If  you  are  neutral  in  situations  of  injustice,  you  have  chosen  the  side  of  the  oppressor  –  Desmond  Tutu  

Neutrality: To be or not to be

Vol.  III,  No.  17,  24  April  2 015  

“Net   Neutrality”   debate   is   one   of   it’s   kind.   The   beauty   of   the   debate   is   that   all   the   parties   are   playing  
“Damsel  in  distress”.  As  an  end  user,  I  am  confused  and  so  would  you  be.  I  have  decided  to  maintain  my  
neutrality   on   the   debate,   knowing   very   well   that   staying   neutral   in   a   situation   means   siding   the  
oppressor.  Interestingly,  in  this  case,  the  big  question  is,  “Who  is  the  oppressor”?  
Take  1:  All  those  who  chose  to  side  with  the  end  users,  are  
better   placed.   Most   television   channels   and   print   media  
virtually   smashed   Airtel   Zero   and   Internet.org   for  
providing   a   platform   to   the   so-­‐called   powerful   lobbies   of  
the   companies   willing   to   spend   bucks   to   provide   the  
services  for  free  to  the  users.  The  argument  against  these  
companies  is  that  only  the  “BIG”  companies  have  that  kind  
of   fortune   to   spend.   What   about   the   start-­‐ups   and   the  
 
small   entrepreneurs   who   wish   to   become   “BIG”   in   the  
future.   Some   critics   go   on   to   say     “Flipkart   would   not   have   Source: http://www.wordstream.com/images/what-isbecome  so  big  had  they  been  throttled  by  platforms  such   net-neutrality-video-blocked.jpg  
as   Airtel   Zero”;   an   allegation   that   Airtel   has   strongly  
refuted   by   reaching   out   to   its   employees   and   the   customers.   Some   people   have   interestingly   put   across  
questions   like   “Whose   internet   is   it   anyway”?   How   can   the   telecom   companies   act   as   ‘Gatekeepers’   and  
deny  the  basic  access  to  freedom  of  Internet.    
Take  2:  The  companies  caught  on  the  wrong  foot  have  an  opinion  of  their  own.  They  have  alleged  some  
section   of   the   media   to   mislead   the   public   by   spreading   rumors   about   “Net   Neutrality”.   They   have  
persistently  maintained  their  stand  that  this  is  nothing  but  a  ‘Toll  free’  platform.  It  would  not  throttle  
the   speed   of   few   but   will   lead   to   access   for   many.   The   urgent   need   to   provide   such   platform   is  
substantiated   by   numbers.   The   percentage   of   internet   users   in   India   ranges   between   15%   to   20%   as  
per  different  estimates.  These  numbers  provide  a  huge  scope  for  platforms  like  these  to  fill  the  void  and  
convert  the  dream  of  ‘Digital  India’  into  reality.    
Internationally,   the   developed   countries   have   almost   taken   a   stance   not   to   tamper   the   market   forces  
but  countries  like  Chile,  Norway  and  Netherlands  have  already  blocked  such  moves.  In  India,  with  the  
number   of   participants   and   the   emails   sent   to   TRAI   in   this   debate   swelling   every   day,   whatever   the  
result,  one  thing  is  very  sure.  The  companies  providing  ‘World  Wide  Web’  are  themselves  caught  in  the  
‘Web’.      

Written By: Dilpreet Singh,
Faculty of Marketing, CBS

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