Google boss Eric Schmidt is currently in India, and while speaking on the nature of Internet in the country, Schmidt stated that it is time now that India decided what kind of Internet it wants – an advantageous open Internet or a regressive closed one.
In a brief article on the Times of India, Schmidt opined that the most impressive Internet innovations in India will not come from big companies, but will be aided by Indians solving local issues. “If India plays its cards right, we'll soon see Indian engineers and Indian small businesses tackling Indian problems first, then exporting the solutions that work best,” he noted.
He supplemented his statements with the most relevant and recent Indian examples; one of them being Finance Minister P.Chidambaram's recent Google+ Hangouts session. Schmidt cited this example to put forth the point that Internet has been playing a key role in initiating such serious, mature conversations at a distance, and added that “this” had not been possible before.
Open Internet's the way
While speaking on the many areas where Internet has been progressive, Schmidt said that because of Internet, it has been possible to spread knowledge across a wider space. He said that Internet has bridged the gap and has “connected great teachers to villagers across remote parts of India.” He said that Internet allowed Indians to use YouTube to get through to lectures from Ivy League professors.
He did not miss mentioning the Women Entrepreneurs on the Web programme that he says has allowed professional women to connect better. “… they video-chat, swap tips and build their businesses in an environment that suits them,” he said. Schmidt strongly believes that India is capable of benefiting from the growth of the Internet and it is something that other countries have realised too, or are about to realise. Interestingly, here he points out, ” In all the places i've travelled to, i've yet to see a country whose situation worsened with the arrival of the internet.”
On a more crucial note, Schmidt added that India agrees that investing in Internet is as important as investing in roads or telephone lines. However, he stresses on the question again – “which internet will it invest in, an open or closed one?”
He also moves on to urge the government to focus on allowing Indians to use the Internet to improve the country, rather than being pessimistic about it. He said, “If people in power are overly pessimistic about the internet, their pessimism will be self-fulfilling. In seeking to control all of it — including the good parts that are working well — they'll stop good Indians from doing great things.”
According to Schmidt, a society does better in the presence of a free and open web, where there is good technological progress and where information can be spread and consumed freely.