Largely Lost in the Debate (and the Diatribes) over Indian PM Modi’s Visit to Silicon Valley Is a Complex Issue That Should Resonate with Americans

ACADEME BLOG

In the September 17 issue of the New York Times, Manu Joseph argues that the Modi government has been “Protecting the Internet, but Depriving India’s Poor.”

Joseph highlights the fact that about three out of four Indians have never accessed the Internet because they cannot afford to pay for an Internet connection—even though a very large percentage of less affluent Indians do have mobile phones.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg introduced what he framed as a solution to this problem:

“In February, Facebook and its partners introduced Internet.org in India, a diminished but free Internet for the more than 100 million mobile subscribers of Reliance Communications. . . . So, millions of Indians now have access, in seven languages, to dozens of websites and applications, including BBC News, Wikipedia and, of course, Facebook.”

That “solution” created something of a firestorm because it introduced “post-imperial” elements into what was already a complicated…

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