Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Facebook Director’s Comments on Anti-Colonialism in India Stirs Controversy

Narada Desk | February 10, 2016 10:22 pm Print


Marc Andreessen, one of Facebook’s directors, has caused a furore on Twitter with his controversial remark regarding India’s experience in the post-colonial era. That his comment came after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) verdict against the company’s free basics proposal, has made the position of the Silicon Valley tycoon a highly preposterous one.

“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for Indian people for decades. Why stop now?” Mr Andreessen tweeted. He had also argued that, “Denying world’s poorest free partial Internet connectivity when today they have none, for ideological reasons, strikes me as morally wrong,” and, “Leap of net neutrality from ‘carriers shall not charge some content more’ to ‘poor people shall not get free partial Internet’ = astounding.”

Even though, he has deleted the tweet later on, things went out of control with the many in the Twitterati community calling him ‘racist’ and ‘imperialist.’ In fact his colleague Benedict Evans spent most of today afternoon responding to such comments.

“East India Company” emerged as a sarcastic response to the post and the phrase began trending on Twitter in India by Wednesday afternoon.

The investor who s associated with many a big shots like Facebook, Twitter and others, is known for his frequent “tweetstorms” – long series of several tweets – pontificating on Silicon Valley start-ups, technology, and economy, among other issues.

However, a strong backlash to his today’s tweet had made him delete the post by saying that, “I hereby withdraw from all future discussions of Indian economics or politics. Carry on,” he wrote and soon added: “And for the record, I am opposed to colonialism, in any country.”

Osama Manzar, whose NGO Digital Empowerment Foundation works in areas of low internet penetration, said that TRAI had “saved” the country from another “invasion”. Responding to the tweet, he quipped, “It looks like Free Basics was an American invasion strategy to get into a country for large scale data collection!”

Freecharge founder Kunal Shah cautioned against taking offence. “I believe being offended is a sign of weakness and demonstrates insecurity. We should focus on proving people wrong with actions versus being sensitive,” he said.