Launched earlier this week, Airtel Zero is an open marketing platform that allows customers to access a variety of mobile applications for free, with the data chargesbeing paid by start-ups and large companies.
    
However, many are opposed to this move, who say the service violated the principle of net neutrality as it offers access to some apps and not equally to all.
    
"First and most important point, Airtel Zero is 'free' for all our consumers and open to all marketers. Yes, open to all -– big or small," Bharti Airtel Director Consumer Business Srini Gopalan said.
    
He added that the company is seeing a "big and somewhat unrelated debate on net neutrality" with regard to the product.
    
"While opinions from critics of the product are very welcome, it's pertinent that we set the record straight. Since we announced Airtel Zero on April 6, over 150 start-ups – with a majority being small start-ups – have contacted to enquire about the product," he said.
    
Gopalan said the initiative will provide start-ups an "equal opportunity" to run with the "big boys" as their marketing costs would be reduced by almost three quarters.
    
He said the debate over the past few days indicates that a a large number of people are still not clear on what net neutrality is all  about.
    
"This gives an opportunity to the so-called experts to make various as well as baseless arguments. While their point of view is important, we should have a more informed and nuanced debate without painting a picture that is based on rhetoric rather than reason," he said.
    
The principle of the net neutrality concept implies that equal treatment is given to all Internet traffic and prioritisation based on payment is seen as discrimination against others.
    
Over the last few months, operators like Reliance Communications and Uninor have tied up with players like Facebook, WhatsApp and Wikipedia to offer free usage to consumers.
    
Experts said the lack of guidelines in this area could fuel formation of more such "partnerships" in the days to come, thus offering preferential access to some services in conflict with the principle of net neutrality.
    
Advocating the Airtel Zero platform, Gopalan said this will help drive Internet adoption through free usage and also make companies and app developers equal partner in the process.
    
"It will also drive innovation in the Internet and mobileapp space by providing a cost-effective and non-discriminatory platform to smaller companies in particular. This will truly drive ‘Make in India, For India’," he said. Policy needs to be same for Mukesh Ambani and common man: PM Modi
     
New Delhi: In a terse message to industry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accused the private sector of still being stuck with "legacy issues" like tax terrorism and selective exemption and said that "red tape" can't be removed only for Mukesh Ambani and not for a common man.
     
The Prime Minister also said his "job is not to spoon- feed anyone" and the industry can come on board if it fits into the government's policies or else stay where they are.
     
Stressing that his government is working for the common man and his priority is the poor of the country, Modi said in an interview that the industry has to come forward to take the benefits of the process that has been set in motion for good governance.
 
"The government's job is good governance for everybody. My government will make policies, if you fit into it, come on board, or stay where you are,” he said.
     
"My job is not to spoon-feed anyone. The private sector of the country is still stuck with legacy issues of governance - these include tax terrorism, duty inversion and selective exemption,” he added.
     
"That is why we tried to address many such issues during the Budget of 2015-16 and to correct them across the board. We know that such steps are important for creating jobs and opportunities for millions of Indians. I repeat my assurance to all: If you take one step; we will walk two steps for you," Modi said.
     
He was replying to a question on the business community being upset that not much has changed in terms of ease of doing business and about a spate of tax notices, which have been recently issued to a large number of foreign investors.

Modi's comments assume significance in the wake of eminent banker Deepak Parekh having said recently that not much had changed on ground in the first nine months of his government and there was little improvement on 'ease of doing business'.
     
Similar comments have been made by some other industry leaders as well, including Harsh Mariwala who tweeted earlier this week that "sheen is falling of Modi govt in the context of promises, and gradual delivery. Need to move fast..."
     
Interestingly, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya also said recently that the sentiment that nothing has changed on the ground was very much there, although a turnaround was visible in the economic growth.

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