Marc Andreessen, the hot shot American venture capitalist and a Board Member in Facebook, tweeted yesterday about colonialism and Free Basics upsetting millions of Indians. Even Mark Zuckerberg distanced himself and expressed deep regrets about the whole episode.
Incidentally, today, Facebook has officially shut down Free Basics in India.
A Facebook spokesperson said, “Free Basics is no longer available to people in India,” This decision to ban Free Basics by Indian Govt. will definitely have a ripple effect across 30 other countries, where Free Basics is currently available.
The Tweet Which Offended 1 Billion Indians
It seems Marc Andreessen has very little respect or knowledge about India’s violent and tragic past as he suddenly tweeted yesterday: “Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for Indian people for decades. Why stop now?”
This was in response to TRAI’s recent decision to ban Free Basics and all such discriminatory data plans in India. Marc was clearly frustrated from Indian Govt.’s decision and the tweet amply proves that. He also tweeted, “Do you genuinely not know how slow India growth was after 1947? And that this was because of misguided govt policies? Seriously?”
It would be really amusing for Marc to know that before being ‘colonized’ by Britishers, India’s contribution towards global trade was 23-24%, which came down to 2-3% under Britishers.
In case he felt that by choosing a discriminatory, and monopolistic scheme like Free Basics, India can be once again, so called, ‘colonized’ by billion dollar corporations; then I am afraid he made a grave mistake.
As Mahesh Murthy tweeted, “Now @facebook Board Director @pmarca suggests being colonized was good for India & we should’ve let Fb do so:)”; it became clear what was going inside the minds of investors behind Facebook and their intentions of propagating Free Basics in a ‘third world country’ like India.
Mark Zuckerberg Is ‘Upset’
Later, Mark Zuckerberg expressed regrets over Marc’s tweets regarding a sensitive issue like colonization and linking it with Free Basics.
In a statement, he said, “I found the comments deeply upsetting, and they do not represent the way Facebook or I think at all.” He also said that “personally”, India is important to him and the company.
Even Marc had to issue a statement, apologizing for the Tweets, as he said,
“I apologize for any offense my comment caused, and withdraw it in full and without reservation. I will leave all future commentary on all of these topics to people with more knowledge and experience than me.”
Later in series of tweets, he tried to restrict the damage his initial tweet had caused!
Of course we need not react and show anger on a person based on his 140-character views on the history of a 2000 year old civilization.
But the chain of events clearly showcased the biased, narrow minded viewpoints of an American VC.