Mark Zuckerberg: Make Internet connectivity a fundamental right in India

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says when people are connected, accomplishments are easy.

Terming connectivity as a basic human right and a fundamental challenge, Facebook co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg called for breaking down the barriers of infrastructure, affordability and social barrier (content in local language) in order make internet reach all.

Delivering a keynote in the two-day-long Summit, which aims to make Internet access affordable for all, Zuckerberg said: ?When people are connected, accomplishments are easy… Connected people have better access to technology, education and jobs.?

Focused on enabling the next five billion people without Internet access to come online, the founding members of the project include Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung.

The partners are collaborating on developing lower-cost, higher-quality smartphones and deploying Internet access in under-served communities.

Batting for Internet that works for all, Zuckerberg, who began his two-day visit to India today, added: ?We want to build an internet that works for all and is an effort to bring basic internet services to all.?

He also said that free basic internet access should be like dialing 911 in the United States or 100 here in India.

Zuckerberg said the next generation has the opportunity to bring the world to India and India to the world. The whole world being robbed of creativity and ideas because so many people in India are not online yet, he further added.

“Technology should to serve the whole society and connectivity cannot be a privilege of only the rich and the powerful… When the benefits of technology are shared across the whole society, that’s when we can make the big leap,? he stated.

On his first visit to India, Zuckerberg said he is excited to help the Indian government in its ambitious Digital India programme.

The Facebook co-founder said the the social networking giant, is working extensively in rural India to enhance connectivity and in this connection he is meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.

“India is an amazing country with unlimited potential. It is a place of big ambitions and Facebook is deeply committed to the country. We see lot of growth for us here. Tomorrow I’m meeting the Prime Minister. He is committed to connecting

villages with the digital world and we are excited to see how Facebook can help,” Zuckerberg said here.

He said that two thirds of the world does not have access to internet primarily because of one of these barriers. While 10-15 per cent of the world does not have the basic network coverage, 2.5 billion people in the world live on less than $3 a day and hence it is not affordable to them. He also said lack of relevant content in local language also acts as a barrier for many.

Speaking about 69 per cent Indian’s who do not use internet, Zuckerberg, whose Facebook has 108 million users in India, said that their survey suggests that a majority of them do not know why it will be beneficial.

He therefore called for providing some basic internet services at an affordable rate to people and through Facebook has been able to connect 3 million people over the last year.

Pointing that lower cost of internet may be of some help, he said that it may not be sustainable for the operators do so.

Zuckerberg also announced to launch a contest to drive the development of applications and services in local language and said that they are creating a fund of $1 million to help developers built them to serve all kind of people.‎

“Since 2007, Facebook has been working on new apps and services in local languages. About 65 per cent use Facebook in a language other than English, including 10 Indian languages,” he added.

Zuckerberg’s visit to the country comes after the Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s trip in June. He is also the third high profile CEO of a US-based firm, after Microsoft Corp’s Satya Nadella and Amazon Inc’s Jeff Bezos, to visit India in the last couple of weeks.

Get live Share Market updates and latest India News and business news on Financial Express. Download Financial Express App for latest business news.

First published on: 09-10-2014 at 14:53 IST