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Delhi Wine Club
Blog: Pitching for Google and Wine

Posted: Thursday, 19 January 2012 14:40

Blog: Pitching for Google and Wine

Jan 19: The recent efforts of the government of India and the proposed limitation in the US would have serious ramifications on the free knowledge super-highway, with a miniscule possibility of affecting wine knowledge in India, the need to control the permeation into excess obscenity and terrorism notwithstanding.

The recent case in the High Court in India putting the service providers like Google, Yahoo and Facebook in the dock if they do not monitor and remove objectionable matter on their sites is not only impractical, but they also have a valid point in their defence that their role is only to make the super highway and they cannot be held responsible for someone driving drunk on the road on that highway and killing people.

One needs laws to define the illegality involved  and we need to police such acts of terrorism and excessive obscenity. But it has to be done in a sensible manner. Otherwise what prevents the government opening its eyes one day and declaring that wine and spirits are a ‘no-no’ according to the Indian Constitution under Section 47 and any site using the word ‘Wine ‘ should be penalised.

A search for ‘wine’ in Google gives you 942 million entries- about 28% less than the 1.2 billion population of India- and it does it in .28 seconds- in the blink of an eye (incidentally a blink takes longer- .30to.40 seconds according to Wikipedia, another of those modern day revolutionary and commendable websites) . Revolutionary or awesome, you could describe it in as many ways as your knowledge of English language vocabulary allows you to do.

When people ask me how I have been able to promote wine with the fervor that I have in the past decade, I give 90% credit to ‘internet’ and ‘Google’- my equivalent of a good winemakers’ belief that 90% of a great wine is made in the vineyards. Not only have I been making good use of the two channels for a couple of decades to learn more about wine in more ways than any structured course could ever do for me, I have been able to disseminate the information globally through this medium.

When I founded the Delhi Wine Club  ten years ago in 2002, my sole purpose was to create wine drinking culture in India and educate the people through the web medium. I knew that a membership of 160 people drinking wine would not be able to spread the message about wine as a lifestyle and healthy product. Having dabbled in the internet for over  2 decades, first as a pioneer in introducing US built internet modems in India and then designing websites for clients, including the on line marketing model, I knew the power of internet and Google when I uplinked the website before even launching the first wine event.

Internet was slow and not easily accessible because of slow speeds, lower bandwidth and the costs. But the website was noticed by many wine professionals overseas, again through the help of Google, Yahoo etc. Thirsty for offering help in the Indian wine industry, Indian Wine Academy was born in 2003 for which again I had the website uplinked immediately.

Thanks to Google again, I have been able to reach out to a much wider audience on the planet and despite refusing to pay any money for search engines to get our name listed higher up in Google (that to me, is like canvassing for an award), you can usually find us in top 10 entries while searching these Search engines. If the website received an award as the Best Website in 2011 from Comitato Grandi Cru d’Italia about whom I knew nothing, till I ‘googled’ them when informed that I had been nominated in the Best Foreign wine Journalist in 2010 for the first time, a lot of the credit goes to Google.

In fact, if I was ever to get an Oscar for wine promotion and asked to make a small speech, besides God and my wife for the support I have received, I would certainly thank Google (also Wikipedia, if I could thank a few more people!)

Having reached thus far, it would be impossible to live in a world without Google as much as without a mobile phone, TV or frankly, the internet unless one decides to go live in the mountains as an ascetic with a few cases of wine as company.

Last I knew, we were living in a democratic country where freedom of expression is still cherished and makes us feel superior to many other countries. We are not living in the autocratic China where the dirty beast could be hidden behind some great invisible wall and only the beauty was displayed to the world. No one can deny the legitimacy of monitoring terrorism although opinions on sex and obscenity may be divided- this website is no platform to delve on such issues. What is obvious is that a set of rules and regulations should  be in place. After the laws are framed, the policing would unfortunately have to be done by the government and its police (we already have mobile phone conversations monitored for terrorism and what not). It is implicit that these websites under fire would have to agree to  a transparent and active role to support the governmental efforts.

Expecting Google to keep track of 942 million articles on wine when our police cannot even catch and keep the infamous Bunti Chor in jail, is certainly unfair. And we are not even talking about 506 million entries on ‘sex’, 811 million for 'gun', 389 million for ‘bomb’ and 126,000 for ‘terrorism’- all indexed in front of your eyes as you blink your eye.

While totally supporting the government on the need to curb the possible spread  of terrorism and excessive obscenity on Google or the social media sites, we would certainly give a Thumbs-up for the yeoman’s service to humanity for creating an infra-structure for information flow-not only in the area of wines. We hope the government would start thinking of devising legal methods for catching such culprits in the net through what are currently known as ‘cyber crimes’ laws rather than threatening to close these websites or punishing their officers, unless they can do the impossible.

Subhash Arora   


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