Inclusion or exclusion in Digital India, Net Neutrality will be the pathway

Inclusion or exclusion

Rashi Varshney
New Update
k sridhar

Sridhar K


The essence of net neutrality lies in money, and access. Currently, anyone who has an internet connection can search,visit sites on the net and the ISP will charge the user for each byte they use as per the data plan they have. But can you think of charging different rates for different bytes of content accessed? This is akin to saying electricity used for fan should be charged differently from that of an AC.

Consider a situation in which the country’s largest (and most expensive) universities pay telecommunications companies for preferential treatment and 'fast lane' service. Where would that leave the smaller colleges, with lesser budgets, and more affordable tuition fees for the students who need them?

The demographic of India is such that the formal education system cannot support the rapid population growth.  Additionally, the absence of adequate educational institutions in many parts of the country, especially in the North East, gives rise to the need for studying online. Students are given the option to focus on competitive exams of their choice, while they follow a flexible study schedule. Developments like Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) provide unprecedented opportunities for students to get additional high quality education and certification, often from universities of repute.  Above all, distance education is affordable.


Now, if the ISPs win and differential payments are allowed as per regulation, the cost of distance learning would go up tremendously. More time a student spends online, the higher his or her internet bill would be.  It would reach a stage where the economic benefits of distance education ceases to exist. Students would refrain from pursuing distance education anymore since it becomes unaffordable. For the country, it means a lower literacy rate and a larger percentage of unemployable people. Net neutrality becomes a necessity to reach benefits of education to the economically and geographically challenged – residing in remote areas.

Net neutrality works towards supporting Internet usage freedom. In its absence, start-ups would not be able to establish themselves; learning and innovation would be stifled.  It becomes the telecom authorities’ responsibility to protect interests of the larger audience. Think of all the unskilled / low skilled young people who will stay unproductive, hopes and dreams of the underprivileged nipped in the bud. In the larger plan of an education drive where will inclusion, digital equality and digital India go? Time to stop and think.

The author is Senior Vice President-Online Skill Services at TalentSprint, and views expressed are his own

education experts net-neutrality digital-india