I think internet access is the same as education, once, used to be a privilege. Having internet access at home was a luxury. Now, internet access has become inevitable. Mobile phone with internet access is part of the life of people who lives in urban and suburban. Giving internet access to the whole population or as most covering as possible is the same as giving education, a tool for people to get their life improved. The government should make sure that there are no socio-economic barriers for the population for internet access. The barrier could even widen the inequality gap between the poor and the rich and between the rural and urban area. Whether or not the Net Pracharat comes with a hidden agenda or a tool from “Big Brother”, in the end, people will know the way to protect themselves. The same as other government in the world, surveillance and monitoring is an activity all government do and they do through every activity in the daily life of population already including education and healthcare enrollment.
On the other hand, giving such basic rights to access another 21st-century tool to populations, the faster they can access, the quicker they can secure their life and have ability to against the surveillance and monitoring. Fearing of the government with such activities is rather building a self-barrier to improve the quality of life of the target community. Instead, civic and academic society should raise and advocate more on self-awareness, internet literacy, and privacy and security of accessing to the internet network. What any non-government organization and civic society should do is sharing with such new user what the internet can offer for a better life.
The public investment, for me, helps people access to facilities they deserve, the same as road and other infrastructure and public services. They can learn new languages to get the capability to access more knowledge. They can learn a new skill from video streaming such as youtube. They can get informal education through MOOCs which is available from famous academic institution and channels where may impossible for them to enrol in real life. They can get to know what the global community think, opening their perspectives. And importantly, the community can have a new channel to market their products or to advertise their services or finding new jobs, improving the economic status of the rural population.
The most concern is that balancing of the pubic funded-infrastructure network with the private operating system must be assured for transparency and the project goal’s alignment. Apart from covering in all rural areas, quality of internet services should be with a proper standard to make sure they can do such activities regularly and as often as possible for continuity of improvement and especially with no extra cost. Ultimately, the government should make sure that the quality of internet services in the urban and rural area is the same with an affordable cost to reduce inequality in overall.