This article analyzes the 2015 campaign by net neutrality advocates against Facebook’s Free Basics service in India, and argues that their victory can be best understood by analyzing their privileged place in an India that imagines itself high tech and global. The advocates, predominantly tech workers, loosely organized under the banner of Save the Internet (STI) echoing the net neutrality debate in the United States. The article assesses the competing claims and modes of contention of both Facebook and STI, and examines how STI’s appeals were able to mobilize public opinion in record numbers. Prasad argues that STI formed a ‘recursive public’, which practiced a technopolitics that resonated within the broader narrative of technocultural nationalism championed by the current ruling party. She traces the historical origins of this dominant discourse that eventually led the regulator to ban all zero-ratings plans, including Free Basics.
Published online October 19, 2017