India’s IT and Broadcasting ministers resign

India’s IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar resigned from their roles on Wednesday, adding to the list of high-profile local politicians who have vacated their positions ahead of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi reshuffling his cabinet.

The resignations of Prasad — who also served as the minister of Law and Justice — and Javadekar — who also oversaw Environment, Forest, Climate Change, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises — come at a time when they were at the centre of a tough discourse with American technology firms over South Asian’s new IT rules, which went into effect late May.

There’s no evidence that Prasad and Javadekar’s enforcement of the new IT rules and public exchanges with American technology giants are linked to their resignations.

“All social media platforms are welcome to do business in India. They can criticize Ravi Shankar Prasad, my Prime Minister or anyone. The issue is of misuse of social media. Some of them say we are bound by American laws. You operate in India, make good money, but you will take the position that you’ll be governed by American laws. This is plainly not acceptable,” Prasad had said at a virtual conference last week.

The new IT rules “will impact the data privacy and security of Indian internet users, as well as the technology sector’s hitherto tremendous contribution to India’s economic growth by imposing onerous compliance frameworks on both local and international digital media companies, said Jeff Paine, MD of Asia Internet Coalition, an industry body that represents all major tech companies, in May.

“While it is important to uphold user internet and accountability of online platforms, we urge the government to work closely with industry to ensure that these rules are implemented in ways that mitigate the impact on online platforms’ operations in India, and ultimately, on individuals, startups, and the country’s technology ecosystem.”

Others ministers to resign today include Health minister Harsh Vardhan and his deputy Ashwani Chaube, both of whom were criticised for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic measures.

“The President, as advised by the Prime Minister, has accepted the resignation … with immediate effect,” said Ajay Kumar Singh, Press Secretary to the President, in a statement.