New York: Asserting that Internet freedom will help attack corruption, Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has asked India to embrace "transparency and openness" of the web that will have a potentially game-changing impact on governance.
"At Google we believe that in fact the freer a country's Internet, the?better chance that country has of exposing deep-rooted problems and confronting them honestly," Schmidt said in an essay written for the book 'Reimagining India: Unlocking The Potential of Asia's Next Superpower' edited by global consulting firm McKinsey.
"... Will India embrace an open network or a closed one. The political impulse to try to shield people from inflammatory, obscene or defamatory commentary and?images in a country as diverse and often fractious as India is understandable but misplaced," Schmidt said.
He said while India is known for its "freewheeling" democracy and "boisterous" political debate, a Google search of 'India Internet censorship' generates thousands of?hits documenting episodes in recent years of government authorities demanding the closure of websites or dispatching law enforcement officials to intimidate people for posted material deemed to be objectionable.
"These actions are often well-intentioned especially when they are aimed at suppressing ethnic violence. In general though, such policies are misguided and?inimical to India's broader national interests.
"... But trying to control what people say is a losing proposition. It is much better to let good speech overwhelm bad speech, using the kinds of principles that have worked reasonably well on the free and open Internet we enjoy in the US and other developed countries," he said.
Given the progress made by India over the past decade, it is "hard not to be optimistic" about the next 10 years.
"Global success and a vast improvement in living conditions for hundreds of millions of its citizens are within the country's grasp but only if India's leaders invest in the right infrastructure and embrace the transparency and openness of the Internet," he said.