Adult Webmastering In India: Part 1
In my first installment, I will describe some of the various issues that Indian Webmasters face when trying to operate an adult site, point by point, below:
As per the Indian Information Technology Act 2000, Chapter XI Para 67, the Government of India clearly considers online pornography as a punishable offense, stating the following: "Publishing of information which is obscene in electronic form: Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and also with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees. For more information on ITAct 2000 please visit www.mit.gov.in/itbillmain.htm.
Although until now, from what I know, there haven't been any convictions under this Act. The only conviction related to this has been that of a Swiss couple indulging in child pornography (they are out of jail now after serving only half of their term). In any case, the conviction rate in India for any crime is only around 6 to 7 percent. Simply put, a reasonably well off adult Webmaster should be able to afford a good lawyer and be safe.
Not a single political party, both on the national level as well as regional level is in favor of legalizing pornography. Surprising, considering the fact that India is the second most populated nation after China and India happens to be the land of the Kamasutra.
The telecom infrastructure here in India has improved considerably in the last decade or so, especially in the last five years. Cell phone rates are amongst the cheapest (if not the cheapest) in the world. And there are already around thirty-five million wireless phones (both GSM as well as CDMA), and this number is growing at the rate of around 1.5 million new connections per month, which is probably the fastest growth rate in the world.
Most Internet users in India connect to the Internet using a dial-up connection through a normal landline phone. Broadband is still in its infancy, and is quite expensive (and slow) for the price you pay right now. It's around Rs. 1,000/ (approx $21.75) per month. But the new government which took oath a couple of weeks ago promises to bring down rates to around half of that in the near future, and India's new IT & Telecom minister has also said that India will leapfrog 3G and go straight to 4G wireless technology.
This indirectly is good news for the online adult industry.
Webmasters definitely must be targeting both Indian and foreign surfers, as well as a third, very lucrative category – the NRI (Non-Resident Indian) community. These groups are as follows:
1) Indian surfers: Indian surfers would be targeted for obvious reasons. Currently there are about 4.1 million Internet subscribers in India. An increasing number of Indians have credit cards, although credit card penetration is quite low thanks to very high interest rates varying between 35 to 40 percent. Also, there is the fact that most credit cards issued by Indian banks work only in India and Nepal, so in other words, you can't use them for online transactions unless the seller/merchant has a "payment gateway" with an Indian bank. The few credit cards that will work online are "International Credit Cards" which are affordable only to the high income group (people making Rs. 10,000 and above, or approximately $210 USD minimum monthly income). But thanks to a booming economy, this number is rapidly increasing.
2) NRI's: Non-Resident Indians, or those Indians staying out of India, number at around a whopping 20 million. They are obviously a target group not only because of their numbers but also because most NRI's are quite well off economically.
3)Foreigners: Thanks to a growing economy and a booming software sector, India and Indians are being looked upon in a new light. Couple this with the fact that Indian women are amongst the most beautiful women in the world, and you have a sizeable number of non-Indians interested in Indian adult content.
Now that you know a little bit more about the legal, political, infrastructure and marketing issues that our industry faces on the Indian subcontinent, in this article's conclusion, we'll take a look at the challenges and opportunities facing adult Webmasters in India. Stay tuned!