September 24, 2020

Economic & Empirical Analysis of Internet gag in JK

After the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, the internet was shut down completely in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to avoid any cataclysm through misuse of social media sites. This was not the first time the internet was banned in Jammu & Kashmir. Earlier the first major internet ban was imposed after killing of Burhan Wani for about five months in 2016. Prior to that from 2011-2016, the government blocked the internet signals over 28 times. Also in April 2017, the authorities banned several social media sites ( WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, Skype, Pinterest, and Vine) after they believed that they were being used as a tool to spread violence and glorify militancy by youth against the spirit of nationalism. In January 2020, 2G internet was resumed with no access to social media, from here onwards is the period of our analysis. We will analyze internet gag for a period of almost eight and half months, a total of 258 days.
Extend of Telecom subscriber base in Jammu and Kashmir: The total wireless subscribers in Jammu and Kashmir as on April 2020 are 11822044 out of 1149516913 in all over India. The division of these subscribers to the operators of Bharti Airtel is 5870663 out of 322543099, Vodafone Idea rebranded as Vi is 619462 out of 314651748, BSNL is1252838 out of 119760055 and Reliance JIO 4079081 out of 389092136. The total wireline subscribers in Jammu and Kashmir as on April 2020 are 135012 out of 19919606 in all over India. The division of these subscribers to the operators of Bharti Airtel is 1860 out of 43153795, BSNL is 117176 out of 8489269 and Reliance JIO 15976 out of 1141399. The Vi was not operational through wire line in Jammu and Kashmir as till April. Calculating the total subscriber base in Jammu and Kashmir as on April is 11957056. In March there were zero subscribers of Bharti Airtel through wireline which in April 2020 increased to 1860. The state was only among few which grow positively over the month of April with net addition of 205 subscribers. Only five states have grown positively. A mini survey conducted by me gave me the results that out of 100 active subscribers almost 90-92 are having operational internet on their phones. The daily internet quota also gets exhausted to only 6-7% and those who can’t exhaust their data packs due to slow speed (internet restrictions) can only consume about 50% of data.
If it is not feasible and beneficial to the interests of the largest democracy in the world that the citizens of J & K would enjoy the technological freedom in shape of high speed internet, it should also not loot this much amount of money through the huge corporations like Reliance JIO. Every related department should consider the possible ways out. If the citizens of J & K are on the 2G network , why should they be forced to subscribe to the 4G plans.
Economics: In a report by Business Standard Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the average price of $ 0.26 for one gigabyte (GB) in India which in current conversion is 19.1334 INR. 90 % of the total subscribers (11957056) is 10761350 and deducting the subscribers who totally consume the packs, this number reduces to 10115669. Assuming that the half internet users subscribe to 1GB internet plan and half to 1.5GB. Therefore on an average 1.25 GB plans are subscribed ignoring the 2GB and higher data plans. 50% of 1.25GB comes out to be 0.625GB. This means everyday 0.625GB are not consumed by 10115669 subscribers. Calculating the total GBs unconsumed per day is 632293.125 which is a gigantic number. Multiplying it by the average price of a GB (19.1334INR), the total amount of which the benefits are not taken comes out to be 120966963.27 per day. Converting to the USD at current rates is $1643796. Earlier we had taken the total number of days to 258. Therefore from January 2020 to 15 September 2020 the total amount comes to be $ 424099368 or 31209472491 INR.
Recommendation: The above calculated numbers are alarming. This is not a loss of mere lakhs of rupees but also a conspiracy to the Economic downturn of Jammu and Kashmir. If it is not feasible and beneficial to the interests of the largest democracy in the world that the citizens of J & K would enjoy the technological freedom in shape of high speed internet, it should also not loot this much amount of money through the huge corporations like Reliance JIO. Every related department should consider the possible ways out. If the citizens of J & K are on the 2G network , why should they be forced to subscribe to the 4G plans.
Note: All the data is taken from the official website of TRAI(The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India)
(The author is presently pursuing Masters in Financial Economics at Madras School of Economics, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Views are his own) [email protected]

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