An overarching law to protect the country’s data and a detailed investigation into all Chinese investments in the country, particularly in start-ups, are some of the demands being made by the Rashtriya Swayamseval Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates such as the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) amid a growing strain in India-China ties.
KN Govindacharya, the former general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and an ideologue of the RSS, wants the government to bring a law to secure the country’s data and sovereignty.
Govindacharya, who has been seeking regulation of social media platforms and has filed a petition in the Delhi high court (HC) for rules to make companies such as Facebook and Google establish their servers in India, has also been urging the government to refrain from using social media platforms and Google mail for official purposes.
He welcomed the Union government’s decision to ban 59 Chinese applications. “This is the first step. What we need is a proper law, which needs to cover an entire gamut of aspects. This needs to be well thought out,” he said.
This week, the Centre has banned Chinese applications, including popular platforms such as Tik Tok and Camscanner, citing “emergent threats” to the country’s sovereignty and national security. The ban comes on the back of violent hand-to-hand combat between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley on June 15 that had left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
However, the opposition has questioned the government, asking the reasons for not banning these Chinese applications, if they were perceived to be a threat to national security.
China has said India’s decision could be in contravention of the legitimate rights of international investors.
Govindacharya, however, said the country’s national interests override trade obligations.
“There are many aspects that need to be examined such as tax evasion and other security-related details. While taking steps to protect the national security if that means withdrawing from trade obligations that can be done. What is important is to first state intent and determination,” he said.
SJM, which has been vocal about a blanket ban on Chinese goods and applications, has also welcomed the government’s move but wants a scan of all Chinese investments in India.
Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convenor, SJM, said, the government is free to rethink trade agreements. “The WTO (World Trade Organisation) is clear that when it a matter of national security or in the case of a pandemic, a country’s interests prevail. The government is rightly concerned about the security and the onus is on the applications to prove they did not share data with the Chinese government,” he said.