Note : Kindly excuse the typos! Written in a flow with no interest for editing. Kindly do read through the links and do comment here. Post is long as the context, the uproar might be lost when someone reads it later in time. Kindly read if you have 15-30 mins in hand. And yeah if you follow up the links and are not lazy, it is even longer.

Context (What?):

The groundswell on the internet about Net Neutrality in India primarily started with Facebook’s initiative to have certain sites free as part of internet.org (About , Wikipedia – detailed document of the issue). If you are in India and you go the website you see a response in Hindi (India’s national language) – which doesn’t work if you are not on a Reliance network. (I have a translated version here)

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 3.27.53 AMWhich seems very odd and unfair. Feels like it is a walled garden where the site is available only for certain India Internet users using the Reliance Network. Also do check out Wikipedia link on ‘Facebook Zero’ which aims at getting more users where people who are so called ‘poor’ or in other words not used internet before due to cost being an issue can use the internet for free. It offers a stripped down version of Facebook apart from essential sites that Facebook thought would be useful. Where even ‘photos’ on Facebook would be charged at a different or regular rate that the user falls or subscribes to.

I feel Airtel responded to this with an Airtel Zero Plan in order to compete with Reliance. The plan (unlike Facebook’s initiative) completely flipped the funnel and was a great idea which said if the business wants to pay us (Airtel) for the bandwidth – then it is free for the users of your business/site! Airtel had initially actually done – Wikipedia Zero project to access Wikipedia for free over SMS / USSD. The Airtel Zero plan was marketed as as follows :

  • Airtel launches ‘Airtel Zero’: A win-win platform for customers and marketers
  • Customers benefit: Customers enjoy free data access to a variety of mobile apps signed up with ‘Airtel Zero’Compelling marketing tool for marketers: App providers pay for customers’ data charges, thus giving customers toll-free access to their mobile application
  • For startups to enterprises: An open marketing platform that empowers companies ranging from small businesses to large conglomerates with an equal opportunity to reach out to customers in India
  • Spurs national agendas: Contributes to Government’s focus on Digital Inclusion and ‘Make in India’

Kindly note – the pitch is a very positive one saying it helps everyone! And helps the nation and giving access to specific sites for users on Airtel with the hope that people will switch due to this initiative and the perception that there is good intention at the end of it for Airtel to retain / get more users.

When Facebook Zero or internet.org or Wiki Zero were launched everyone was quite. However, Airtel Zero opened up the whole issue for debate.

This started a movement of protests from large number of online Indians protesting against such initiative. Some links that are for net neutrality that make sense and don’t make sense {I leave it to your judgement :- )} and my opinions in the sub bullet :

Enough of articles that created or support the movement.

Kindly note, I see the net neutrality debate in the US (Obama video, FCC 2015 proposal, Nytimes articles – 1,2 and 3) is different and is even more severe as to what is prevailing in India. Basically it comes down to the following according to my understanding (I totally agree to this if telcos are doing this) :

  • Blocking of sites is not right
  • Charging extra for certain sites either from the business or users is not okay
  • Giving variable bandwidth between services or sites should not be allowed
  • Even if there are competing services being provided by certain sites or services on the internet that the telco or service provider is engaged in, there should not be extra cost i.e a byte is a byte. This means Skype should not be differentiated if a telco is offering voice services.
  • Lack of transparency for the customers and under the table deals between certain companies

However, giving the users different plans according to internet speed is not part of the debate nor is giving only certain sites for free apart from the basic internet package. People also site Obama’s video and the new laws enacted by the FCC. Where the claim is internet has to be viewed as an essential good, like electricity or water. This is not the moot point in India’s current net neutrality debate.

My View about the debate in India currently

I am against the current net neutrality debate in India. People are jumping the gun saying giving certain sites for free if the business decide to pay bandwidth is not right. The basic claim is if we allow this or don’t protest now, we are allowing or giving leeway for possible doomsday scenario for the telcos sometime in future where they can discriminate between certain websites or businesses. Also, this will lead to new startups or internet / mobile companies not being able to compete in a unequal world and hence stopping the innovation culture. In simple words, the rich get richer! I see it as an incentive for business to use their websites and visit their website with no cost. They are not saying start-ups cannot get onto the platform.

Metaphorically from the real world cases : it is like Amazon or Flipkart saying “Free Delivery / Shipping”. Some sites can afford it and others cannot. We can then say transportation is a basic need and hence there should not be variable pricing between petrol / diesel. All cars or taxis should be charge at the same rate of bus tickets or train tickets in general or AC. Some people will say these metaphors don’t make sense but that is how I see it. There is a convenience charge and there is a business advantage. Let’s face it! However, in case of essentials goods, the rates are fixed by the government in India. The oil companies for instance. Most of them are public sector companies and the government keeps them alive. Best case being Indian government rescuing Air India. Which has been making losses for ages but my tax money is been sunk there without my approval with no hope to helping the sector!

Current scenario in India is not of discrimination. It is about certain companies paying money to the telcos so that users can get their content for free as they have figured our their business model to make money in other ways i.e. Ads or profitability due to scale. It is not about charging more for certain sites. Start-ups cannot afford that as they have not figured out how to make money. They will achieve scale in some time to make money. Plans like Airtel Zero provide an app store like advantage where they can be featured and there will be better visibility. However, search engines and word of word still exist to give them visibility  Net equality still remains, you can still access the ‘other’ sites at the same cost depending on your plan and the choice to speed (in this case 2G / 3G /4G or whatever Gs!)

My thoughts/understanding overall :

  • It is okay for telcos to offer certain sites for free if it is due to debatable ‘goodwill’ or businesses bearing the cost of the bandwidth business or government (say IRCTC and others) instead of users. Ultimately someone has to bear the cost?
  • Of course, users cannot demand that if a site is free on a certain telecom network due their policies then their network should also follow suit. They are welcome to choose/change their network and with mobile number portability in India there should not be any issue on phone numbers.
  • Some of the article that raised the question and primarily were thought leaders in the groundswell (1 million+ mails were sent to Government ultimately protesting against this!) They have viewed this with a very narrow lens. 1 million people mailing is primarily due to herd mentality. 1 million people who are intellectual and are economically well have sent the email and I don’t think they have bothered to send the mail after understanding the real debate. Couple of posts by influential people and they should be right – let us also join the wagon.
  • Current issue is of not blocking. (Kindly correct me if this is wrong)
  • Not charging extra for certain sites or throttling of bandwidth (I am not sure if this is being done). After all, telcos make more money if people are using more bandwidth. Telcos are making money as lot of people are using Youtube on 3G, helping them to charge more or provide packages with higher cost based on data download.
  • The main issues came up due to WhatsApp not Airtel Zero or Facebook Zero or internet.org! The new feature of free calling opens can of worms. They already killed the SMS or MMS business. Telcos and operators felt threat. Primarily due to superior technology (managing huge users efficiently).
  • Prime reason MMS didn’t take off between the telcos in the world as operators across the world did not come to agree that they will work out the pricing across the world. In fact they priced it too high. Even SMS – the actual cost of sending an SMS is almost close to zero in the telco network. Basically they were greedy and not innovative to understand lowering the cost will only help them. While I was working at Netcore around 2008, we got blocked from sending free SMS as the operators saw their monetization going down leading to lower ARPU. Media reports (Airtel, Vodafone and Rajesh‘s posts) – which violates the net neutrality point. There was no movement then as users felt it was not internet.
  • The governments are also to be blamed as the spectrum was sold at exorbitant charge and they promised the telcos they will have regulation to protect the telcos by giving them pricing and other advantages in terms of VOIP not being legal and having interconnect charges for SMS and Voice calls. Albeit throttling innovation in the telecom business.
  • They way I see it – government is the only party to be blamed. They got greedy under the pretext that it will help them in getting tax money which can be used to help the poor with subsidies or the political leaders making money!
  • They way I see telcos giving free internet for certain sites are in fact being innovative. Let the market dynamics decide who will win – are people going to move to other service providers due to rate differential or better quality of service or presence of service when one travels in India or abroad or unfair advantage that some sites are free on their network !?

Articles I would like to point out against the argument (just googled and I am happy to see them – media journalist who have put their views clearly and have not succumbed as most of media has done) :

However, I am disappointed on the comments by people to these posts that are leading the movement. They just doing +1 or simply saying telcos are assholes

What the government needs or could do to help everyone (I am yet to read the TRAI consultation paper – possibly next post I will give my opinion on that. Missed the deadline on 24th but who cares! At least I don’t) :

In fact, what people should be really concerned is what is in the news recently as of yesterday : Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone & Idea want WhatsApp, Viber, Skype under regulation. Basically they are asking and implying to their users –  you can’t have your cake and eat it too! It TRAI agrees – the entire movement goes bonkers. Well have to see if MODI delivers – abki baar aap ki sarkar … :-)

Update :

  • I tried to fix the typos and have added some words or sentences in the post. However have not changed my stance.
  • Telecom operators warn of six-fold hike in data tariffs – the article makes sense. Telcos are building their cases on why the services like Skypes i.e. VOIP can be allowed on their network. However, I wonder how they came up with 6x number. Can some one say why 6x and not 10x or 100x?

Harshad Leaves Facebook

I got this from Harshad today on Facebook. Interesting :-)

Hey friends!

I’m just quickly emailing you from my facebook account before I delete it. I’m still available on orkut, just that I can’t stand facebook anymore.

I’m leaving facebook because
– I don’t use it much
– I don’t like the complicated user interface
– I don’t like giving applications access to my personal information just to view one message from a friend.
– My friends have emails, and its easier for me to contact them that way.
– Facebook doesn’t allow me to simply delete my account – I SUSPECT FOUL INTENTIONS. FACEBOOK IS NOT TRANSPARENT.
– Copyright grab issue… as a person creating content, I cannot stand this.
– Gut feeling – I never wanted to join, but friends forced me to… and now I’m realizing I was right… need to quit ASAP.

Hope you understand, kindly email me whenever you feel like talking.


Domain and Hosting options?

Someone in the BCB thread asked for people’s recommendation for domain and hosting solutions. Folks in the group responded with list of urls to contact and all they had to qualify was its good. From my experience, I bought a domain for myself six months back and I am playing around in it in kind of stealth mode.

Domain from http://www.net4domains.com/ and hosting at http://dreamhost.com/ (got a free url for a year there). Touch wood my experience has been good in terms of there has been no downtime and everything works. Things I have played around with this online are:

  • Got google for office account to work
  • Get command prompt access to install drupal, wordpress etc.
  • Try Facebook apps
  • Try hacking general code whenever I get time

Basically a space to hack around when i get time and interest in the internet world!! rapid protyping you see :D

But I think there are somethings to think about before going to a specific vendor and buying domain& hosting solution. To name a few:

  • Support from the Vendor
  • What purpose you want to use the hosting for
  • Uptime through customer
  • Cost (this is not much of a differentiator)
  • Payment Options … ;P (matters if you are in India!)

The list of Urls provided in the mail thread from people were:


What are your thoughts? I would like more options here … :-)

Love and Communities

Lovely post by Dave on Chemistry of Love.

Short of it:

That’s all we seem to know so far. But it’s enough to suggest that we can’t help ourselves — love is not something our minds have any control over. That’s both delicious and terrifying, … And when we lose it, like an addict going through withdrawal cold turkey, there is no greater agony.

Long of it:

There is still a lot of controversy about what happens in our bodies when we love, or fall in love, and to what extent the chemical soup of love determines what and how we feel. But there seems to be a consensus emerging.

What we are learning is that the chemistry of erotic love is different from that of the intellectual, emotional and sensual aspects of love. Erotic love also seems to be quite different in men than in women: in women it is less provoked by visual stimuli, and takes longer to arise in the first place and then longer to be slaked. Other aspects of love, from the intellectual love of ideas and of imaginings and of learning, to the emotional love of friends and partners and children and nature, to the sensual, aesthetic love of beauty, art and music, tend to me closely interwoven, less ‘separable’ from each other than from erotic love.

love is a consequence of a veritable cocktail of at least four different chemicals being released by the body, in an astonishing number of locations.

Phenylethylamine gives us the feeling of unbounded euphoria and energy we feel, especially when we first ‘fall’ in love.
Dopamine and neopinephrine give us the less ecstatic feeling of well-being and bliss, that wonderful mellow feeling that all’s right with the world.
Oxytocin is often called the ‘cuddling’ hormone — it is what makes us want to touch, caress, embrace and protect the one we love. It also increases the nurturing urge, and lowers our trust threshold, sometimes with disastrous results when we find that trust betrayed.

The cuddling and caresses in turn increase the production of phenylethylamine, dopamine and neopinephrine, so the self-reinforcing overdose of these hormones can be overwhelming, transformational.

Cruelly, over time, our bodies build up resistance to these four chemicals, and, except for those so addicted they abandon those they love to seek new thrills that start the cocktail over again, we begin to go through a slow withdrawal. We re-become our old selves.

Nature, and our bodies, having hooked us with the mind-blowing cocktail, now keep us hooked with a more enduring, low-key, matter-of-fact addictive drug. Testosterone and estrogen add the spice to reinforce that attachment, to keep us connected to the same people instead of wandering. Sometimes, anyway.

And my comments on Dave’s post about Communities based on Love:

Nice Concept but some of the points made in the comments are valid.

A Community with a purpose – would fall into something I call ‘complexity science’ domain.

One should have a few basic rules and others guidelines. Things I would list would be around 3 or 4 things say:
1. Love (if defined in a broader way it would include Trust, Honesty, responsibility, sensitivity and expressiveness)
2. Curiosity (same way lots of them when coupled with Love and Curiosity are derivative in nature i.e Intelligence, Passion, Imagination, Creativity)
3. Strength (ability to Deal with the unexpected, loss, randomness)

I think self-sufficiency will be something that will evolve. But its should absent for the community to grow initially. There needs to be constant activity – either CONSUME and CREATE

Would like to know your thoughts over email … Keep writing on this line of thought :-) I am curious :P

link burrp!

Facebook + iPhone = UltraCool
Airtel ties up with Affle for improved SMS-Telecom-News By Industry-News-The Economic Times
FrontlineSMS: The complete entry-level SMS text messaging system for NGOs and charities
SMS your ECG to ER
m-learning – 2 years28082007 Alexander Hayes » SlideShare
“If it doesn’t work on a billion phones, don’t bother” » SlideShare

Starting up …
blog.pmarca.com: Luck and the entrepreneur, part 1: The four kinds of luck
Innovation Forum
Talking with the Receptionist, Pausing When You Speak (Leadership Success) – Knowledge@Wharton
The Flip Side of Entrepreneurship by Glenn Kelman
Bruceclay.com – How to Bounce Back From a PR Blunder
The Official Palm Blog: A Message to Palm Customers, Partners and Developers
On a day of market turmoil;words of wisdom from Warren Buffett
Management Methods | Management Models | Management Theories
Startup Weekend
Media – Photo and Film
Announcing PFCOne : The Online Film Festival for One Minute Movies : PassionForCinema
FlashFlavor » Blog Archive » i’ve got a hotstick
gemma & justin barkhuff » about us
Whazzup Mumbai !!! (Bombay): Film Clubs in Mumbai
Benji’s Studio Lighting and Posing Tutorial
The Morning News – Still Life

General Fun
Learning by living: dare to buy
AlterNet: Are Men Threatened by Funny Women?

RhymeZone rhyming dictionary and thesaurus
Nano City
AdMob – AdMonitor
NAMI | “A Day in the Life” Contest

Social Networking and Communities

Unit Structures: New Essay: The Vibrancy of Online Social Space
White Label Social Networking Solutions Chart, Part II
My Social Media Toolkit : [chrisbrogan.com]
How to Save the World
Brad’s Thoughts on the Social Graph
PR 2.0 – Silicon Valley
Main Page – Facebook Developers Wiki

Personal Productivity

Get Off Your Butt: 16 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re in a Slump | zen habits
Peaceful Simplicity: How to Live a Life of Contentment | zen habits
Web Worker Daily » Your Information Manifesto: 21 Tips to Deal with Info Overload
100 Mile Diet: Local Eating for Global Change » Getting Started guide

BCB rock starts …

I am going to convey the feel just with help of pics!


What is Barcamp? 70% people are first – timers => thats cool!

Intro sessions …


V.I.Ps – who needs them => put them in a corner!


Engrossed Barcampers …

Audience – theres no audience – everyone is participating!!



spirit of Barcamp

I have telling people about attending the upcoming Bangalore Barcamp this weekend and obviously the question is – what is it? Also by chance I happened to read Mark Cuba’s interview in IEEE Spectrum on ‘YouTube is doomed‘ (one of the coolest tech magazines according to me!) in which he says:

Just have fun and be good at what you do. Most people don’t make the effort to be the best at it, you know? They just try to make sure everybody thinks they’re the best. But most people don’t do the work. That’s what I tell people: if you’re going to do something, be the best at it. Take chances and learn from your mistakes. Put yourself out there to let people criticize you, and then learn from it. That is a never-ending process. You gotta keep on learning, always be learning. And most people don’t do that.

It’s like sports. If you can’t shoot with your left hand, you’d better practice. Business is no different; if you want to get better you practice. You want to get better at coding, you read more code, you write more code. You let people pick at your code, and you compare your code. You argue with people. You put yourself out there. You say, “Here’s where I stand.” It’s one thing to put it in a bar conversation; it’s a whole other thing to tell the world, “This is exactly what I think: you are a moron if you buy YouTube.” I could be proven wrong. Worst case is that I learn something.

The concept of Barcamp is on very similar lines. The Bangalore Barcamp Wiki kind of almost nails it for starting (but you gotta come for one to get the hang of it!):

Barcamp is an ad-hoc gathering born out of the desire for people to meet up, share, exchange ideas and possibilities in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants.

Barcamps turn around the notion of a formal conference by eliminating the distinction between speakers and delegates. Everyone is a participant, and is equally welcome to propose a discussion, speak up or add to on a topic they are familiar with. Barcamps are organized and evangelized largely through the web by a community driven, collective organizational process using a wiki as a tool. A Barcamp consists of sessions proposed and scheduled each day by attendees, mostly on-site and “on the fly”, typically using white boards or paper taped to the wall. While Barcamps are loosely structured, there are rules. All attendees are encouraged to present, facilitate or contribute to a session. Everyone is also asked to share information and experiences of the event, both live and after the event, via blogging, photo sharing, social bookmarking, wiki-ing, and IRC. Anyone can initiate a BarCamp, using the BarCamp wiki. Attendance is monetarily free and generally restricted only by space constraints.

I would also like thank the core group and organizers & volunteers to put the effort for bringing everyone together. Read Shourya’s take on why BCB 4 is bound to rock.

There are close to 1000+ registrant this time and I think it might just turnout to be one of the largest ‘conference’ forget ‘unconference’. What I think you can definitely expect is:

  • Excitement
  • Enthusiastic, open-mind people
  • Load of Randomness
  • People fighting to get some structure ;-)
  • Interesting intense discussions on Lots of things
  • Network, Network, Network ….
  • Starts Ups blooming
  • Points of view to make to think out of the Box

My advice – Come, Explore, Participate and if you like Camp (and sponsor the Bar ;-) if you want :D )!