Citizens' Issues
Net neutrality: Flipkart walks away from Airtel Zero platform
E-commerce giant Flipkart on Tuesday said it is "walking away" from the platform Airtel Zero and is committed to the larger cause of net neutrality.
 
"We at Flipkart have always strongly believed in the concept of net neutrality, for we exist because of the Internet," a statement issued by the e-commerce company said.
 
"We will be walking away from the ongoing discussions with Airtel for their platform Airtel Zero. We will be committing ourselves to the larger cause of net neutrality in India. We will be internally discussing over the next few days, the details of actions we will take to support the cause," the statement added.
 
Bharti Airtel recently launched Airtel Zero, an open marketing platform that will allow customers to access mobile applications at zero data charges.
 
Flipkart stated that over the past few days, there has been a great amount of debate, "both internally and externally, on the topic of zero rating, and we have a deeper understanding of the implications".
 
The company also said it will be working towards ensuring that the spirit of net neutrality is upheld and applied equally to all companies in India irrespective of the size or the service being offered and there is absolutely no discrimination.
 
Net neutrality means that governments and internet service providers should treat all data on the internet equally - therefore, not charging users, content, platform, site, application or mode of communication differentially.
 
Amid a huge hue and cry in social media over net neutrality, Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday that a panel examining the issue will submit its report by the second week of May to help the government take a comprehensive decision on the contentious issue.
 
The entire process of a committee of experts going into the pros and cons of the issue will benefit the government in making comprehensive decisions, he said.
 
"This is the reason we are doing it independent of TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India)," Prasad added.
 
The six-member panel, which will conduct the study and submit its report, has been set up the department of telecommunications (DoT).
 
In March, telecom regulator TRAI released a paper inviting comments from users and companies on how over-the-top services should be regulated in the country. It has asked stakeholders to send suggestions by April 24 and counter-arguments need to be submitted by May 8.
 
Congress leader Ajay Maken also said that his party supports net neutrality and Internet freedom must not be compromised.
 
The US Federal Communications Commission has defended its stand on net neutrality and its commissioner Mignon Clyburn said: "The rules will ensure that the internet remains the great equalizer of our time."
 
N. Chandramouli, chief executive officer, Trust Research Advisory, publishers of the Brand Trust Report, said: "From a brand point of view we can already see it is impacting and hampering the equation with telecom brands such as Airtel, decided in December 2014 that they would charge more for calls made through services like Skype and Viber, but had to roll back the decision after outrage on social networks."

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CBI finds nothing to prove graft in 35th National Games
The preliminary probe by the CBI into the allegations levelled over a massive corruption in the conduct of the 35th National Games in Kerala has nothing substantial to prove, a source said.
 
The source, who did not wish to be identified, told IANS that the probe was based on a complaint filed by CPI-M legislator V. Sivankutty.
 
"We have not been able to find anything to substantiate the allegations for which a CBI probe was sought. Since the Centre has also funded the event, we also looked into that aspect. The final report will be submitted to a court next month," said the CBI source. 
 
The budget of the event was Rs.611 crore and the games were held in seven districts of the state from January 31 to February 14, 2015.
 
Things turned hot for the organisers ever since a section of the media here went hammer and tongs against them after it was found that the event management company selected was a sister concern of the leading regional daily in Kerala. 
 
Many reports of alleged corruption surfaced in the media. Following such reports, Sivankutty approached a court, seeking a preliminary Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe. 
 
Jacob Punnoose, chief, National Games, told IANS that CBI officials went through many documents as part of their preliminary probe.
 
"What must not be forgotten...ever since the concept of the games village came, despite building many infrastructure projects for the event, the 35th National Games turned out to be the cheapest," said Punnoose. 
 
He said the budget of the event was fixed at Rs.611 crore but it was conducted by spending only Rs.550 crore. 

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Fake notes seized near Bangla border in Bengal
Border Security Force personnel on Tuesday seized fake Indian currency notes (FICN) with a face value of Rs.8 lakh while being smuggled from Bangladesh into West Bengal's Malda district.
 
The seizure was made during a special operation by the 20 battalion of the BSF under Daulatpur border outpost in the district. 
 
"A special anti-FICN team noticed that some Bangladeshi miscreants threw a bag across the Indo-Bangladesh border. But an attempt to collect the bag by Indian miscreants was foiled by the troops," a BSF officer said.
 
The BSF personnel found Rs.8 lakh in fake notes in the bag. However, both the Bangladeshi and the Indian miscreants managed to flee.
 
The BSF South Bengal Frontier has so far seized over Rs.84 lakh in FICNs this year.

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