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Why I Support Digital India on Facebook

Supporting a cause on Facebook is the way to go, unless of course, the cause is endorsed by the Prime Minister of India, in which case, either you are an angel or a devil, depending on your political leanings.

Recently, the Prime Minister met Mark Zuckerberg, and asked people to change their profile pictures to be overlaid with a tricolour and a network representing digital connectivity. As you can probably tell from my Facebook profile page, I changed my picture.

Then stuff hit the fan. Apparently, buried in the code was a reference to , a contentious business venture by Facebook to provide ‘free’ internet to poor people in India. Apparently, what Facebook wants to do is provide Facebook for free, which allows Facebook to tap into a demographic that has since eluded it, and which will also prevent competitors from opening up shop in India – we won't have our own Renren.

Now, I support net neutrality, but I don't think that is about net neutrality. A big company wants to provide a service for free, do these commies want the big bad capitalists to provide everyone internet for free?

Of course, Facebook has clarified that the reference was a programming error.

The most recent criticism levelled at us who support the Digital India campaign is that we have no idea about how this idea will be implemented. To such criticism, my response is this – I support the cause of Digital India. The implementation details will be messy, with no right answer. The first step is realising that we need to make India connected and digital, just as we realised at some point that we wanted to be free from British oppression. Would the same people have criticised the Indian National Congress or other champions of our freedom movement for not having an idea about how the freedom would be achieved?

I believe that computers and software have a great potential to make our lives better, but we need to use them the right way. Some steps are already underway. I filed my taxes this year entirely on my computer. I can see the government at work in real time, online. These are good steps in the right direction, hence my support. I don't want to hook up with someone by swiping right. That is a digital India I won't rush to support.


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