TikTok by asking the government to pay Rs 30 crore it received from the organisation for battling the spread of coronavirus, a pandemic which incidentally had its roots in China. The liberals are afflicted with a pathological aversion to PM Modi and the BJP and it is because of this malady that they are prepared to overlook the security and privacy implications posed by the Chinese apps and are ready to trade the ban at a sum of Rs 30 crore.
A donation to charitable cause is not a ‘security deposit’
Furthermore, the funds received by the government from companies and organisations are not an amount meant as a security against any harsh action initiated by the government for the violations committed by those organisations. It does not offer the companies a free pass to act as per their will without facing the consequences for violating the law of the land.
Thirdly, liberals’ demand to return the donations made by the Chinese companies betrays their notion that money is always paid, even as donations, for striking a quid pro quo deal with the government. Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan reacted on the ban on TikTok by posting a tweet, alleging the government to be ungrateful towards TikTok which had donated Rs 30 crore. In fact, Bhushan refers to PM Cares Fund as “Chaiwala’s Fund”, ignoring the fact that it is not a private fund like Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.
The donation made by TikTok was to a national fund, not to a private entity as alleged by Bhushan. Notwithstanding his jibes at PM Modi, it is profoundly disturbing that a Supreme Court lawyer such as Prashant Bhushan is alluding that the government should be “grateful” to the Chinese company TikTok because they made a humble contribution of Rs 30 crores to the PM Cares Fund.
Tik Tok’s humble contribution of 30 Crores to humble Chaiwala’s fund! So ungrateful! https://t.co/Ht5t22oJEI— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) June 30, 2020
Is this why the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation kept on taking money from the Chinese?
This brings us to the murky donations received by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation from the government of China. Sonia Gandhi headed Rajiv Gandhi Foundation had received close to Rs 1 crore in three years from the government of China during the UPA tenure. Congress and its supporters should first come clean on what were the modalities agreed between the political party and a foreign government to have received such donations.
Since the ‘liberals’ on Twitter are passionately arguing that there should be a sense of reciprocity, and ‘gratefulness’ even against the companies who are found to have violated the security and privacy norms, is this the reason why Congress has traditionally been soft on its approach against China? Is this why the Chinese government paid donations to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation for the Congress to comply with their furtive territorial advances? Did the Congress party trade loyalty towards India in lieu of generous contributions from the Chinese government?
Before asking the central government to return donations received from the Chinese companies, the liberals must ask these uncomfortable questions to their masters.