One in three middle-class Indians wants porn banned

Ban nation.
Ban nation.
Image: REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade
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The Indian state, often quick to impose bans, has turned particularly trigger happy in recent months. And a large chunk of India’s middle-class seems likely to have no problem with that.

Around 34% of respondents in a survey of middle-class Indians said they thought pornography should be completely banned, global market research firm Ipsos found. Some 40% also said violent video games should not be accessible to anyone. And still more—42%—said e-cigarettes and vaping should see a total ban.

The Paris-based company specifies that since it surveyed only Indians online, the sample is not “fully nationally representative,” but rather indicative of the opinions of “an important and emerging middle class.”

Porn, video games, and e-cigarettes have been under the Indian government’s scanner lately, and have either faced bans or have been proposed to be banned.

Last November, over 800 pornography websites were banned across India in a crackdown that has since intensified, with some sites that had previously slipped through the cracks being banned now.

Violent video games have faced scrutiny as well. “Some of the popular violent video games have been banned in India. And our survey validates that most Indians reject them, as they are interpreted as vices,” said Parijat Chakraborty, service line leader of Ipsos public affairs.

PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds (PUBG), a free mobile game whose popularity has skyrocketed in the country, is a particular target. The backlash against it led to it being banned in many jurisdictions in the western state of Gujarat this March. Ten college students were even arrested for playing the game despite the ban. Three other countries, Nepal, China, and Iraq, have also banned it.

Vaping and e-cigarettes could face restrictions soon as well, as India’s health ministry issued an advisory last year urging that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) be banned. Following that, 12 states have banned ENDS, though they have not been centrally restricted yet. The country’s trade ministry, however, reportedly claims that there is no legal basis for such a ban.

Other restrictions instituted recently include a week-long ban of the Chinese video app TikTok last month, and a ban on gambling that, as of three weeks ago, was reportedly being discussed by the Gujarat government.

Many of Ipsos’ survey respondents supported total ban on gambling, tobacco, and marijuana.

Meanwhile, far fewer Indians believe there should be a ban on social media, junk food, and online dating. Respondents could choose between whether they thought the supposed vices should be available to all, restricted by age, or available to only those with permits.