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Thursday, April 30, 2015

CHQ News:- CAT Case : Upgradation of GP of Inspector Posts....updates!!!

OA No. 289/13 filed by Association is posted on 18/6/2015 for final hearing before the Hon'ble CAT Ernakulam Bench.  

The representatives of Kerala Circle branch met our Counsel and discussed the matter for filing of MA for early hearing after summer vacation of court. 

Declaration of Assets and Liabilities by public servants under the section 44 of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 - Extension of last date for filing of revised returns

To view Department of Posts Letter No.20-1/2014-SPG dated 28/04/2015 please Click Here.

Shri Pawan Ku. Singh, IPoS-2000 DPS (HQ), Odisha Circle, Bhubaneswar relieved today

Shri Pawan Ku. Singh, IPoS-2000 relieved from the post of DPS (HQ), Odisha Circle, Bhubaneswar today the 30th April, 2015 (A/N) on transfer to join as DPS(Mail & BD), Delhi Circle.  

Hope to work with him in the future. All India Association of Inspectors and Asst. Supdts. of Posts, Odisha Circle Branch wishes the best to him for all his future endeavors. 

Retirement on Superannuation

Shri B.D. Pradhan, ADPS-II, R.O., Sambalpur has retired today the 30th April, 2015 (A/N) on superannuation. 

On the occasion of his retirement from Govt. Service, All India Association of Inspectors and Assistant Superintendents of Posts , Odisha Circle Branch bids him a respectful farewell and wishes him a good-health and peaceful life in his post-retirement days

Wide publicity to Jeevan Pramaan - message from Joint Secretary (Pension)

To view please Click Here.

Provision to Shield Honest Bureaucrats

After the suspension of few officers in various states and subsequently as a follow up to the demands of various quarters including the services associations of the three All India Services to protect honest and upright AIS Officers from unwarranted suspension, the Central Government is in the process of amending the All India Services (Discipline & Appeal) Rules, 1969 in order to provide adequate safeguards against arbitrary use of executive power in cadre management of All India Service officers and especially against the misuse of delegated authority under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969 in suspending AIS officers.

This was stated by the Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Dr. Jitendra Singh in a written reply to a question by Dr. K.V.P.Ramachandra Rao in the Rajya Sabha today. 


Civil servants should be fearless, understand govt policies:FM

New Delhi, Apr 30 (PTI) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said civil servants need to be fearless in decision making and understand government policies, while keeping distance from "political thicket".

The economy and the society have changed "hugely" over the years, he said, adding that civil servants should be fearless and not go only with the trend.

"He (civil servant) must have a credibility and an ability to pull along with his team. He must also have a capacity in Parliamentary democracy to understand what the government policy is, how it is to be pursued, and yet maintain a reasonable distance from the political thicket," Jaitley said.

The economy and the society have changed hugely over the years and it is the job of the civil servants to attune themselves with the changing times, he said.

"The economy, (is) no longer an economy of controls.

Today world over changes take place... Internationally the world is getting more and more integrated and therefore a civil servant or any officer in any branch of governance needs to attune...with these changes in the society," he said.

Jaitley was speaking at the convocation of Indian Institute of Public Administration.

A civil servant may not like his minister to be populist, but the officer has to strike the right balance between governance and compassion, he said.

"What is it a successful civil servant must have... He has to attune to the highest levels of integrity, he must be fearless in speaking up his minds, he cannot only go with the trend, if he has an alternative view point it may be a valid view point, in a most disciplined manner, he has to express," he said.

Jaitley said it is the responsibility of the civil servants to act as a link between governance structure and citizenry as the aspirations and concerns of various sections of society are different.

Agenda for the four-monthly meeting with the Chief PMG

  1. Request for taking necessary action for replacement of obsolete and outdated Laptops of Sub-Divisional Heads.   
Brief: As per Department of Post (Technology Division) letter No.40-8/2013-Tech dated 28-03-2015 (copy at 47/c), the life period for Computer and Peripheral is fixed to 5 years. In the year-2010 Directorate had supplied Laptops through DGS & D order for all 94 Sub-Divisional Heads in Odisha Circle. Therefore, the Laptops supplied to the Sub-Divisional Heads are crossing the prescribed life period during the year-2015.
This Association, therefore, requests the Circle Administration to take all necessary steps for replacement of obsolete and outdated Laptops available with the Sub-Divisional Heads.     

  1. Request for adherence of Time-schedule for preparation / completion of APARs of IPs/ASPs- Request for putting a system in place for monitoring. 

Brief:- This has a reference to old agenda No.4-5/2012 and 1-10/2013, and Association letter No. No. AIAIPASP/Corr-1/01/2015 dated 19/01/2015. The time-schedule for preparation / completion of APARs has been prescribed in Dept. of Per. & Trg. OM dated 23-7-2009. But, in many instances the Reporting Officers and Reviewing Officers are not strictly adhering to the time line to complete the APARs. In this connection four monthly meeting agenda No.1-10/2013 regarding non-completion of APARs of IPs/ASPs for the year 2011-12 in respect of IPs/ASPs of Sambalpur & Berhampur Regions, and some IPs/ASPs of Head Quarter Region for whom the DPS(BD & Technology) was reviewing authority may kindly be referred to. This Association is consistently urging to put a system in place for monitoring on adherence of Time-schedule for preparation / completion /disclosure of APARs. 

It has become a practice to enquire about the APARs only at the time of DPC for promotion or convening of screening committee for MACP cases. This is definitely a matter of concern. Even though the APAR is disclosed to the officer reported upon but the same is not available in the record (i.e. CR Dossier) in some cases. It is also learnt that in the recent DPC for promotion of IPs to ASP cadre the APAR of last five years was considered by going back due to non-availability of APARs on record (i.e. CR Dossier) though the APAR for that period is already disclosed to the officer reported upon.   

This Association once again urges for kind intervention of the CPMG in the matter and to consider the following suggestions:-

1.   Putting a system in place at Circle Office and Regional Offices for monitoring on adherence of Time-schedule for preparation / completion / disclosure of APARs.
2.   Obtaining a disclosure certificate after the crucial date i.e. 1st September of each year from the unit heads regarding disclosure of APARs to the officer reported upon in respect of IPs/ASPs working in their unit.
3.   To keep a record on status of APARs (availability in the CR Dossiers) of IPs and ASPs and disclosure certificates thereof.
4.   Issuing a direction to the unit heads to check at their end the details of non-availability of APARs of IPs/ASPs working in their unit for the last three years and to take necessary action for making available of the records in their CR Dossiers and disclosure of the APARs to the officer reported upon.

3.   Request to stop the irregular practice of reversion from ad-hoc promotion on regular appointment which has been adopted in Odisha Circle in the recent past.
Brief:- If the ad-hoc promotion is followed by a regular appointment without break, the Government Servant can exercise option within one month from the date of such regular appointment and the option shall be admissible from the date of initial appointment / promotion. It is noticed in the recent past that the IPs and ASPs on their regular appointment in ASP cadre and PS Group-B Cadre are being reverted from the ad-hoc promotion to deprive the Government Servant from the above facility which is admissible under rules.

This Association urges to stop the irregular practice of reversion from ad-hoc promotion on regular appointment which has been adopted in Odisha Circle in the recent past.

4.   Request for continuity of ad-hoc arrangement in ASP cadre and PS Group-B Cadre beyond one year by obtaining prior approval of DOPT.

Brief:- At present ad-hoc promotion is given to IPs to ASP cadre for 11 months with the arrangement of termination of ad-hoc arrangement on completion of 11 months. The practice of giving a break periodically and appointing the same person on an ad-hoc basis is discouraged in the DOPT OM No.28036/8/87-Estt.(D) dated 30.3.1988.

Therefore, this Association suggests for continuity of ad-hoc arrangement in ASP cadre and PS Group-B Cadre beyond one year by obtaining prior approval of DOPT.

(Pitabasa Jena)
Circle Secretary
 AIAIASP, Odisha Circle Branch

More News on Postal ATM

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Amendment order to the Lokpal Removal of Difficulties order, 2015.

To view please Click Here.

Frequently Asked Questions in respect of Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

To view please Click Here.

Public Servants (Furnishing of Information and Annual Return of Assets and Liabilities and the Limits for Exemption of Assets in Filing Returns) Amendment Rules, 2015.

To view please Click Here.

The All India Services (PAR) Rule, 2007 - annual health check - reg.

To view Department of Personnel & Training Letter No. 11059/01/2014-AIS-III   please Click Here.

CS writes to Chief PMG to stop reversion from ad-hoc promotion on regular appointment.

Cabinet okays increasing penalty for corruption

New Delhi, Apr 29 (PTI) Bringing corruption into the heinous crime category, the Union Cabinet today approved official amendments to an anti-graft legislation enhancing the penalty under it to a maximum of seven years imprisonment from the present five years.

The proposed amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 provides for more stringent punishment for the offences of bribery--both for the bribe giver and the bribe taker.

"Penal provisions being enhanced from minimum six months to three years and from maximum five years to seven years (the seven year imprisonment brings corruption to the heinous crime category)," a press release said.

To ensure speedy conclusion of corruption cases, a time limit of two years has been proposed.

"The average trial period of cases under PC Act in the last four years has been above eight years. It is proposed to ensure speedy trial by providing a trial completion (period) within two years," it said.

It is also proposed to extend the protection of prior sanction for prosecution to public servants who cease to hold office due to retirement, resignation etc.

"Further, prior sanction for inquiry and investigation shall be required from the Lokpal or Lokayukta, as the case may be, for investigation of offences relatable to recommendations made or decision taken by a public servant in discharge of official functions or duties," the release said.

The official amendments, approved today by the Cabinet will be the part of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 pending in Rajya Sabha, also provides guidelines for commercial organisations to prevent persons associated with them from bribing a public servant.

Government approves Rs 1,000 minimum monthly pension in perpetuity

Government today decided to continue its Rs 1,000 per minimum monthly pension scheme in perpetuity, a move which would benefit over 20 lakh pensioners under social security scheme run by EPFO. 

The scheme was initially effective only till last month. "The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today gave its approval for continuation of the minimum pension of Rs 1,000 per month to the pensioners of Employees' Pension Scheme, 1995 (EPS) beyond 2014-15 on perpetual basis. Currently, it is effective only up to March, 2015," an official press release said. 

Retirement fund body EPFO had suspended the Rs 1,000 minimum monthly pension scheme from April 1. 

The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) had to suspend the scheme in the absence of any direction from the government to continue with this benefit beyond March 31. 

The scheme was launched with effect from September 2014, hiking the pension amount to a flat Rs 1,000 per month for those who were getting lower amount earlier. 

"Providing a minimum pension of Rs 1,000 per month is an effort to provide meaningful subsistence to pensioners who have served in the organised sector. The present proposal is likely to benefit approximately 20 lakh pensioners under EPS, 1995," said the release issued today said. 

The Cabinet also approved corresponding grant of continuous annual budgetary support for implementing the minimum pension, which will be to the tune of Rs 850 crore per year on a tapering basis. 

A large number of member pensioners under the EPS, 1995 receive low pensions, which is not commensurate with the growing cost of living. 

The primary reason behind a meagre pension is that it is calculated on the basis of pensionable service and average of last sixty months' wages. 

If either of them is low, the pension amount will also be low. This is largely seen in cases of employees of seasonal industries. 

Pensioners, who were earlier members of the erstwhile Family Pension Scheme, 1971, have been given past service benefits for determining pension as per Para 12 of the Employees' Pension Scheme. This has resulted in fixation of low pension for these pensioners.

Source:-The Economic Times

FAQ on Children Education Allowance in OTA/NDA, Honorarium/Fee, Leave.

To view Department of Personnel & Training No.I-11020/1/2014-Estl(AL)  please Click Here.

CHQ News:- Sr. Postmaster CAT case filed by Haryana and Punjab Circle ends

OA No. 1328/HR/2011 filed by Punjab and Haryana Circle was argued in detail on 23/4/2015 and matter ordered to be kept reserved for pronouncement on 28/4/2015. The case was filed for following relief;

1. Quash the letter dated 3.10.2011 by which Limited Departmental Examination for Promotion to the cadre of Sr. Postmaster (Gazetted) has been ordered to be held on 31.12.2011 which is against the Department of Posts, Postal Supdts/Postmaster Group B Recruitment Rules, 1987 as amended from time to time as there is no vacant post in the quota prescribed under the rules as detailed in the preceding paras.
2. Quash the letter dated 29.11.2011 by which the applicants have been informed that ASPs are not eligible for appearing in the examination.

3. Quash the Department of Posts, Senior Postmaster (Group B Gazetted), Postmaster (Grade ‘III and II-Group B non-Gazetted) and Postmaster (Grade I-Group C Non-Gazetted) Recruitment Rules, 2010, i.e Postmasters Cadre Rules, 2010 run contrary to the Postal Services Postmaster Group B Rules, 1987 as amended from time to time, as the quota of the Inspector Line, has also been reduced from 19% and 75% by carving out the posts.

4. Issue direction to the respondents to consider the case of the members of the applicant No. 1 Union and other applicants for promotion under these rules of 1987 in their quota and promote them from due date with all the consequential benefits and it be declared that the bifurcation of quota now carried out by the respondents is illegal, arbitrary and bereft of any discernible principle.

5. Any other order or direction deemed fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case may also kindly be issued in favour of the applicants.

During the course of argument Department intimated that IP cadre will be given 97% posts in PS Gr. B cadre + 75% posts in Sr. PM cadre. This will not disturb IP Line posts quota in Gr. B cadre as per the previous calculations. General Line will be given 3% posts in PS Gr. B examination + 25% posts in Sr. PM cadre as per seniority. Therefore, IP line share would be 75% by inter-se-seniority and 22% by LDCE for promotion to the PS Gr. B cadre. Revised Recruitment Rules of PS Gr.B cadre is still not cleared by Nodal Ministry.

In view of the arguments made by department, above said OA is dismissed. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Transfer and Posting in IP Cadre in Bhubaneswar HQ Region

Shri Brajendra Hembram, IP, Badsahi Sub-Division under Mayurbhanj Division under orders of transfer as IP, Soro Sub-Division, Soro is posted as IP, Jaleswar East Sub-Division, Jaleswar under Balasore Division vide Circle Office Memo No.ST/20-13/2014 dated 28-04-2015.

Government to tweak Prevention of Corruption Act for jittery babus

With the Prevention of Corruption Act widely seen as deterring civil servants from taking decisions, the government is set to amend the law very soon. Government sources told TOI that amendments in Section 13 (1) of PC Act have been finalized and will be placed before Parliament soon. 

Sources also said that the views of CBI, which investigates all important PC Act cases, were sought before making changes in the law. The Law Commission had also given a report earlier this month in this regard. The issue was discussed in a recent meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and secretaries and the department of personnel and training has been asked to expedite the process. 

Section 13(1)(D)(III) of PC Act, 1988, which talks about criminal misconduct by a public servant, is often called draconian. Former PM Manmohan Singh was recently summoned by a trial court in coal scam case under this sub-clause of PC Act. 

The section reads, "While holding office as a public servant, obtains for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest." A public servant could be prosecuted if he/she has taken a decision which results in pecuniary gain to an individual without any public interest. The punishment may be up to seven years in jail and fine. 

Finance minister Arun Jaitley alluded to the environment of distrust among public servants while delivering the CBI's 16th D P Kohli Memorial lecture at Vigyan Bhavan on Monday. 

Jaitley said civil servants were scared of taking decisions for fear of being hauled up later. He said this law, which failed the test of differentiating between a genuine error of decision-making and an act of corruption because of its vague terminology, needed to be looked at. 

The finance minister also criticized the judiciary's interference in cases investigated by the CBI, which affected decision-making. He said judicial supervision of corruption cases had hindered the whole process of decision-making as investigators tried to make a case even in instances of "genuine error of judgment". He said this "overkill" from various institutions had not helped in the country's growth. 

He said there was a fine difference between corruption and genuine error of decision which the present anti-graft law failed to recognize. 

Talking about the PC Act, which was drafted in the pre-liberalization era in 1988, Jaitley said the scenario changed in 1991 with the opening up of the economy, where a quick decision-making process was the need of the hour. 

"Can there be decision-making where every decision-maker is on the defensive, cautious of what will eventually... if a decision is taken wrong. The economic decision will also be trial and error. It may also involve playing with the joints. It may also involve an element of risk," Jaitley said. 

"I think the 1988 Act fails that test... I think in the 1988 Act, phrases like corrupt means, public interest, pecuniary advantage, valuable thing, personal interests are phrases which are vague and capable of more than one construction. Once they are capable of more than one construction, they give to an investigator an opportunity to interpret it either way and, today, the whole ambit of the circumstances under which the investigations are held has also changed," he said. 

Jaitley also asked investigating agencies to desist from the "temptation to persecute". "An investigating agency's responsibility is huge. Its discretion is also very large and, therefore, considering the responsibility and discretion where the agency investigates more serious cases, it prosecutes and yet it has to prevent itself from the temptation to persecute," he said. 

Asserting that judiciary and CBI were two institutions which could not afford to be imperfect, Jaitley said there has to be a balance in investigation, prosecution and persecution. 

He said the judiciary started monitoring certain cases when it felt that these were not being probed appropriately. However, soon, this "rare exception" turned into "a pattern" which squeezed the discretionary powers of investigators and put them on the defensive. 

As a result, he said, decision-making in the government became a "pass the parcel game" where government officials feared taking policy decisions. 

"This whole process prepares civil servants and decision-makers where decision-making becomes a game of passing a parcel. (As a result) rather than I taking the decision, I put a non-committal note and allow the file to move so that the eventual decision is not taken by me," Jaitley said.

Source:-The Times of India

Postal ATM makes debut in Odisha

BHUBANESWAR: Postal ATMs made an entry into the state on Monday morning, with one unit each in the state capital and Cuttack.

"By introducing the ATM facilities, the postal department aims to reach out to more people with the help of latest technology. Through these ATMs people can withdraw cash from their service accounts and also avail other banking facilities. We have plans to extend our services to rural areas of the state," said chief postmaster general, Odisha circle, Tilak De.

There are 1 crore 15 lakh postal savings accounts in the state, he added.

The two units will provide the same services as normal ATMs for savings account holders in post offices. The postal department has plans to open 44 ATMs in the state in the 2015-16 financial year and would link them with commercial banks soon.

With the launch of the postal ATMs in the city, customers will get all the facilities that they get in core banking, such as cash withdrawals, mini statements, fast cash, balance enquiry, PIN change and so on. A maximum of Rs 40,000 can be withdrawn at one time, De said, adding that with the launch of the ATM, all modern and core banking facilities have been made available at the post office.

Postal department sources said, 35 Head Post offices in the state have been implementing core banking solutions and upgraded a post office into savings banks, meaning customers can operate their accounts and avail account-related services from any post office, regardless of where they maintain their accounts.

"India Post is in a reviving mode," said De, adding, three more ATMs will also be opened in Puri, Rourkela and Sambalpur next week, he added.

The postal department has also plans to link Postal Life Insurance service with core banking solutions. As a result, people can pay premiums online and check their policy status. The department will also roll out core insurance solutions, official sources said.

There are 8,200 post offices in the state, while Bhubaneswar Division has 71, with 5.79 lakh customers.

Source:-The Times of India

New ITR forms: Special team to re-draft format after criticism

The new format of Income Tax Return (ITR) forms that was withdrawn by the government in the wake of complaints over providing details of foreign trips and domestic bank accounts is being revised to make it simpler. 

"The new ITR format has been put into revision and it is on the drawing board again. A special team of officials from the CBDT is working on it in consultation with the Income Tax and Revenue department officials," a senior official privy to the development said today 

The official said the new and simplified ITR forms are expected to be notified "soon" after it is cleared by the Finance Ministry so that taxpayers can file their returns soon. 

"May be, the entire column asking details on foreign travels could be taken off as this information can be obtained by the taxman, in suspect cases, through other means. The broad contours of the new format of the ITR are being discussed," the official said. 

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the apex policy -making body of the I-T department, had recently brought out new ITR forms for the current assessment year, seeking additional details of as assessee as part of measures to check the menace of black money. 

As it stands, the new ITR forms, including the ITR-1 and ITR-2, required an assessee to furnish the number of bank accounts held by the individual "at any time (including opened/closed) during the previous year" with the last balance in the account as on March 31 of the just-concluded fiscal. 

The assessee was also supposed to furnish the name of the bank, account number, address, IFSC code and any joint account holder's name. 

With regard to a taxpayers' foreign travel, the ITR forms had also sought details of the assessee's passport number, its place of issuance, countries visited, number of times such visits were made and expenses incurred in case of a resident taxpayer. 

These were in addition to the tax department last year making it mandatory for taxpayers to mention details of all assets they hold in a foreign soil as well as the income from any source outside India. 

A few days after the earlier notification, Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das had said that the government will reconsider the new ITR forms to make it simple. 

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also called him up from Washington, asking him not to proceed further on the matter. 

Experts and consultants had criticised the new forms, saying the government was seeking too much data. They felt that the addition of new information would make the process of filing returns difficult.

Source:-The Economic Times

Grant of Dearness Relief to Central Government pensioners/family pensioners - Revised rate effective from 1.1.2015.

To view please Click Here.

CHQ News:-Cadre restructuring of Inspector Posts cadre

It is learnt that requisite information from all Circles have been received at Directorate and now all the objections/doubts are cleared. 

The proposal submitted by GS and discussed in the meeting held at Directorate on 28/11/2014 is said to be on the away of acceptance with few minor changes. File is under submission to higher authorities. 

CHQ News:-Inspector Posts Examination 2014 result likely to be declared in this week

Due to some technical and administrative reasons declaration of result of LDCE for promotion to the cadre of Inspector Posts Examination for the year 2014 held on 22 and 23/11/2014 is delayed. Now, it is expected in this week. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Declination of Promotion to Postal Service Group 'B' Cadre - order dated 24.04.2015

To view please Click Here.

Rates of DA w.e.f.1.1.2015 in the pre-revised scale as per 5th CPC

To view please Click Here.

Declaration of Assests and liabilities by public servents under section 44 of lokpal & lokayuktas Act 2013-extention of last date

To view Department of Personnel & Training OM No.407/12/2014-AVD-IV (B) dated 25-04-2015 please Click Here

What is net neutrality and why it is important?

If you like the current state of the internet, you should know about net neutrality. If you are not aware of it, don't worry.

Internet is built around the idea of openness. It allows people to connect and exchange information freely, if the information or service is not illegal. Much of this is because of the idea of net neutrality. If you like the current state of the internet, you should know about net neutrality. Many web users are aware of it. But if you are not, don't worry. We explain it here:

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is an idea derived from how telephone lines have worked since the beginning of the 20th century. In case of a telephone line, you can dial any number and connect to it. It does not matter if you are calling from operator A to operator B. It doesn't matter if you are calling a restaurant or a drug dealer. The operators neither block the access to a number nor deliberately delay connection to a particular number, unless forced by the law. Most of the countries have rules that ask telecom operators to provide an unfiltered and unrestricted phone service.

When the internet started to take off in 1980s and 1990s, there were no specific rules that asked that internet service providers (ISPs) should follow the same principle. But, mostly because telecom operators were also ISPs, they adhered to the same principle. This principle is known as net neutrality. An ISP does not control the traffic that passes its servers. When a web user connects to a website or web service, he or she gets the same speed. Data rate for Youtube videos and Facebook photos is theoretically same. Users can access any legal website or web service without any interference from an ISP.

Some countries have rules that enforce net neutrality but most don't. Instead, the principle is followed because that is how it has always been. It is more of a norm than a law.

How did net neutrality shape the internet?

Net neutrality has shaped the internet in two fundamental ways.

One, web users are free to connect to whatever website or service they want. ISPs do not bother with what kind of content is flowing from their servers. This has allowed the internet to grow into a truly global network and has allowed people to freely express themselves. For example, you can criticize your ISP on a blog post and the ISP will not restrict access to that post for its other subscribers even though the post may harm its business.

But more importantly, net neutrality has enabled a level playing field on the internet. To start a website, you don't need lot of money or connections. Just host your website and you are good to go. If your service is good, it will find favour with web users. Unlike the cable TV where you have to forge alliances with cable connection providers to make sure that your channel reaches viewers, on internet you don't have to talk to ISPs to put your website online.

This has led to creation Google, Facebook, Twitter and countless other services. All of these services had very humble beginnings. They started as a basic websites with modest resources. But they succeeded because net neutrality allowed web users to access these websites in an easy and unhindered way.

What will happen if there is no net neutrality?

If there is no net neutrality, ISPs will have the power (and inclination) to shape internet traffic so that they can derive extra benefit from it. For example, several ISPs believe that they should be allowed to charge companies for services like YouTube and Netflix because these services consume more bandwidth compared to a normal website. Basically, these ISPs want a share in the money that YouTube or Netflix make.

Without net neutrality, the internet as we know it will not exist. Instead of free access, there could be "package plans" for consumers. For example, if you pay Rs 500, you will only be able to access websites based in India. To access international websites, you may have to pay a more. Or maybe there can be different connection speed for different type of content, depending on how much you are paying for the service and what "add-on package" you have bought.

Lack of net neutrality, will also spell doom for innovation on the web. It is possible that ISPs will charge web companies to enable faster access to their websites. Those who don't pay may see that their websites will open slowly. This means bigger companies like Google will be able to pay more to make access to Youtube or Google+ faster for web users but a startup that wants to create a different and better video hosting site may not be able to do that.

Instead of an open and free internet, without net neutrality we are likely to get a web that has silos in it and to enter each silo, you will have to pay some "tax" to ISPs.

What is the state of net neutrality in India?

Legally, the concept of net neutrality doesn't exist in India. Sunil Abraham, director of Centre for internet and Society in Bangalore, says that Trai, which regulates the telecom industry, has tried to come up with some rules regarding net neutrality several times. For example it invited comments on the concept of net neutrality from industry bodies and stakeholders in 2006. But no formal rules have been formed to uphold and enforce net neutrality.

However, despite lack of formal rules, ISPs in India mostly adhere to the principal of net neutrality. There have been some incidents where Indian ISPs have ignored net neutrality but these are few and far between.

Will the concept of net neutrality survive?

Net neutrality is sort of gentlemen's agreement. It has survived so far because few people realized the potential of internet when it took off around 30 years ago. But now when the internet is an integral part of the society and incredibly important, ISPs across the world are trying to get the power to shape and control the traffic. But there are ways to keep net neutrality alive.

Consumers should demand that ISPs continue their hands-off approach from the internet traffic. If consumers see a violation of net neutrality, they ought to take a proactive approach and register their displeasure with the ISP. They should also reward ISPs that uphold the net neutrality.

At the same time, as Abraham says, Trai needs to come out with a set of clear and precise rules that protect the net neutrality. "We have started seeing ISPs trying to take control of the traffic that flows from their servers but Trai can regulate them. It can keep the internet open and consumer-friendly by forming rules that protect net neutrality. These are early days so it is easy to do. If ISPs manage to change the system, it may become too late," he says.

Source:- The Times of India