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Cartoon: The Big Fat Indian Wedding


An explanatory note:

Amidst the infernal tidings that the pandemic brings, Facebook has invested around 6 billion dollars into a heavily-indebted Indian telco. The special thing about this telco? It’s owned by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man and a friend of PM Narendra Modi.

Facebook says the deal will help it expand its 400-million-strong Indian userbase, while Mr. Ambani has called for Indian data to be centralised within India, “like oil”. Either way, this deal spells bad news for the already-embattled cause of data privacy in India, a country with no legal basis for consumer privacy data protection laws.

Ambani’s telco, Jio, now enjoys the largest userbase of mobile phone users in the Indian telecoms market thanks to a guns-blazing market entry that involved handing out hundreds of millions of free data plans and alleged government collusion.

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg sees India as a potential site to create and operate an all-encompassing app for payments, social networking, and communications akin to China’s WeChat through its stake in Jio. Incidentally, Facebook was blocked from a similar enterprise in its Free Basics program by Indian regulators in 2016.

Whether the new ‘Indian WeChat’ will now be used equivalently as a surveillance tool to track dissent and monitor private communication is anyone’s guess.

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Cartoons Desk Editor
Abeer is a senior majoring in Economics and Mathematical and Computational Science, a bit of a mouthful (he knows). He's been doodling powerful people's noses since grade school, and has since honed an acute fondness for behavioral econ, financial markets, classic rock, and politics in his home country, India. Contact the Cartoons section at eic 'at'