The Voters Dilemma – Free Broadband, Free TV or 40,000 Blowjobs

27 05 2007

Got your attention with the title didn’t I? Well, what triggered all this was the Indian Government recently announcing plans for a scheme to provide Free Broadband to all Indians by 2008. I’d come across it briefly in the papers, but didn’t pay much attention to it until a buddy of my posted a mini-rant on this at his blog. Here’s the link.

Quite frankly, I’m getting sick of hearing about the outrageous promises that politicians make in order to get elected. No surprise there, I know. It’s what politicians are and do. But, just once, I wish they’d use the vacuum between their ears for something practical, rather than frivolous. Even Alice in Wonderland, with its white talking rabbits, cheshire cats, smoking caterpillars, people made of cards, and magic mushrooms, is more believable that some of the rot that escapes from the mouths of politicians. Anyways, on with the rant.

Now as Ram questions on his blog, why doesn’t the government focus on stuff like free food, free potable water, free education more rather than a stupid gimmick like free broadband. Look at the numbers. India is a land of 1.3 billion people. The number of Internet users today in the country is less than 100 million, or less than 10% of the national population. Furthermore, there are only around 25 million broadband users today. Check the TRAI website for the actual numbers. Ironically enough, its this section of the population that can afford a computer, has proper food, shelter, education, etc. So why the heck do they need free internet? They can afford to pay for it.

Speaking as one of the 100 million potential beneficiaries of this scheme, I wouldn’t say no to free broadband. But, I’d rather they reduced the tariffs to encourage more people to get on the Net, rather than offer it for free. ‘Cause they’d have to finance it somehow and the only way would be through taxation. As it is, we’re getting taxed for almost everything. So, I for one would like to avoid another tax somehow, and am still willing to pay for the service, only I would prefer if the costs weren’t so steep.

The Internet economy in India is just taking off. More and more people are becoming increasingly reliant on the Internet and are investing in broadband connections to benefit from the fast speeds, always-on connections, etc.. But the cost of Internet Access is on the higher side compared to other countries. In Malaysia, for example, an unlimited 1MBPS broadband connection is available for RM77 per month, or Rs. 925 per month. The cheapest comparable plan in India costs Rs. 3600 per month or approximately 4 times more. If the Indian government could take steps to reduce the cost of Internet access to say maybe twice what it costs in Malaysia, then more people would sign up for the service, and the government wouldn’t have to shoulder the a huge financial burden in making the net more accessible. This is how I would approach this anyway. This way, its an achievable task rather than an complete load of bullcrap.

Doing some very rough number crunching, the average broadband bill in India is approximately Rs. 500 for 256k limited connection. An unlimited 256k broadband connection is about Rs. 1000 per month. Let’s assume that the government decides to offer unlimited 256k for free. It doesn’t make sense for it to be free and limited. So with approximately 15 million current broadband users in India today, of which about 85% would be in the 256k bracket, your cost of providing free broadband to this group is about Rs. 1,275 crore per month [15 million x Rs. 1000 x 85%] , or Rs. 15,300 crore per annum. Where the heck would you get that kind of money??? I doubt taxes would cover that cost. Ok, so this isn’t the cost of providing service but its the amount that is being subsidized. The actual cost of providing this service would not be that high. Even if its 50% of the subsidized value, its still over Rs. 7,000 crore, and thats money I’d prefer going towards more useful things. I’d rather see this kind of money invested into reducing our petrol prices or shoring up electricity generation, stuff that would really improve my living standards. How does free internet do that? What the heck do you do with it? For a desi, the average browsing pattern is check email, read the news, get on Orkut, browse porn, check mail, check dating/matrimonial site, Orkut, porn. Not very productive is it??? So why encourage that lifestyle even more?

Getting back to Ram’s main point, he states “While I see all the comments on the feasibility of implementing it or of this being a simple election (national elections are in 2009) gimmick, no one is talking about the fact that there are so many higher priority problems in this country that should be tackled first.” India has some really serious issues it has to tackle like basic education, sustained power generation to meet demand, potable water, food, clothing for the poor, the list goes on. Yet, the general public still seems to be swayed by empty promises like free broadband, free tvs, etc. Sometimes you really have to wonder how the public can actually vote for such imbeciles when said imbeciles clearly have lost the plot. I mean you can claim ignorance as an excuse once, but this kind of crap has been happening for over 50 years now. You’d think people would have learnt by now.

A case in point is the last state election in Tamil Nadu. The current DMK government was swept into power last year after they promised free TVs and free cooking gas connections to each household. Cooking gas is fine, people need to eat. But free TVs??? I mean come on guys. People are struggling to make ends meet and put food on their tables, and you give them TVs? How’s that going to help them live? By turning into mindless zombies addicted to the idiot boxes, who end up scheduling their entire lives around TV??? And what about the extra burden on the already faltering power infrastructure? Why can’t you invest more into stabilizing the power grids? Unfortunately all these facts and reality checks are irrelevant to politicians. The net result is that a year on, the DMK is in power, the free TV and gas plan is in shambles with only a small fraction of population actually receiving the goods, and the voters are no better off than they were before. Life goes on for them as it did before the election, despite the empty promises of the government they voted into power.

This free broadband crap is the same deal, only on a national scale. Some jackass wants to get some publicity so he decides to announce this scheme. And he’s probably never even used a computer before in his life. The problem is that politicians, particularly in India, believe that its grandiose schemes not practical substance that wins elections. So they make outrageous claims and promises to get elected, and once elected may or may not actually deliver on the promises. All I can say is I hope they just remember what happened to Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh a couple of years back. He was celebrated as the model IT-savvy Chief Minister, and people raved about his efforts to use IT to modernize the bureaucracy of the state government. But despite all the acclaim and recognition, he still lost the elections because he didn’t act when a really bad drought hit Southern Andhra Pradesh. For all his panache and media savvy, Naidu neglected the basic needs of his voters, who felt he didn’t care about them and consequently didn’t vote for him.

So, a warning to the powers that be. The Indian voter is not a predictable lackey. You can’t really predict how he/she will react. Rather than trying to woo them with glitter and giving them horse-shit in the end, try to actually do something constructive for them. They’ll remember that, and not the horse-shit, and love you for it in the long run, rather than turn on you in the next elections. You’re better off doing the practical and achievable, rather than the showy yet impossible.

On a lighter note, it looks like other countries are learning from Indian politicians about making empty promises. A Belgian politician actually campaigned for the Belgian Senate by promising, “I’ll give you 40,000 blowjobs.” Here’s the campaign website if you don’t believe me. Given the fact that she looks pretty hot and is nude in the ad, you can’t help wondering how many voters, especially male, would’ve said no to that particular campaign promise. Plus she also added that she was willing to travel anywhere in the world to keep her promise. I guess she really was keen on catering to a wider audience. Talk about putting your mouth where your money is. She even calculated that at a rate of 80 blowjobs a day [80??? Assume 6 hours for sleep, an extra 4 for breaks, lunch, showers, mouth rinse, etc… that leaves 14 hours, so that comes to just over 5.7 blowjobs an hour, or one every 10 minutes…], it would take her 500 days to fulfill her “obligations”, and even went into details on dos and donts for the blowjobs. Take a look at the website if you’re curious. Must warn you though. It can be considered NSFW.

Wonder of wonders, it was later reported that she failed to live up to her promises, and sent a Japanese assistant to perform the “dirty” work instead. El Reg had a good story covering this here.

I dunno bout you but at least the Belgian gimmick was appealing. ‘Course, that’s cause Tania has the looks to pull it off. Can you imagine if it this happened in India and that was one of our female politicians???

Disclaimer: I’m not responsible for any trauma associated with readers mentally imagining female Indian politicians such as Jaya, Mayawati, Sonia, etc. in place of Tania Devereaux. It’s your own damned sick fantasy, so you deal with it.

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One response

9 09 2007
jameswillisisthebest

This is my first post
just saying HI

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