Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter could give the Indian government extra leverage to crack down on critics—despite Musk’s stated aims to preserve free speech on the platform—due to Tesla’s business ambitions in the country.

Under its current leadership, Twitter has alienated the Indian government by repeatedly rejecting its demands to remove tweets critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party. It comes at a time when observers are warning that the country is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for Muslims and oppressed castes—especially women belonging to those groups—thanks in part to hate speech, threats and harassment on social media.
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But Musk’s Tesla, Inc., is currently lobbying the Modi government to reduce taxes on vehicle imports, which are preventing the electric vehicle maker from accessing a potentially giant market of customers in India.

“Elon Musk would be CEO of both a company seeking policy adjustments from the Indian government, as well as the owner of Twitter,” says Jessica Deere, the director of Washington D.C.-based tech watchdog Ranking Digital Rights. “There are certainly conflicts of interest there.”

Read More: Twitter Employees Worry About Elon Musk Ownership

Many, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, have wondered publicly whether Musk’s business ambitions for Tesla in China, its second most-important market after the U.S., will give the Chinese government leverage to demand Musk suppress the speech of critics of the ruling communist party on Twitter. Tesla’s incentive to keep the government happy in India will perhaps test even further how much Musk really means what he says about freedom of speech.

Last summer, Musk tweeted that Tesla wants to enter the Indian market, but can’t because “import duties are the highest in the world by far of any large country.” New Delhi has frustrated Musk’s ambitions by levying import taxes of 100% on cars worth more than $40,000, and 60% on cheaper vehicles. ”We are hopeful that there will be at least a temporary tariff relief for electric vehicles,” Musk added in another tweet. “That would be much appreciated.”

Tesla has proposed an import duty for 40% on electric vehicles, but reports in the Indian press say the government has asked for more assurances of investment in the country. “Still working through a lot of challenges with the government,” Musk tweeted in January 2022, after an Indian user asked him when Teslas would be available …read more

Source:: Time – Technology


Tesla’s Ambitions in India Will Test Elon Musk’s Commitment to ‘Free Speech’

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