India’s Net Neutrality debate explained in memes

NT Balanarayan
Apr 7, 2015 · 4 min read

Jealousy… is a mental cancer.
- BC Forbes, Founder of Forbes magazine

It all starts with jealousy

Someone at Airtel got jealous when they heard about the $19 billion that Facebook paid to acquire Whatsapp. It was more than the market cap of Airtel.

Then greed takes over

What do you do when you want to buy a boat and all these silly Internet messaging companies have all the money? You decide to make your customers pay extra for using these messaging app. The money of course goes to the buy-our-executive-a-yacht-fund.

The uprising

As expected the Internet was up in arms with pitch forks and funny hash tags.

Time to revert

So Airtel does the only thing it could. It does a 180 degree turn and gives some lame excuse for why they thought it was a good idea.

The bigger picture

While the rest of the Internet was celebrating the victory there were a few who were not entirely convinced about Airtel’s change in plan.

Sab mile hue he ji

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the “independent regulator” of telecom industry in India, then goes ahead and releases a consultation paper that looks like it was written by someone at Airtel. It was biased and the language was complicated for no bloody reason other than to keep us peasants (Internet users) out of the decision making process.

We can haz free Internet

The result was quite unexpected. TRAI and telecom companies did the unthinkable. They got all the Internet users in India to agree on something. Suddenly Bhakts, AAPtards and Congis were all upvoting each other on Reddit as they cursed telecom companies and TRAI. Still can’t believe how TRAI managed to unite them! A petition to Minister RS Prasad to stop the bill got thousands of signatures in a matter of hours. Netizens pooled in their effort to create a simplified version of the consultation paper that was easy to understand and did not have any explicit bias. RTIs are now being filed to find out the process that was followed in creating this extremely biased consultation paper. People are tweeting Indian startups asking them to make their point now so they don’t suffer later.

Free to screw the Internet

Airtel, net-neutrality-enemy-number-1, now rolls out Airtel Zero that makes Internet access free for customers as long as the app developers or service providers pay Airtel directly on behalf of the customers. While this might sound good as a consumer initially, this makes it extremely difficult for upcoming companies to get traction. Why would anyone pay to use a better product when a company is giving okayish products for free?

There is hope

Flipkart may have gone over to the dark side along with several other Indian companies, but it was heartening to read this opinion piece from Flipkart CTO Amod Malviya in favour of Net Neutrality.

Roll up your sleeves

That’s the story till now, but this is just the beginning of the net neutrality debate. Make it a point to read through the consultation paper. Then email your answers to the questions they have asked, to advqos@trai.gov.in before April 24, 2015. Don’t get weary yet, the battle has only just begun.

If you care about Net Neutrality and want to know more about it, visit NetNeutrality.in, Medianama or Reddit. Also watch this now legendary video about Net Neutrality from Last Week Tonight.

There is absolutely no form of copyright on this post. You’re free to re-post any content from this post as your own, as long as the objective is to spread the word about net neutrality among Indians.

NT Balanarayan

Written by

Salesforce consultant @saasfocus, ex-journalist and a casual gamer. Opinions are mine and don't reflect those of my employer.

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