Net Neutrality in Danger! We should do something about this

Lord Nemesis

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The problem is that you are happy with a certain way that allows them to make Rs 10. But if they come up with a way to increase internet traffic to make Rs 20, you are stopping them.
The point is consistency. I don't mind paying Rs 20 if its done in a consistent manner and is justifiable. But I don't like it if an operator is trying to blackmail me into paying more by selectively targeting what ever I am using. For instance, I don't use any social media, no facebook nada. Still, if the operators are given free reign, there is nothing stopping them selectively blocking services that I actually use and charge me extra for those exclusively.

Also tomorrow if Airtel, Idea, Voda, Reliance, Tata stop making profits and close down - who will stand to gain, who will stand to lose?
Oh please, These companies are lobbying not because they are loosing revenues and profits but because they see the opportunity to make 3000x profit where they are making 1000x profit currently. This was never about losing money, but about making more and more by exploiting the market in an unreasonable manner. It is the equivalent of going to pharmacy for an asprin because you have a headache and the pharmacist telling you that it will cost you Rs 10000 because you have a headache.

I think we should come out of the idea that the seller always loots the buyer. Both find it mutually acceptable to enter the contract/deal because both stand to gain something from it.
Paying a cost because its mutually acceptable is different from paying a cost because you have no other option and forced to pay it. People do not always pay because its mutually acceptable. If you are bit by a snake and somebody is trying to take advantage of it to sell you anti venom for 10k when it normally costs 1k. You might still agree to pay it even if you do not agree cost being charged.

Whenever I enter negotiations with our customers - the unique tendency seen in India is that they are very interested in knowing my cost and working out how much profit I make per unit. I seriously don't understand what difference does it make in their decision making process.
Do they feel happy when they know I make only 5% margin.
Do they feel sad when they realiaze that I make 45% margin?
Yes, its important. People do not like being taken advantage of. I don't mind businesses making a profit because that is the goal of a business and I am not even the nitpicking kind, but I still do mind if a business is trying to take advantage of me. For instance if an auto rikshaw asks me 200 Rs for a distance that is worth Rs100 fare, I would rather phone for a cab which is going to fairly charge me Rs 250 or 300 for its service. I would rather pay more for a service that is asking for a fair charge than one that is trying to take advantage of me even if the final cost is less. On the other hand, If I am injured and have to go the hospital urgently and a cab is going to come quickly and the auto asks me for Rs 1000 taking advantage, I might pay it, but that is because I have no other choice and not because it is perfectly al right for them to take advantage of such a situation to overcharge their customer.
 

ssslayer

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You have raised marvelous points. Let me see if I can come up with reasonable answers :)
The point is consistency. I don't mind paying Rs 20 if its done in a consistent manner and is justifiable. But I don't like it if an operator is trying to blackmail me into paying more by selectively targeting what ever I am using. For instance, I don't use any social media, no facebook nada. Still, if the operators are given free reign, there is nothing stopping them selectively blocking services that I actually use and charge me extra for those exclusively.
Look at it from opposite point of view. A person who uses only facebook and flipkart has an opportunity today to browse for free. He can accuse the world for forcing him to pay for something he doesn't require (= plethora of other sites available through neutral net).
As I have been trying to say again and again, we are on techenclave and we use the internet VERY differently from the world around.
Most people with smartphones don't even use browsers. They use apps only. And they don't use internet as a library. They use internet as an interactive TV channel.

Oh please, These companies are lobbying not because they are loosing revenues and profits but because they see the opportunity to make 3000x profit where they are making 1000x profit currently. This was never about losing money, but about making more and more by exploiting the market in an unreasonable manner. It is the equivalent of going to pharmacy for an asprin because you have a headache and the pharmacist telling you that it will cost you Rs 10000 because you have a headache.
The problem with the example is that the pharmacist can never ascertain that you really have a headache or not. If you don't then you will walk away and buy from another pharmacist. Loss of business for the first pharmacist. So he may perhaps try it initially, but people will send the message by not buying from him. And he will come back to his senses.
So now lets examine the next possible question - what if ALL pharmacists everywhere start doing this. Then people will stock up the medicines. Most people do it even now with controlled prices.

Paying a cost because its mutually acceptable is different from paying a cost because you have no other option and forced to pay it. People do not always pay because its mutually acceptable. If you are bit by a snake and somebody is trying to take advantage of it to sell you anti venom for 10k when it normally costs 1k. You might still agree to pay it even if you do not agree cost being charged.
Taking advantage of is a wrong word altogether. Do we take advantage of laborers in India? Maids, construction workers, drivers, unskilled lackeys, coolies, everyone who is actually paid peanuts for doing job that takes their entire day. And leaves with only so much money that they can buy food, pay rent, but not save.
Does a company take advantange of its workforce? Does the skilled workforce take advantage of their employers for some niche skills?
Is Audi taking its customer for a ride with high prices charged compared to a Nano? Are poor people taking the rich people for a ride by voting for freebies and making the country poor? Are rich people taking the poor people for a ride by hiring them for small amount of money (compared to say US) to get their jobs done?

The snake example you give reminds me of hospitals. When we have medical emergencies - we do not go about asking competitive quotations from the hospitals. We simply get admitted and cough up the money upon discharge. If this money feels unfair - we get insurance.
If we are afraid of snakebite venom being very expensive, we get insured against it.
Yes, its important. People do not like being taken advantage of. I don't mind businesses making a profit because that is the goal of a business and I am not even the nitpicking kind, but I still do mind if a business is trying to take advantage of me. For instance if an auto rikshaw asks me 200 Rs for a distance that is worth Rs100 fare, I would rather phone for a cab which is going to fairly charge me Rs 250 or 300 for its service. I would rather pay more for a service that is asking for a fair charge than one that is trying to take advantage of me even if the final cost is less. On the other hand, If I am injured and have to go the hospital urgently and a cab is going to come quickly and the auto asks me for Rs 1000 taking advantage, I might pay it, but that is because I have no other choice and not because it is perfectly al right for them to take advantage of such a situation to overcharge their customer.
Fair price: how do you decide it?
How do you know that the Rs 100 fare is really fair? Because the Govt has pulled up some figures from thin air and made it seem that it is ok.
Apparently Govt has also pulled up some figures about poverty line. Do check the laughable figure.

Don't you find it funny that autowalla is a daily wage earner and he is refusing a chance to earn money? Most of the autowallas actually start the day negative because they don't own their autos. They pay some rent to the owner or they pay EMI to the bank. Isn't it funny that instead of getting an opportunity to earn Rs 100, he quotes Rs 200 and then goes away - all this while still burning the fuel.

Regarding the example for auto quoting Rs 1000 for emergency. The autowalla quotes this figure knowing that you won't be able to find any other means or even any other autowalla. Blame the municipal corporation for such auto scarcity. Scarcity always drives prices up.

If people could take up auto freely and start serving, in the case of emergency you will have access to many auto (who will be lured in to make money on your situation thinking about Rs 1000) but soon a kind of reverse auction sets in. I can assure that you will not have to pay more than what you would've paid otherwise.
 
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deepakvrao

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I don't consider Airtel Zero to be even a violation of net neutrality because they are charging money in all cases and as an operator, they are not blocking anybody from joining the program. As long as no bias from ISP side creeps in, this kind of system is fine IMO and does not violate net neutrality regardless of what the idiots over at TRAI or our stupid politicians have to say.
Don't agree there. Airtel is charging the company, eg: Flipkart. Yes, anyone is free to join, but the small, new startup won't be able to match the funds of the big guys, and then we have a monopoly.
 
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Criminal

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^^ That means the end users will use their existing internet package to access those "poor start-ups." OTOH, for accessing Flipkart on Airtel Zero, one needs to have just an internet capable device.

Services offered by Airtel Zero is like accessing Doordarshan with those roof mounted antennas, in olden days. End users needed to have just a device (TV set) to view FTA channels.

If net neutrality fails then end users will be paying separately for each or a bouquet of websites (facebook) or services (whatsapp), just like we are paying for DTH now. And those charges will be on top of your monthly rental. And then again, your access can be throttled on the basis of your internet package, just like we have bandwidth specific SD/HD channels on DTH. You want good picture quality, pay more for HD... you want good quality on Skype?... shell out more.

Airtel Zero and net neutrality are not the same.
 

Lord Nemesis

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Don't agree there. Airtel is charging the company, eg: Flipkart. Yes, anyone is free to join, but the small, new startup won't be able to match the funds of the big guys, and then we have a monopoly.
Net neutrality has nothing to do with that. Whether existing companies having an advantage constitutes an anti competitive business practice or how it should be dealt with is an unrelated debate that falls under the head of business ethics and fair competition and should not be mixed with net neutrality.

The scope of Net Neutrality should be limited to whether ISPs treat data neutrally or not. As long as all data is being charged and there is no reason that is compelling an operator towards biased treatment of data, net neutrality can be ensured.

If you think that who is paying for your data comes under the scope of neutrality, then lets consider the case of two students who have no income of their own. Lets say father of one student can pay for the his child's internet connection and the father of the other can't. Obviously one is disadvantaged. Should this be prevented under the guise of net neutrality? In the interest of neutrally for all users, should the ISP make a rule that payments should be made by the subscriber only using his own money and that connection cannot be shared with anybody else? That would ensure equal treatment for both students, but should it be the role of the ISP to do this? If you say that its not the job of ISP, the same applies when it comes to service providers as well. The ISP is offering an option neurally to all service providers. The fact that one service provider can use it and another cannot is not within the scope of the ISP's role. From his standpoint, he has provided fair opportunity to all. Now if the ISP is denying the opportunity to one or penalizing the service providers who didn't sign up or compelled by those who signed up to threat others in an unfair manner, then he is not being neutral.
 

baccilus

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If you think that who is paying for your data comes under the scope of neutrality, then lets consider the case of two students who have no income of their own. Lets say father of one student can pay for the his child's internet connection and the father of the other can't. Obviously one is disadvantaged. Should this be prevented under the guise of net neutrality? In the interest of neutrally for all users, should the ISP make a rule that payments should be made by the subscriber only using his own money and that connection cannot be shared with anybody else? That would ensure equal treatment for both students, but should it be the role of the ISP to do this? If you say that its not the job of ISP, the same applies when it comes to service providers as well. The ISP is offering an option neurally to all service providers. The fact that one service provider can use it and another cannot is not within the scope of the ISP's role. From his standpoint, he has provided fair opportunity to all. Now if the ISP is denying the opportunity to one or penalizing the service providers who didn't sign up or compelled by those who signed up to threat others in an unfair manner, then he is not being neutral.
And what if the poorer student needs the sites which are not offered by the ISP. The whole problem lies with the fact that ISP will be given more power than they can handle responsibly. You say we should just ensure that someone pays the ISP, even if it is the website. How about the website pays directly to the consumer and let us pay the ISP.
One mistake everyone is doing in this argument is that you are not thinking of what the ISP may be able to do in the future. They will not stop the neutral Internet packages, but they will surely make them too expensive to afford. That is a given. Are you ready to give that sort of power to them?
 
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deepakvrao

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And what if the poorer student needs the sites which are not offered by the ISP. The whole problem lies with the fact that ISP will be given more power than they can handle responsibly. You say we should just ensure that someone pays the ISP, even if it is the website. How about the website pays directly to the consumer and let us pay the ISP.
One mistake everyone is doing in this argument is that you are not thinking of what the ISP may be able to do in the future. They will not stop the neutral Internet packages, but they will surely make them too expensive to afford. That is a given. Are you ready to give that sort of power to them?
QFT
 

Lord Nemesis

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And what if the poorer student needs the sites which are not offered by the ISP. The whole problem lies with the fact that ISP will be given more power than they can handle responsibly. You say we should just ensure that someone pays the ISP, even if it is the website. How about the website pays directly to the consumer and let us pay the ISP.
One mistake everyone is doing in this argument is that you are not thinking of what the ISP may be able to do in the future. They will not stop the neutral Internet packages, but they will surely make them too expensive to afford. That is a given. Are you ready to give that sort of power to them?
Sorry, your counter question does not answer my question. Let me repeat again...If you think that an ISP should not be allowed to take payment for a end users bandwidth usage from the service provider keeping the interests of start ups who might not be able to afford paying for their users, tell me one reason why it should not apply to the case where end users internet costs may be covered by their family, friends or their workplace. In the interest of fairness to all end users, why should be not have regulation in the scope of net neutrality that will ensure that every person pays his own internet bill with proof that the money used was earned by him/her. After all, you want the end user to be the one paying for whatever services he used on the net.

My whole point is that who is paying for what is outside the scope of ISP. Their job is to provide access to their network in a neutral manner and take payment for that. It doesn't manner if its you, your dad or your service provider paying for the bandwidth.

If an ISP doesn't mind that when your internet cost is partly or fully being covered by your dad, friend etc. why should he care if its being covered by a service provider. Similarly, if its not the ISPs problem if a poor students dad cannot pay for providing internet access to his son, why is it their problem if a start up service provider cannot pay for the usage of their customers. It is simply outside their scope and outside the scope of net neutrality.

And yes, as far as net neutrality is concerned, I don't even mind a service provider paying directly to the customer either. but then if you, don't think that ISP's can be trusted, why the hell would you think that customers can be trusted? After all ISP's are also run by people, the same kind as the customers.

You might have genuine concerns about business fairness, but sorry, what you are not talking about has nothing to do with net neutrality .

You want regulation biased towards the interests of the consumers (and maybe service providers) by curbing the rights of an operator to provide fair services and imposing arbitrary restrictions on the assumption that the same will be abused without taking any reasonable measures to prevent the same. I can agree that any arrangements that involuntarily or involuntarily force the ISP to be not neutral can be stopped, but as long as there is no biased QoS, why should a ISP be stopped from offering services that are fair to the intended parties in the sense of fair opportunity.

As I said before, any regulation related to net neutrality should be with the limited scope of maintaining neutrality, not for restricting operators in an effort to cater to the interests of end users or service providers.
 

baccilus

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If you think that an ISP should not be allowed to take payment for a end users bandwidth usage from the service provider keeping the interests of start ups who might not be able to afford paying for their users, tell me one reason why it should not apply to the case where end users internet costs may be covered by their family, friends or their workplace. In the interest of fairness to all end users, why should be not have regulation in the scope of net neutrality that will ensure that every person pays his own internet bill with proof that the money used was earned by him/her. After all, you want the end user to be the one paying for whatever services he used on the net.
It doesn't matter if someone else pays for my Internet, as long as I choose who that someone else is going to be. That power should lie with me, not with the ISP. If my parents pay for my Internet, I still stay a consumer, but when flipkart pays for my Internet, I become the commodity. I would like to stay the Consumer. Thank you.

You want regulation biased towards the interests of the consumers (and maybe service providers) by curbing the rights of an operator to provide fair services and imposing arbitrary restrictions on the assumption that the same will be abused without taking any reasonable measures to prevent the same
The problem is that we can really safely assume that in due course of time they will abuse whatever can be abused. And there will be absolutely no going back, simply because once the Internet is defined as a few selected sites to the consumers, they won't even know what the neutral Internet was like. There will be no going back.
And you make it sound like telecom operators are really suffering because of the Neutral nature of the Internet. Is that really completely true? Of Course people don't send SMS any more, but has that really effected their profits? I am not talking about the profit per subscriber here. And suppose they are in fact having a hard time surviving. Is this the only solution? This might not even be about survival. This might just be about greed. It is OK for private operators to maximise their profit but unhindered greed at the cost of our freedom is not fine. And before you cringe, this is assumed to be an attack on the freedom because with non neutral Internet, the power to choose shifts from the Consumer to the Telecom Operator. Your parents will always have your best interest in mind but your telecom operator will never love you that much.
 

Lord Nemesis

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It doesn't matter if someone else pays for my Internet, as long as I choose who that someone else is going to be. That power should lie with me, not with the ISP. If my parents pay for my Internet, I still stay a consumer, but when flipkart pays for my Internet, I become the commodity. I would like to stay the Consumer. Thank you.
The control for that is not with the ISP, but the actual service provider. As I said, the ISP's role limited to a facilitator who takes payment for providing access to their network. It is the service provider who is deciding whether to pay for his customers or let the customer pay. Also note that a service provider too has the right to deny you service if you do not agree to his terms of service.

Further more, people need to get away from the "customer is king" syndrome that seems to be afflicting many people in our country. People seem to take it for granted that anybody they pay for a service is their slave from that moment on and they should be the only one in control over everything. The customer has his rights no doubt. As a customer, you deserve good service and the ability to choose what is good for you. If you don't like an ISP offering a service provider the ability to pay for the use of bandwidth by you, you can choose not avail that ISP's services. As a customer you can refuse to be taken for a ride, but still do note the customer is not the only one with rights and the customer is not the king.

As I said before, I understand your concerns very well and your desire for customer biased regulations, but lets not confuse it with the scope of net neutrality.

And yeah, if haven't realized yet, you are already a commodity for many in addition to being a customer for a few. You are a commodity to your bank, you are commodity to your insurance company, you are a commodity to every other website that you access on the internet. Everything about your identity is being packaged and sold.
 

Lord Nemesis

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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/Net-neutrality-Telcos-warn-of-six-fold-hike-in-data-tariffs/articleshow/47046263.cms

Some of their points are definitely valid I guess.

While the telecom operators do make a lot of profit, our voice plan rates are still some of the lowest in the world. Just a few days back, I was comparing the rates in US and UK and my yearly costs for calls/SMS is less than a third of the typical monthly cost of a plan in US My sister is on a fairly cheap plan and it still costs around $70 per month after taxes which translates to around Rs 4400. I use about Rs 1000~1200 per year (not to mention that this is on a number is from a different circle and is in roaming) for fairly the same amount of phone usage as my sister.

Data rates are somewhere in the middle compared to rest of the world I guess.

Despite low call rates, they expect the usage volumes and SMS usage to bring the profits for them. As telecom operators, they also have to incur costs for setting up infrastructure for interception etc. and any other arbitrary stuff that Govt demands as knee jerk reactions from time to time, the cost of which the Govt expects the operator to swallow themselves which means that the same has to be recovered from the end users.

If data plans are going to make a dent on their profit levels from voice and texting services, then its obvious that they will have to increase the cost for data to offset the costs they incur on maintaining voice/sms services while still maintain their profit levels. Rather than lobbying for an anti neutrality stance and rampart abuse of that, I am fine with them rising the data costs irrespective what its being used for.

Still, 5 to 6 times looks like a lot. Seems like they are projecting it for the level of profits they would have if they had the opportunity to charge service providers and the customers selectively for each service in absence of net neutrality.
 

baccilus

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May be everyone overbid for the spectrum. Now they are looking for ways to recover that investment. Increasing the data cost by 5-6 times may even be a blackmail tactic.
 

Lord Nemesis

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^^ The goal of the auctioning is to get the maximum returns for the Govt and the companies bid because they expect profits from it even if it is at a high cost. The govt expects them to buy at the highest costs because they know that the operators can recover the same and more from their customers. So, of course the operators will set the prices at whatever level is going to bring the expected profit levels and govt too knows it. If they are not getting expected profit levels from voice services, because of higher usage of data, they will offset the cost to data services. That is how a businesses works. As I said many times before, nothing comes for free. everything has a cost whether you realise it or not.

And yeah, for anyone thinking that Govt should impose pricing regulations on operators, let me assure you that its a very very bad idea. Not only is it illegal in many contexts which all operators would contest in courts and the costs for fighting which would ultimately be borne by the customer, but even if its done, the only effect that it has is to kill the competition and increase prices. I can recount two live examples of this. When the onion prices were being jacked up (by simulating artificial shortage), the govt tried to regulate prices by putting in rules that onion prices should not be allowed to be sold above Rs 40. The immediate impact of that was that within few hours all the places where they were available for much lower (like Rs 28 in my place) jacked up the prices to Rs 40. It was the same result when the state govt tried to regulate school fees by putting a upper cap. Immediately many schools which were charging half of that limit jacked up their fees to be close to the upper limit.
 
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blr_p

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Replies from the service providers :)

http://trai.gov.in/Comments/Comments-List001.pdf (BT & Verizon as well)

http://trai.gov.in/Comments/Comments-List002.pdf (Service providers association)

http://trai.gov.in/Comments/Comments-List003.pdf (stakeholders)

here is what airtel had to say...

A viable industry and greater investment

The viability of the telecom industry is assessed on the basis of its current financial health, as well as prospects for future investments.

The Indian internet market displays peculiarities that differentiate it from a majority of other nations. Internet penetration in India is still very low, at around 255 million total internet users. Of these, a mere 86 million users have access to broadband internet. Providing ‘Broadband to all’ will require a significant expansion of TSPs’ networks. This expansion will ultimately depend on the ability of TSPs to secure more investments, acquire more spectrum, and deploy more infrastructure/towers.

TSPs have invested Rs.750,000 Crores since inception of the Industry. Of this, Rs.2,90,000 Crores has been invested in acquiring radio spectrum during the last five years. Further, It is expected that the industry will need to invest an additional Rs.500,000 over the next 5-7 years towards spectrum, building towers, fiber and core network resources.

However, over the last couple of years the financial health of the industry has deteriorated, with the cumulative debt burden going up from Rs 82,726 crores in 2008-09 to over Rs.3,00,000 Crores in FY 2014-15. The Debt to Equity ratio of a majority of the TSPs has doubled since 2010-11; RoCE is observed at 1% of the Industry as a whole. Therefore, it is critical that any policy measures or regulatory framework for internet and OTT facilitates the financial viability of the sector.

In addition to facilitating the financial viability of TSPs, policy makers in India need to critically re-examine the nation’s radio spectrum, emissions standards and right of way policies. Indian TSPs hold an abysmally low quantum of spectrum, approximately 14MHz on average, which contrasts strikingly with international counterparts in developed markets, e.g., EU allocation (92.6MHz), UK (82.2MHz), France (138.5MHz), Spain (100.6MHz) and the US (96MHz). TSPs cannot build enough towers because EMF standards are ten times more stringent here than in the rest of the world. They also struggle with fiber rollouts due to inconsistent, restrictive and cost prohibitive Right of way policies. These constraints are big obstacles to achieving the national objectives.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for a regulatory and policy framework that helps the industry improve its financial situation, acquire more spectrum, and attract the investments needed for building and expanding broadband networks at a rapid pace.
 
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baccilus

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Honestly, it seems that the root of the problem are the government policies. The root of the problem should be addressed rather than randomly attacking the Net neutrality.
Brace for spam emails. TRAI has released all the sender's email addresses publicly.
 
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Crapmypants

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TRAI has released all the sender's email addresses publicly.
Yeah, it's all over the news.
I don't know whether to cry over trai's incompetence or the fact that nobody in the govt. seems to think this is a big deal.
 

baccilus

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I don't have access to news channels. Is it being shown on TV? Wow. Ab sabko pata chal jayega. Idiots will remove it from their website and think that it has been removed from the Internet.
 
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