Smartphones Transformed India. Now Indians Are Turning Them Against The Modi Government.

Cheap data and inexpensive smartphones brought millions of people online in India this decade. As the country’s government cracks down, protesters are using the internet to resist.

Last week, after the Indian government turned off access to the internet from mobile devices in state after state as furious protests erupted over an anti-Muslim citizenship law, I sent a WhatsApp message to a colleague in panic.

“Is there any chance in hell that Delhi would lose internet?”

For days, I had watched as authorities plunged districts across the country into digital darkness. On December 10, far-flung districts in the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura went offline, followed a day later by parts of neighboring Assam. The authorities had shut off internet access to try to stymie protests against a law passed that week by India’s Hindu nationalist government, whoch made getting an Indian citizenship easier for immigrants who practice all major South Asian religions except Islam. People opposing the law say that it destroys India’s secular ethos.

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