Update: I think this letter has only gotten more relevant now… with the FCC planning to repeal Net Neutrality in India. Well, this letter was written with India and Facebook’s FreeBasics in Context.. But I think it’ll be relevant to any battle for Net Neutrality out there.
Yeah! I know that the storm’s gone and the dust’s settled on Free Basics, Facebook’s ambitious program in India to provide Free Internet Services! But the issue is far from over! And one look at 16-year-old Likhitha Chintareddy’s (aka Me) letter to Mark Zuckerberg is a proof of the fact that efforts of Digital Colonization will continue!
Well, I’ve directly copied and pasted the Facebook Status from my Timeline. So here it goes:
Well, I wrote this letter to Mark Zuckerberg before Marc Andreeson derided the independence of India with his totally stupid comments. But I never got any reply (Not that I was expecting any, to begin with!) And the surprise is that my letter started with the very same story that Andreeson is facing the song for!
Hello, Mr. Zuckerberg.
I’m writing this message without any hope of getting a reply. But still, I just wanted you to hear my voice.
My name is Likhitha and I’m a sixteen year old girl from India. I actually wanted to tell you a story that happened 200 years ago in my country, and which us kids are made to repeatedly remember as an integral part of our history.
In 1498, the Portuguese landed in India through the Sea Route and then began the Colonization of my country, wherein the rulers were there, but they were puppets. In fact, some of the rich aristocratic Indians supported the rise of the Colonists like the British, French and Dutch. We were under the rule of the British for over two centuries. Were under their rule because we were obsessed with the technology and luxuries that they had and we didn’t.
So, can you blame us that now, in 2015, we aren’t scared of being colonized again, this time digitally?
I’m only an ordinary school-going girl, but I can’t help but draw an analogy between the history and now.
Besides, Reliance group, unoffcially, has a great reputation for being extremely capitalistic and business-minded, which is the reason why people like me are unable to come to terms with the thought that they are coming forward to do something as good-willed as this.
What you want to do is nothing wrong, Sir. But the channel through which you have approached us is, I’m afraid, very disastrous.
You were right in your Op-Ed. The poor of the India needs the basic services of Internet. But first, please try to understand that not all of them can afford the bills which Reliance will levy upon them. Instead of that, why not try to tie up with a Government-run Organization like BSNL? That will, I think, add credibility to your good intentions.
We are a nation that still hasnt recovered itself from the shadow the British Rule. We are a nation which is trying to develop itself. We are a nation where many girls and boys like me want to emulate your success. We are a nation where our parents dream of the same dreams that you dream for your daughter.
We are not obstinate. We are just cautious.
Sir, give us a chance to let us dream and to solve our problems by our own. Because only when there are problems, there are solutions. And the problem which you aim to solve for us, let’s do it together. With the people.
I have dreams for my own future, Sir. Where my voice isn’t stifled. Where I can wake up to a world that isn’t clamped down a set of limitations.
I want to think big. And grow big. We all want to do that.
And I trust that you are the better one in the both of us to think of a solution to THIS problem.
Thank You and take care sir!