iSPIRT Response to Kiran Jonnalagadda

UPDATE: I erred, Sharad’s update here

This is an iSPIRT response to @jackerhack’s unsubstantiated allegations that iSPIRT is running a trolling campaign. Sharad Sharma, co-founder of iSPIRT, named in these allegations is in the US for a medical emergency in his family. As of this morning, Eastern Standard Time, Sharad has categorically denied these allegations. We will further investigate the confusion around the alleged link of mobile number and clarify all outstanding questions. For the moment, we are prioritizing the well-being of Sharad and his family.

We want to categorically state that the allegations against iSPIRT coordinating and/or promoting any troll campaign are false and the evidence presented is a deliberate misreading of our intent to engage with those speaking against India Stack.

In our Fellows meeting held in Feb & April, we addressed the issue of the chatter around India Stack. Our volunteer, Tanuj Bhojwani, led the discussion and we outlined our strategy for dealing with our detractors. The slide in question is clearly titled “Detractor Matrix.” The slide outlines how we classify those speaking against India Stack, and how we are engaging with them. We called one category of people “informed yet trolling”, a category of people deliberately misleading people, despite understanding the nuance behind the debate. An explanation of the effect is given in the slides itself, but Kiran ignores it and uses this one phrase to allege that we are running an entire anonymous trolling campaign. All volunteers who attended the meeting can confirm the same.

The next slide shows how we address those speaking against India Stack, and our focus has been on engaging our volunteers who have positive stories to come out in the open and say them. For the “Informed Yet Trolling” category, we encourage volunteers to respond to these IYT Twitter handles directly from their own personal handles. At no point do these slides or the content of the meeting recommended or required anonymous trolling from any of our volunteers. Kiran’s motivated misrepresentation of the slides perhaps speaks to his biases against iSPIRT.

At iSPIRT, we have always followed a code of ethics that prioritizes transparency. This is the reason Kiran has access to our slide deck which was not made private, and was sent to the 200+ members of all [AT]

We are aware that some volunteers and their friends have created an anonymous campaign to Support Aadhaar. This is not a troll campaign, but an informational one. It is also not an iSPIRT campaign.

The fact is that today’s discourse has become very polarizing and we are caught up in that. The attempt by the ant-Aadhaar and anti-IndiaStack lobby to wrongly link ISPIRT with trolls is disheartening. However, there is no escape from this. After all, there is “politics of technology platforms” (do read that section in our 2017 Annual Letter if you haven’t done so already). It’s hard to bring about systemic change in the ecosystem without encountering some resistance and unhappy campers. We are doing real work as committed conflict-free volunteers and will stay that course.

Thiyagarajan M(Rajan), Fellow iSPIRT

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