The government of India will soon hold meetings with leading OTT players in India to discuss censorship and regulation of online streaming content. It can be assumed Leila, a Netflix show, might be the trigger behind this decision.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting are soon to start meetings with representatives from Hotstar, SonyLIV, Voot, ALTBalaji, ZEE5, Eros Now, Arre, Netflix and Reliance Jio. Lawyers, officials from NGOs, Facebook, Google and other digital media companies are also going to be present in the meetings.
Censorship of online content and the ways for India to do so will be discussed in the meetings.
Streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime and Netflix don’t need certifications from the Central Board of Film Certification like movies to be released in cinema halls do.
But the scenario is soon to change as Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar has confirmed that meetings on online certification of digital content will soon start over.
Is Leila the trigger of this proposal to censor Netflix et al?
There has been news that Netflix show Leila might have triggered this proposal of online content censorship. Sources in the RSS said the swayamsevaks were upset over the way the rituals and customs of Hinduism had been portrayed in Leila. The show, according to many, has been described as propagandising anti-Hindu sentiments, portraying Hindu customs in a negative way unnecessarily.
Leila has a clear reference to the Hindu community as “Aryavart”. The protagonist and the antagonist are both played by Muslim actors, Huma Qureshi and Arif Zakaria, respectively.
In the said series, members of Aryavart abduct women who marry Muslim men to carry out their ‘purification’. The social phenomenon referred to as “love jihad”, wherein a Muslim man dupes a gullible Hindu woman into conversion and marriage to proliferate the Muslim population, has been a raging debate in the country for more than a decade. In the second half of the 2000s, the term was coined in Kerala by Christians whose womenfolk met with the same fate. However, while a section of the commentariat vociferously deny this phenomenon, the fiction in the series Leila showing such women being kidnapped for shuddhi, en masse, has been unheard of in reality.
“It represents ancient Hindu concepts such as Aryavarta and Shuddhikaran as oppressive and dictatorial, suppressing women and restricting their reproductive rights. Nowhere in Hindu scriptures will you find such an occurrence, which is why we raised concerns about the series being defamatory and insulting,” said a member of the VHP.
Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act, Kafir, The Final Call and many other shows have been highlighted as featuring equally “Hindu-phobic” content.
As many as nine PILs are currently being heard in various courts in India, including in the Supreme Court.