Facebook's Andreessen apologises for 'colonialist' remark on India

New York: After stirring up the hornet's nest with his "anti-colonialist" remark about India, Facebook board member Marc Andreessen today apologised saying it was "ill-informed and ill-advised" comment about Indian politics and economics.

"Last night on Twitter, I made an ill-informed and ill-advised comment about Indian politics and economics. To be clear, I am 100 per cent opposed to colonialism, and 100 per cent in favour of independence and freedom, in every country, including India," he tweeted.

Andreessen, or @pmarca as he's known on Twitter, wrote: "Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?" His comment was in reference to telecom regulator TRAI banning Facebook's Free Basics and other such plans that charge different rates for Internet access based on content.

The move was hailed as a victory for net neutrality, the principle that all Internet websites should be equally accessible.

Interestingly, Facebook today announced that it has shut down Free Basics in India. Launched last year in India (with Reliance Communications), Free Basics claimed to provide basic Internet access to people in partnership with telecom operators.

Critics saw this as violation of the principle of net neutrality that states that entire Internet should be available to everyone on equal terms as Free Basics allowed access to selected websites.

In December, RCom put the service on hold following a Telecom Regulator Authority of India's directive to that effect.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also distanced himself from Andreessen's comments saying the remarks were "deeply upsetting" and did not represent the company's thinking.

Saying that he is huge admirer of India and the people here "who have been nothing but kind and generous to me for many years", Andreessen said he withdraws his comments in full and without reservation. "I apologise for any offence my comment caused... I will leave all future commentary on all of these topics to people with more knowledge and experience than me," he wrote.

Andreessen's comments had drawn sharp criticism from netizens with some calling Facebook's Free Basics plan as Internet colonialism. Facing flak, Andreessen removed the tweet. Later, he attempted to walk away from the discussion he fired up saying "I hereby withdraw from all future discussions of Indian economics or politics. Carry on."

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