Alok Dixit

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Alok Dixit
आलोक दीक्षित
Alok Dixit.jpg
Alok Dixit
Born (1988-07-04) 4 July 1988 (age 28)
Kanpur, India
Nationality Indian
Known for Journalism, Activism
Website www.saveyourvoice.in

Alok Dixit is a journalist turned social activist, fighting for the freedom of internet in India. He is the founder member of 'Save Your Voice’, a movement against internet censorship in India and 'Stop Acid Attacks' Campaign, a campaign to raise voices against acid violence.[1][2][3][4][5]

His works includes campaigning against the censorship on the online media and to help acid survivors to live a life free of violence. With his demand of free and open internet, Alok is creating a nationwide awareness among the youth through his writings and peaceful protests.[6] He is advocating for the protection of freedom of expression and human rights by engaging communities and supporting people’s voices around the world.[7] He is also working hand in hand with government, donors, media, NGOs, celebrities and students to help acid survivors rebuild their lives and to prevent further attack.[8]

Early life[edit]

Alok Dixit is born in a Brahmin family in Kanpur in 1988.[9] He is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore, India.

Career[edit]

Alok joined Indian Air Force in 2007 and served till Mar 2009.[10] He resigned from the service and became a fellow of IIJNM, Bangalore. After a short service as a reporter in TV9 News channel in Mumbai, he switched to Jagran Prakashan Limited and worked for portal Inext Live.[citation needed]

Alok works with the survivors of acid attacks in India. In the last two years, Dixit built a campaign across the country called "Stop Acid Attacks". This organization, made up mainly of acid attack victims, makes it a point to visit the victims and help them in whatever way possible.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Alok Dixit, set out to fight against the scourge of acid attacks in India. Along the way, the issue consumed him and he found himself in a relationship with acid attack survivor turned activist and TV Anchor, Laxmi.[12] The 24-year-old Laxmi from Delhi, who is also a winner of a 2014 Women of Courage award, underwent seven major surgeries to try and reduce the burns to her skin, told to People Magazine, ‘'After the attack, I never thought I would ever find a soulmate. I had lost hope. She said: 'Someone asked me the question of what if the attacker still offered to marry me? I said, he has changed my face, but he has failed to change my mind”. Afterward,I never wanted to find love. I mean there was no hope in any case because of the scars".[13]

But after meeting Dixit, that all changed and she says she learned to love again. “But in Alok, I couldn't have found anyone better. He understood the kind of pain I was in. He understood what I had been going through".[14]

Alok says, “Just like anyone falls in love, I fell in love with Laxmi”. “Yes, she is the victim of an acid attack, and it shows, but that did not come in the way of our relationship. I liked her courage and the fact that she boldly faced the world without trying to hide within four walls".[15]

Both decided not to get married and instead be in a live-in relationship. Alok writes in one of his blogs on Aljazeera, “Marriage in our situation can bring with it lots of pressure on us. Relatives will attend the wedding for the curiosity value rather than any real concern for our happiness.” He says, “I am not going to follow the norms that the society approves of. We will prove that our love does not need a name. Our love is about understanding and support".[16]

'We have decided to live together until we die. But we are challenging the society by not getting married. We don’t want people to come to our wedding and comment on my looks. The looks of a bride are most important for people. So we decided not to have any ceremony' says Laxmi.[17]

Their families have accepted the relationship and also their decision not to have a ceremonial wedlock.[18]

Internet Censorship[edit]

Alok Dixit along with his friend Aseem Trivedi and Arpit Gupta and Chirag Joshi started Save Your Voice, which soon became a public movement in India. His campaigning against the government and intermediaries has gained international media attention. A debate on the issue of internet censorship has been started after the creative protests of Save Your Voice. Langada March was a big success of his campaigns in the initial days. Sibal’s Day Campaign and Freedom in the Cage involved young bloggers, writers, journalists and students to its campaign.

While reporting on the Sibal’s Day campaign, a reporter writes in Wall Street Journal, " Although Save Your Voice is relatively small; it is gaining popularity on social media." The Hindu observes Freedom in the cage as the idea which portrays that artistes inside a cage playing the guitar or painting a canvas was equal to the government's IT rules that have "caged" the freedom of the people granted by the Constitution of India.[19]

Freedom Fast[edit]

With his reservations on the Intermediary Guidelines of the Information Technology Act, 2011 of India, Alok Dixit along with his colleague Aseem Trivedi started a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar to support the annulment motion in Rajya Sabha. Foreign Policy considers this fast as the ‘most colorful highlights’ from the internet freedom movements in India.[20]

The former CNN journalist and co-founder of Global Voices Online, Rebecca MacKinnon writes, "A lively national Internet freedom movement has grown rapidly across India since the beginning of this year. The most colorful highlight so far was a seven-day Gandhian hunger strike, otherwise known as a "freedom fast," held in early May on a New Delhi sidewalk by political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and activist-journalist Alok Dixit." The Hindu quotes Alok on the fourth day of the Hunger strike, "The empowerment that social media provides has begun to be seen as threatening. This is an attempt to clamp down on an individual’s right to dissent and his freedom of expression. Alok and his friend ended their Anshan after their health deteriorated and Police forcefully admitted them to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi."[21] Reporters Without Borders criticized Indian Government in their press release saying, “Two of the movement’s campaigners, the cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and the citizen journalist Alok Dixit, were forced today to end a hunger strike they began on 2 May. Their health had deteriorated considerably and they were hospitalized.”[22]

Occupy India[edit]

Masked members of Save Your Voice held a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi against Indian government's attempts to restrict freedom on the Internet.[23] The protest in India was spearheaded by 'Save Your Voice' and 'Anonymous' at various historic monuments in 16 cities, of India. Alok took active part in the networking between the International hacking group and Indian members of Save Your Voice.[24] [25]

The protest has resulted in access being denied to a host of websites that carry illegal copies of films and albums among other legal content, including isohunt.com and pastebin.com. The website of one of the Save Your Voice members, Aseem Trivedi, was also blocked by BigRock and against which the members protested and campaigned throughout India.[26] "The government is bringing censorship through the back door and we will oppose it," says Alok in one of his interviews with The Asian Age.[27] To register their protest, campaigners have also hacked the website of state-run telecom provider MTNL and pasted the logo of the Anonymous group, the mask of 17th century British revolutionary Guy Fawkes, on mtnl.net.in. MTNL's corporate website could not be accessed for over four hours, following the attack, but its individual city-specific websites (for Delhi and Mumbai)remained unaffected.[28]

Arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi[edit]

Police in Maharashtra state arrested Aseem Trivedi, a political cartoonist and the co-founder of Save Your Voice campaign, on Saturday, 9 September 2012.[29] He faced charges of sedition, violating Internet security laws, and insulting national honor for publishing cartoons mocking national symbols and criticizing corruption on his website, Cartoons Against Corruption.[30] After the Trivedi’s arrest, Alok run a nationwide campaign against the arrest of the cartoonist under the banner of Save Your Voice.[31] The campaign got huge public support from civil society groups and artist communities across borders. Mahesh Bhatt, a prominent Bollywood figure and film director, joined the press conference at Mumbai Press Club with activist Alok Dixit and offered every possible support in Trivedi’s case.[32] Alok has also mediated between the Home Minister RR Patil and cartoonist Aseem Trivedi when cartoonist refused to take bail.[33] Dixit is now working closely with the prominent activists like Binayak Sen, Arvind Kejriwal, Arundhati Roy and Aseem Trivedi to repeal the Sedition Law.[34]

Hunger Strike against Sec 66 A of the IT Act[edit]

After repeated misuse of sec 66 A of the IT Act Alok Dixit with his colleague from Save Your Voice, Aseem Trivedi decided to sit on an indefinite hunger (Anshan) strike against this draconian law.[35] This got a bigger public attention when activist turned politician Arvind Kejriwal joined this campaign and promised to make it a nationwide agenda.[36] He and his colleague Trivedi ended the fast after Kejriwal requested him not to waste his life and rather work towards ‘uprooting the UPA government’.[37] To support the hunger strike, Anonymous hacked the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) website. BSNL home page showed an image of cartoonist Trivedi with text that read "Hacked by Anonymous India. Support Aseem trivedi (cartoonist) and Alok Dixit on the hunger strike. Remove IT Act 66 A databases of all 250 bsnl site has been d Hacked by Anonymous India (sic)".[38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The war for India’s Internet". 7 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "Save Your Voice — A movement against Web censorship and Stop Acid Attacks, a campaign against acid attacks on women.". 13 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "How to wreck a life with 10 bucks". The Times Of India. 14 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Acid attacks: New law hikes punishment, but doesn't help victims". Daily News. New York. 7 Apr 2013. 
  5. ^ Buncombe, Andrew (5 April 2013). "'I want the world to know what happened to me' - acid attack victim who has turned campaigner". The Independent. London. 
  6. ^ "Sibal’s Demand For Internet Censorship: How Healthy Is It For Democracy?". 13 Apr 2012. 
  7. ^ "lose-battle-for-right-to-expression-on-internet". 3 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Spreading awareness on acid attacks through film". 24 July 2012. 
  9. ^ "How love got the better of India acid attack". 24 Jan 2013. 
  10. ^ "How love got the better of India acid attack". 24 Jan 2014. 
  11. ^ "Chhanv". 14 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "How love got the better of India acid attack". 24 Jan 2014. 
  13. ^ "Remarks at the International Women of Courage Awards". 4 Mar 2014. 
  14. ^ "Indian acid attack victim Laxmi, 24, who was disfigured by jealous boyfriend finally finds love". Daily Mail. London. 4 Feb 2014. 
  15. ^ "Acid attack survivor Laxmi’s spirit wins her a partner for life". 8 Jan 2014. 
  16. ^ "How love got the better of India acid attack". 24 Jan 2014. 
  17. ^ "Indian Acid Attack Survivor Finds Love – and a Job as a TV News Anchor". 6 Mar 2014. 
  18. ^ "Acid attack survivor Laxmi’s spirit wins her a partner for life". 8 Jan 2014. 
  19. ^ "Artistes protest government control over the Internet". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 23 April 2012. 
  20. ^ "The War for India's Internet". 6 June 2012. 
  21. ^ Subramanian, Sujatha (8 May 2012). "For the sake of free speech". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 
  22. ^ "TWO CYBER-ACTIVISTS END FAST BUT CAMPAIGN AGAINST IT RULES GATHERS PACE". 12 May 2012. 
  23. ^ "'Anonymous' to hit road for Web freedom protest". 9 June 2012. 
  24. ^ "'Anonymous' to hit road for Web freedom protest". 9 June 2012. 
  25. ^ "India: Hacking group protests against censorship". 9 June 2012. 
  26. ^ "India: Hacking group protests against censorship". 9 June 2012. 
  27. ^ "‘Anonymous’ hackers protest over India Internet laws". 9 June 2012. 
  28. ^ "'Anonymous' hackers to protest Indian Internet laws". 9 June 2012. 
  29. ^ "‘Says complainant: Trivedi’s cartoons insult Constitution". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 10 Sep 2012. 
  30. ^ "India cartoonist Aseem Trivedi's arrest sparks outrage". BBC News. 10 Sep 2012. 
  31. ^ "Indian cartoonist jailed for images criticizing government". 10 Sep 2012. 
  32. ^ "Mahesh Bhat". 12 Sep 2012. 
  33. ^ "Cartoonist gets bail, sedition rap may be dropped". The Times Of India. 12 Sep 2012. 
  34. ^ "Aseem Trivedi accepts bail, to be released today". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 11 Sep 2012. 
  35. ^ "'Aseem Trivedi to sit on indefinite hunger strike from today". 8 Dec 2012. 
  36. ^ "'Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi ends eight-day fast". 15 Dec 2012. 
  37. ^ "'Kejriwal requests, cartoonist Aseem Trivedi ends eight-day fast". 8 Dec 2012. 
  38. ^ "'BSNL website hacked by Anonymous India". The Times Of India. 13 Dec 2012.