Open, Unencumbered Internet is a Necessity

Open, Unencumbered Internet is a Necessity
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In a day and age, when the internet and related technologies are upending past paradigms – social, economic, commercial and even political- Kashmir remains in the grips of erratic internet connectivity. Notwithstanding, the gales of populism that have swept many parts of the world and where there has been a return of the nation state, so to speak and allied controls, the world we inhabit is defined by flows- of commerce, people, ideas, businesses, trade and capital. The success, (always in relative terms, of course), of a given economy and/or society depends on how deeply and smoothly, it is ensconced in these flows. All this has been fostered and engendered by the Information, Communication and Technology(ICT) revolution and the concomitant opening up of economies. The result has been the transformation, in more senses than one, of the nature of almost all domains of life with the internet integral to this. The flip side is that the more an economy or society is distant from these flows and networks, the more it will dip in almost all indicators. This holds a searing resonance for Kashmir. Admittedly and obviously, there is conflict in Kashmir but conflict is a constant and not a variable(s). So, conflict can neither be an excuse nor a reason for poor and erratic internet connectivity and communication in Kashmir. The irony is that while powers that be appear to be structurally loath and unable to work on conflict resolution but they work on variables like fiddling with and manipulating internet communications. There are both long and short term prices incurred in this process. Short term, students, professionals, businesses and other assorted individuals, for whom the internet is a necessity suffer. Examples galore can be cited here. Long term, the price that will be exacted is that as economies shift from bricks and mortar orientation to a more intensive knowledge economy model(s), Kashmir will not only be a laggard but will be structurally deprived in many, if not most domains. The need of the hour then is to create seamless and fluid internet communications systems in Kashmir. By its very nature, the internet is a medium which, kind of, resists control. While this medium is not value free, but it’s very utility and importance suggests that it should be kept free from encumbrances and control. As the 21st century advances and as the ubiquity of the internet demonstrates, information and even knowledge is being commoditized. To control, stanch or stem it means going against the tide.

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