Linking Students’ FB, Insta to HRD Not a Must: Centre Clarifies
The Modi government has asked colleges to connect their students’ social media  to the social media accounts of the HRD Ministry.
The Modi government has asked colleges to connect their students’ social media to the social media accounts of the HRD Ministry.(Photo: Meghnad Bose/The Quint)

Linking Students’ FB, Insta to HRD Not a Must: Centre Clarifies

In a move that will undoubtedly stir controversy in the days that follow, the Modi government’s Human Resource Development Ministry has issued instructions to all higher educational institutions (HEIs) to “connect all the students’ Twitter/Facebook/Instagram accounts with the HEI’s Twitter/Facebook/Instagram accounts, as well as the MHRD’s Twitter/Facebook/Instagram accounts.”

Already, questions are being raised within the academic circuit, as to whether the HRD Ministry’s move is an attempt by the central government to track and police the social media accounts of students.

For example, Ayesha Kidwai, a professor at JNU, told The Quint, “This is ridiculous, and it is a clear attempt by the government at implementing surveillance on even the personal spaces of students.”

In a response to The Quint’s queries, the HRD Ministry has clarified that the move to connect students’ accounts will not be a compulsory one. The HRD Ministry stated, “It is not compulsory. They need not share if they don’t want to.”

The Quint has accessed a copy of the letter, which is produced below:

A copy of the letter by the HRD Ministry to all higher educational institutions in India.
A copy of the letter by the HRD Ministry to all higher educational institutions in India.
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)
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What the Letter Says

Each institution of higher education is expected to select one of its faculty/non-faculty members as the ‘Social Media Champion (SMC)‘ of the institution.

  • The Social Media Champion will be expected to set up (if not already present) and operate the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts of the institution
  • The social media accounts of the college/university will then be required to be connected to other HEIs as well as the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)
  • Thirdly, it is the job of the Social Media Champion to ensure that the social media accounts of all students of the college/university are connected to the social media accounts of the institution as well as to those of the HRD Ministry.
  • And finally, the Social Media Champion will be required to publicise positive stories about the HEI and retweet positive stories about other HEIs.

All HEIs have been given time till 31 July 2019 to submit the details of the person they are appointing as their Social Media Champion. Each institution will be required to submit the name, designation, mobile number (with WhatsApp), email address and Twitter account of their Social Media Champion.

HRD Ministry’s Response: Not Compulsory to Share Social Media Accounts

The Union HRD Ministry has responded to The Quint’s queries about the letter. The following are the questions posed by us and the response from the ministry.

The Quint: What is the objective of connecting the social media accounts of students to the social media accounts of the HRD Ministry? What possible purpose can that serve?

HRD Ministry: It is to share good practices and motivate each other by best performances. Period.

The Quint: What does the government plan to do if some students refuse to connect their social media accounts with that of their colleges and/or the HRD Ministry? Will action be taken against them?

HRD Ministry: It is not compulsory. They need not share if they don’t want to.

The Quint: What is the guarantee that the government will not use this move to track and police criticism of the current dispensation and the political establishment by students? How and why are students expected to believe that this move will not result in mass surveillance?

HRD Ministry: This is only for sharing the good news. Anyone who understands how social media works would know that sharing of Twitter handles would not enable accessing the accounts. This is elementary knowledge.

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