Features Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 05:30
Close to 4 pm on the evening of April 11, three techies launched a website for what they thought would be a boost to the Net Neutrality fight in India. Little did they know that they would end up spearheading the movement with some others. One of them, a 22-year-old Computer Science student from Bangalore by the name of Karthik Balakrishnan, is the youngest member in the team behind the 'Save the Internet' campaign. Karthik, who is finishing up his degree from the Vellore Institute of Technology, says he never expected the #savetheinternet campaign to garner so much attention. The campaign was borne out of the discomfort of the online community who strongly voiced their opinion in favour of a ‘free Internet’, one that wouldn’t prefer certain kinds of content over others. Speaking to The News Minute, Karthik says "We did have a plan and an idea of certain things to work out in certain ways but we were expecting around 10,000 mails, not a million." Speaking about the entire campaign, Karthik talks about how he was interning for Hasgeek and doing regular Android development and backend work. "I joined Hasgeek in December as an intern and around April 1st, Nikhil Pahwa, the founder of Medianama and one of the main people behind the campaign, called up Kiran Jonalagadda, (the Hasgeek founder) with an idea." The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had earlier asked for individuals and Internet Service Providers to send in their recommendations on the issue of Network Neutrality.   The idea was simple. They had to work on a process that would enable people to send emails to TRAI from their individual IDs in response to the paper.  "Kiran asked me and I said yes. There wasn't much complicated coding work to do. That part was done in a day. The answers to the questions took a while. For the next couple of days lawyers, journalists, start ups and people from diverse professions sat down with the task of framing the answers to the questions put up by TRAI," says Nikhil. By April 11th, the website and the response to TRAI were ready and calls were made for assistance, one of them to Tanmay Bhat of AIB who agreed to pitch in. "AIB were ready with their video before the site was up. We launched the site at around 4 pm on April and after a few test runs, AIB put up the video at 5 pm. After that there was no slowing down," says Karthik. By midnight that day, they had received 20,000 responses which were twice more than they had expected for the entire campaign. "We had a zero budget. We ran the domain on Github, (the web-based Git repository hosting service) and made sure that the website was compatible with various desktops and mobile browsers," Karthik adds. The website also allowed for patches which allowed any user to contribute changes to the text which had to be approved by the administrators. "We got around 50 patches from wrong punctuation marks to structural changes and we personally went through it all," says Karthik.   The last couple of days have been crazy.* Close to 1.5 million people visited www.savetheinternet.in* More than... Posted by Karthik Balakrishnan on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 When asked what being part of the campaign taught him, he says "To be honest, if I wasn't part of the campaign, I would not have helped and brushed the thing off telling myself that there were enough people and that it was a big campaign. The entire thing taught me that no matter how small or big a campaign is, people coming forward and helping out in any way they can is a welcome sight." Also. Send all your