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The Latest: Top stories of the day
1. India’s telecom regulator ruled against differential pricing in data services, effectively banning Facebook’s Free Basics programme and upholding net neutrality.
2. Pakistani-American Lashker-e-Taiba operative David Headley told a Mumbai court that there had been two unsuccessful attempts at attacking India before 26/11 and that Pakistan’s intelligence had provided support to the terrorists.
3. Six days after an avalanche appeared to bury 10 Indian Army men, rescuers have managed to pull out Soldier Lance Naik Hanamanthappa who appears to havemiraculously survived. Five more bodies have been recovered so far.
4. Police in Chhattisgarh have refused to file a First Information Report after goons threw stones and attempted to intimidate a journalist and Scroll.in contributor, who frequently writes about rampant abuses by the state. You can also read all of Malini Subramaniam’s reports from Chhattisgarh here.
The Big Story: Internet unfettered
India’s telecom regulator on Monday decided that it would not permit differential pricing in data services, effectively upholding the principle of net neutrality. The move has been lauded by internet activists, was described as “disappointing” by Facebook – whose Free Basics service has now effectively been banned – and a few commentators also said it was a mistake by the regulator to give in to the populist activism that was a big part of the debate over differential pricing.
The pushback against net neutrality has suggested that Facebook’s Free Basics offers the most persuasive way of connecting the unconnected masses, in a country where internet penetration remains low. This opinions sees the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s order as government intervention into a previously open market, thereby stifling innovation that might have expanded access to the internet.
The regulator, however, having looked into this concern concluded that differential pricing could affect the very structure of the internet, altering the openness of the web as we know it. Net neutrality calls for the full, open internet to be provided to everyone, not a balkanised version that would privilege certain providers, like Facebook or Airtel.Moreover, it doesn’t represent a sudden intervention into a previously open market: The Telecom industry already comes with numerous regulations and it is the stated outcome of India’s national telecom policy to ensure non-discriminatory and non-exclusive access. Telecom providers knew this going into the industry, and this order simply updates that to account for new forms of discrimination.
The Big Scroll
Everything you need to know about net neutrality – why we need to keep the web free. There are good reasons to be anti-net neutrality – but you need to really trust telecom companies. TRAI didn’t just ban Free Basics – it also cleared the way for internet that is actually free.
Politicking & Policying
1. Gross Domestic Product growth for this year has been estimated at 7.6%, up from 7.2% the last year, although the numbers continue to remain so murky that even the Reserve Bank of India doesn’t trust them.
2. Despite the allegations of sexual abuse, scientist RK Pachuari has been appointed to executive vice chairman of The Energy and Resources Institute, a newly created post just for him.
3. Tamil Nadu has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court asking it to take another look at GAIL’s gas pipeline project, in an attempt to prevent the pipeline from being laid on agricultural land.
4. The Shiromani Akali Dal claims that it is unfazed by murmurs from the Bharatiya Janata Party camp suggesting the party’s Punjab unit wants a split in the alliance.
5. The Congress and the National Conference have both said that they are prepared for elections in Jammu & Kashmir, as the People’s Democratic Party continues to deliberate over whether to continue with the BJP.
1. Despite the success of the International Fleet Review, New Delhi’s mentality remains stubbornly continental when it should focus on maritime concerns, writes C Raja Mohan in the Indian Express.
2. V Anantha Nageswaran in Mint cautions against slipping from the fiscal deficit path, saying it will only repeat the previous government’s mistakes.
3. The Tamil Nadu government must take back its order mandating prior permission for investigation into state corruption, writes RK Raghavan in the Hindu.