The social networking whiz kid Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook and one of the richest and most influential personalities around the world, presently in India on a two-day visit, launched his pet project Internet.org in New Delhi on Thursday. His expressed mission is to open up the world with affordable internet connectivity, although that is not his domain. Next on his itinerary is a meeting with the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, on Friday. Earlier this year, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg had visited this country looking for new markets. She had also met the Prime Minister. Incidentally, Facebook, along with Twitter, was a major part of Modi’s prime ministerial campaign kit, in the absence of appropriate tools within the country.
One of the important issues that are likely to be discussed at Zuckerberg’s meeting with Modi is the latter’s commitment to connect and network the villages in India – the Digital India programme, in which Zuckerberg sees unlimited potential to expand his social business in this country as a consequence. It is as such not clear what special role the American hyper kid will have in providing simple physical Net connectivity in rural India!
He has found that over one billion people of India are not connected to the Net, that is, most of India, or a sizeable section of the world population. He said that at the moment in India there are at least 85% people who are living in areas that are not part of some network or other. He believes that the very basic impediment for these people to be connected through internet is economic but the social barriers have perhaps assumed even greater proportions.
During the visit he will be holding forth on the content and usability of project of internet.org. One of the main motives of the summit was to quicken the process of creating and using value added services and content that can be created in India itself. With this project Facebook will also look to increase its presence in the market for internet users in India, which is yet to reach its fullest potential.
On the first day of his visit Zuckerberg stated that Facebook shall be providing a fund amounting to at least a billion US dollars for encouraging people so that they can come up with apps in regional languages. They could also develop apps that are highly helpful for a wide range of users such as farmers, women and students. The social media giant feels that everyone should have access to free internet and this fund is basically a progression of that thought. From 2007 onwards Facebook has been working in this regard and created several services and apps in local languages of India.
Enhancing rural connectivity
Mark Zuckerberg feels that with greater connection among people it would be easier to accomplish things that may have only been a matter of imagination before or just considered impossible. He stated that Facebook has been working in great detail in the rural areas of India with the end aim to improve overall connectivity. It is quite heartening to know that Zuckerberg feels when people are able to gain better access to technology there are other benefits such as better jobs and improvement in standards of education.
(* Image Attribution: Guillaume Paumier (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Guillom)
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