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Narasimha and net neutrality

Hah, is this going to be another Q and A on net neutrality? Aren’t there enough already? We can hear you say that.

To be sure, there are many primers around, explaining lucidly the various talking points involved in the debate and clearing misconceptions, if any. Our endeavour here is to not to lucidly explain anything. We have just muddled around so that you will go and read the other primers at least now.

We will begin with the obvious, what is net neutrality?

Hair loss is typically considered the domain of aging men, but this equal-opportunity condition — which has many causes, but the chief one being teenage children — can affect virtually anyone who has a serviceable head. Everyone sheds about 100 hairs each day as part of the normal hair growth cycle. This principle doesn’t apply to Anil Kapoor though, who actually gains 100 hairs each hour.

Stop. The question was about net neutrality, but you are going on about baldheads…

Exactly. This is what will happen when net neutrality is imperiled. Eventually, you may end up reading what is actively and aggressively promoted rather than what you actually seek. As the economist Maynard Keynes famously said, ‘in the long run, we are all dead, mostly by reading relentless spam messages from Dr Batra’.

To give an example from the real world, just imagine if publications stop publishing news that are relevant to the public and instead push stuff that are commercially promoted…no, wait. Wrong example. How silly of me, what I actually meant to say is there can be no real example from the real world. Net neutrality can only be about internet.

Net neutrality still sounds hazy and who threatens it?

Net neutrality implies that when you are on the internet, access to all open content and applications is equal and no website can be blocked or given preference to. I hope you will agree with me when I say that the main villain in the scenario has to be your office system administrator who controls what you do or don’t do on the internet. Telecom experts are convinced that we must all write an emergency petition to the TRAI, who, after consultation with all the stakeholders, will write to your HR department and remove your systems admin from the post at once.

Hahaha. I am just joking. The simple point is your internet service provider should be kept out of what you watch and read on the internet. Just as well too, considering the stuff that you mostly follow on the net is…okay, we will not go into that here. But remember we know what you —- yeah, I am talking to you only — do on the net mostly.

In general, lack of net neutrality is good for your phone companies (internet service providers). And the thumb of rule in life has to be: Anything which is good for phone companies is necessarily dire for the rest of humanity.

I kind of get net neutrality from the consumer point of view. But what is wrong with individual companies getting into deals with the internet service providers (ISPs) and pushing their products/services on the net? Sounds legit, no?

Think Flipkart. Think Ola. They too once were small startups. But thanks to the inherent democracy on the net, these companies got the space to grow, and now they are big-billion enterprises, servicing large swathes of customers and, in the process, making tons and tons of losses. Losses? Yes. But don’t mind them. But hey, they have kickass apps.

Internet business attracts venture capitalists, who armed with modern management degrees, know not only to spot failures but also have a knack to fund them further.

Just for the sake of argument, can there be a case against net neutrality?

Memes on Vijayakanth.

Seriously, I will willingly sign a petition, even possibly sign it with my blood, against net neutrality if the ISPs promise to charge, nay fleece, all those making and forwarding those silly memes on Vijayakanth.

It beats me as to why there is a need to create separate memes/jokes on Vijayakanth when there is already one for the ages: Narasimha.

As I see it, you have been more or less flippant and irresponsible on a serious subject like net neutrality. If you support it, why humour around it?

That brings us to the most important point: Net neutrality essentially boils down to safeguarding freedom of expression. To say things in a manner you want to. That is what journalism was also about. But we seem to have lost it there. We don’t want it to happen on the net, too.

Also, proponents of net neutrality won’t mind taking a joke or two. They are not journalists, you see.

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