When tech-CEO and founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg offered the nation free internet access, India thanked him by saying “No thanks, Zuck!”
In a country in which only 15.1% of the population are online (according to non-official figures), Zuckerberg’s initiative Internet.org, which provides access to free services like information of health care and agriculture, was received with less than open arms.
“India deserves better” was the message many newspapers blared out. Yet, isn’t free access to limited information better than no internet at all?
The tech-billionaire defended his initiative, citing a case where an Indian farmer would now have access to weather information, commodity prices, and investment advice, all of which would lead to a better business and higher profits.
Apparently, for India at least, Zuckerberg’s gift is not good enough, and is an attempt to control the population and create a monopoly on information.
Whether the project will go ahead and provide people with the basics of the 21st century or not is now in doubt.
So, has Zuckerberg badly misunderstood a cultural trait in which the Indian people do not wish for access to anything at the cost of their freedom? Or are the people of India throwing away a free gift which could create real positive change and connection hundreds of millions of people to the power of the web?
We’ll see. As for now, Zuckerberg’s intentions are being called into question, and the plan looks like it could potentially derail.