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Once shunned as an “international conspiracy,” social media toolkits are now India’s Covid lifeline

System failure.
  • Niharika Sharma
By Niharika Sharma

Reporter based in New Delhi.

Published Last updated

Earlier this year, a digital “toolkit” had riled up the Indian government so much that it called it “an international conspiracy” and arrested a young activist for making minor edits to the document. Now, similar e-documents are proving to be one of the most efficient tools in providing essential support to Indian citizens struggling with a brutal second wave of Covid-19.

The Indian internet is currently flooded with “toolkits” that provide details about the availability of life-saving medicines, oxygen supplies, the status of beds in hospitals, among other things.

The conflict over a toolkit

In February, the Delhi police had arrested 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi on allegations that she had contributed to a toolkit that contained information on how to support the Indian farmers’ protest.

The toolkit came into the limelight when Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted the document, voicing her support for the ongoing farm protest in India. Ravi was kept in police custody for 10 days and was granted bail on Feb. 23 after the court in its order said that the creation of a WhatsApp group or editing a toolkit is not an offense.

World over, digital toolkits are used for exchanging information and creating awareness on sensitive issues. For instance, during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in the US last year, several toolkits were doing rounds educating protestors about their rights and the ways to register dissent.

Similarly, various toolkits have been created to raise awareness about social issues such as racism and gender equality.

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