Is Data New Oil? Reliance and BJP/RSS Efforts to Monopolize Data in India


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Interesting Reliance Telecom lost just 22 crores in the last quarter of the financial year. Though it is still to become the number one telecom company in India, its strategy is clear. It would like to work in tandem with the Government on its flagship program JAM which stands for Jan Dhan (money), Adhaar (tracking and profiling the citizens), and Mobile connectivity (data of the individuals and their patterns and interaction).

After the OIL the Reliance is focusing on JIO: it’s SIM card that provided free internet connections promising high speed. The calls will be free forever and the data will be charged. In fact, the technology that Jio offers is based on data transmission. It is going for brutal expansion in terms of mobile towers and also customer base with merger with other small players. Recently Reliance merged AIRCEL into it making it the fourth largest telecom company in India.

The development of Reliance is important as it is close to BJP/RSS and the last election saw huge support from the Reliance to the BJP/RSS.

The social media applications have been penetrating deeper into India. The Whatsapp groups have mushroomed in millions and have become careers of messages, ideologies, and propaganda. The interactive social media plays an important role in forming opinions and it is one of the media that has been increasingly used in the elections.

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If reports are to be believed, millions of JIO sims were distributed all over UP. They are free and everybody is tempted to have one for the data was free then. Within a short time, JIO subscriber base has increased to over 100 million, still less than 10 percent of the India’s population, but it is significant.

The rise of Reliance Telecom is interesting to see and the shift from Oil Mining to data mining has been an interesting twist in the overall plan of reliance.

Data is really new oil, though it is not yet driving the vehicles, but sooner it will play role in driving everything from vehicles to the Government.

The Reliance is planning its data centers across India that will become one point solution to everything. It plans to house the data generated by the Government itself and this will include from education to taxation. If that happens, then the Government will be effectively run by the Reliance.

The times are changing because of the technological disruption unleashed by the internet, internet of things, and social media.

It is now possible to device voice-enabled cars, computers, and even voice can be cloned. It seems that everything can be cloned destroying the privacy of the individuals and communities. It is a brave new world and no one knows what is going to happen, but when the human beings are promptly shifting to their digital clone such as their mobiles and electronic devices, nothing remains immune from manipulations.

The field of data mining and big data is new and it might need strong people’s control and private control.

Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist

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