Silicon Valley Thought India Was Its Future. Now Everything Has Changed. – By Nitish Pahwa
On June 3, Google had to apologize to the Indian state of Karnataka for search results that prominently listed the state’s primary tongue, Kannada, as the “ugliest language in India.” As the search engine moved to fix the issue, the state’s minister for forest, Kannada, and culture, Arvind Limbavali, threatened legal action. Later that very week, Limbavali demanded that Amazon’s Canada outpost apologize after it listed a bikini for sale that featured Karnataka’s flag. When Amazon did not respond, Limbavali stated he’d take legal action against the e-commerce platform as well.
These incidents occurred at a terrible time for Google and Amazon. Throughout this year, India’s ultraconservative government has consistently threatened major Big Tech at a level it hadn’t dared before….
The India that Silicon Valley once so loved has long given way to a different one: an increasingly authoritarian regime that wants even tighter control over information dissemination. It’s an India that’s not only willing to bully the very companies it once welcomed in order to firm up its grip, but also one that’s attempting to craft its own parallel social mediasphere as a bargaining chip to Silicon Valley: Either you play by our rules, or we don’t need you.