The internet is nobody’s property and everyone has right to access it

By JAHANGEER LATEEF WANI

I recollect the words reverberating in my ears coming from each and every TV and radio channels and different broad communications sources, ‘Business sector in Kashmir have lost all faith’, ‘Business in Kashmir largely hit due to strikes’, ‘’Business exercises incapacitated in Kashmir because of strike’, ‘Strikes and shutdown in Kashmir has crippled small traders and businesses’, Where Will the “Shikara-Walas” and “Rayda-Walas” go? Who is going to feed their families?

These questions strike my mind every single passing day. I am also a business-man, why can’t I hear anybody saying about my losses? Why are those thundering media people noiseless?  And chiefly Why is Govt. mum? Ohh I neglected to let you know, why are these individuals acting hard of hearing and unable to speak, because it is not their cup of tea to be with true always, not all and sundry have guts to talk fact.

I am a common businessman who runs a computer and internet service providing centre in my vicinity. Being in the rural area what individuals go through every day to get these services is not even felt by the persons sitting on high elegance chairs, I am running a computer centre where computer services are provided and instructed also. What’s more, there are thousands like me on every edge of the Kashmir valley.  Every other day internet services are snatched constraining us to be ravenous and our families as well. Shouldn’t something be said about our businesses, are not we part of the society, thousands of computer and internet related service providers, café business, computer shops, online workers, contractors, who are absolutely trustworthy on internet and are also lone bread earners of their families. Where are those boisterous voices which were always crying about business devastating because of strikes?

What about our business which is halted every other day, is there anybody before whom we can make tint and cry? Only we can see is a big heading “ In compliance to government orders, internet services are blocked”.

We are working as semi-governmental agencies all over the country named as COMMON SERVICE CENTRES (CSC) or DIGITAL SEVA KENDRAs whose network currently adds up by total number of 269000 (Two lakh sixty-nine thousand) CSC Centres all over India, and more than 5000 in J&K only.

The COMMON SERVICE CENTRES (CSC) is a key foundation of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), endorsed by the Government in May 2006, as part of its commitment in the National Common Minimum Programme to introduce e-governance on a gigantic scale. Plan of The Govt of was to create a network of CSCs throughout the country. So they become the access points for delivery of various e-governance services to rural and remote locations and town areas where the connectivity of the internet is insignificant. The CSC would provide high quality and savvy video, voice and data content and services, in the areas of e-governance, education, health, telemedicine, entertainment as well as other private services. A highlight of the CSC is that it will offer web-enabled e-governance services in rural areas, including application forms, certificates, and utility payments such as electricity, telephone and water bills.In addition to the universe of G2C (Government to consumer) services, the CSC Guidelines envisage a wide assortment of content and services that could be offered.  The Scheme creates a conducive domain for the private sector and NGOs to play an active and dynamic role in the implementation of the CSC Scheme, CSC scheme is run by CSC operator (called Village Level Entrepreneur or VLE, in this way turning into an accomplice of the government in the development of rural India.

Although functioning as semi-governmental organizations we are constantly prepared to provide every facility to the people to make the dream of Digital nation true.

But I wonder how can we attain this vision without the basic facility of the internet?

In this 21st century everybody is aware of the importance and significance of the internet in daily lives, and let me write it in bold letters, the Internet is nobody’s property and everyone has right to access it.  For what reason would it be advisable for us to endure all the losses? Snatching of internet services not only hits hard at our back but on the other hand creates a lot of troubles among students who are totally dependable on the internet, besides this everyone in today’s society pays enormous sums for internet services to service providers, what about that loss. The substantial companies which are having a turnover in millions are not hit by this but a common man whose monthly wage ranges from 2000-6000 Rs. What about those students who wish to submit online forms for various admissions and those unemployed youth who want to fill online job applications, but are left between a rock and a hard place.

Seeing the other side of the story, Govt. is stating due to law and order situations we need to snatch the internet services so as to stop rumors. What about the rumors spreading after shutting down of internet at local levels and since there is no source to affirm its genuineness one has to believe in them. He could have hunt down its validness on the internet which is already dead. Other than this we can clearly observe at the level zero the adolescent are engaged with studies and other exercises on the internet but due to snatching of the service they become jobless henceforth are out on the road and the outcome result is better comprehended by all of us. The snatching of the internet itself makes a frenzy that there has something terrible happened and depresses people too much more extent than the rumors, this depression of youth can then be clearly seen on the streets and roads.

While the world is battling for net neutrality, free and unhindered access to the internet worldwide we are still fighting a war for even paid internet services. More than a million people have voted in favor of net neutrality. Social media timelines these days are abuzz with updates on the fight for freedom of the Internet. Some of you may have even come across requests to sign e-petitions and shoot e-mails to ensure continued free access to the World Wide Web and people are strongly advocating net neutrality.

Any confinements set on access to the internet are equivalent to a restriction of freedom of expression. And this freedom of expression also includes my freedom to be heard for this.

As of now, the only thing I can see is, the watchdog seems to be barking up the wrong tree. Despite the fact that there are many heads behind this and think about national security superior to me, but as a common man I can better understand what we are going through while respecting your ideas of securing the nation by snatching our freedom to access the internet.

JAHANGEER LATEEF WANI is currently working as VLE (Village Level Entrepreneur) of CSC (COMMON SERVICE CENTRE) and is National Award winner of year 2016 (Honored with Highest civilian honor award 2016 at Constitution club of India New-Delhi on 15 December 2016) for providing the services to rural people and working for up-liftment of rural society. Author can be contacted at jahangeerlateefwani@gmail.com

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