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RSS chief clubs OTT streaming and crypto with drugs, calls for regulation in Dussehra speech

Known as the ideological parent of India’s ruling party, the RSS has been crusading against streaming platforms like Prime Video lately.

“There are efforts to institute anarchy in the country. and technology is adding fuel to the fire,” Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), said in a speech on October 15, urging the government to regulate content on OTT platforms, cryptocurrencies as well as narcotics.

In his speech at the Nagpur headquarters of the RSS, the Sangh leader flagged that kids increasingly have unregulated access to OTT content. Bhagwat also pointed out that currencies such as Bitcoin are not regulated by any country or law, and hence must be urgently regulated.

The RSS is the ideological parent of the BJP. Such comments from the RSS chief could prompt the BJP-led central government to assign greater priority to regulating OTT content and cryptocurrencies.

What Bhagwat said and why RSS is taking issue with OTT streaming

In his speech, the RSS chief mentioned three issues that need urgent regulation: OTT streaming, narcotics, and Bitcoin:

There are efforts to institute anarchy in the country. and technology is adding fuel to the fire.What kinds of images are shown on OTT platforms? After Corona, kids have mobile phones, they also watch online. What they see and what they don’t is not regulated […] There are different kinds of addictive drugs that are coming, people are increasingly falling into drug habits […] Currencies like Bitcoin – which country, which laws have oversight over it, I don’t know. Keeping these issues in mind, the government must issue regulations for the benefit of society. — Mohan Bhagwat, RSS Chief

RSS-linked magazine criticises Amazon Prime: In a recent article critical of Amazon, RSS-linked magazine Panchajanya criticised shows on Amazon Prime that oppose Indian culture, Newslaundry reported. According to the report, the magazine pointed out that Prime Video routinely aires shows in which “Hindu deities are made fun of and family values are assaulted.”

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How India currently regulates online streaming

Streaming platforms in India have adopted a self-regulation code under the IAMAI. Aside from that, the IT Rules 2021 require that streaming platforms –

  1. Appoint a resident grievance officer and publish their details on their website
  2. Dispose of complaints received from the general public
  3. Have standardised age ratings (U, U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A)
  4. Display content descriptors for content that may be inappropriate for certain audiences
  5. Set up parental controls
  6. Publish monthly reports of compliance

Also read: A Complete Guide To OTT Streaming Content Regulation In India

What about the regulation of cryptocurrencies?

India’s much-anticipated crypto bill is currently tabled before the Union Cabinet awaiting approval. Here’s a timeline of everything that’s happened around crypto regulation in India:

  • 2018: The Reserve Bank of India banned regulated entities including banks from providing services to crypto exchanges. It said that cryptocurrencies raise concerns of “consumer protection, market integrity, and money laundering, among others”.
  • 2019: A report by the Finance Ministry (drafted in 2017) advocated for a ban on the use of cryptocurrency in India. The report was drafted by an inter-ministerial committee chaired by the secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs Subhash Chandra Garg.
  • 2020: The RBI ban was then overturned by the Supreme Court of India which said that the move was “disproportionate”. It led to a surge in sign-ups across various crypto exchanges as they were able to access banking services.
  • 2021: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman announced that the crypto bill was tabled before the Cabinet awaiting approval, Mint reported in August. The RBI is also working towards a “phased implementation strategy” for the introduction of central bank-backed digital currency (CBDC), giving regulators necessary powers of oversight and monitoring which cryptocurrencies lack.

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