governance, political economy, institutional development and economic regulation

Posts tagged ‘Net Neutrality’

TRAI’s ersatz socialism kills innovation


R.S. Sharma the new TRAI chairperson and  architect of “ersatz socialism” in the www. Photo credit: economic

By ruling against Facebook’s Free Basics type of innovation, which offers, hitherto undreamed of, free but limited access to data services, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has regressed to a version of “ersatz Nehruvian socialism”, which persist long after Panditji. It would have astounded him that his thoughts are still evoked to preserve the privileges of a thin crust of 250 million elite Indians whilst doing little for the 700 million poor Indians. Consumer benefit has been sacrificed yet again for ideology.

Nehruvian Socialism and Net Neutrality

Remember the car you used to drive in the 1970s? Most don’t, because it was an expensive, exclusive asset owned only by the rich. Even today Indian cars remain a rich person’s trophy because of the high cost of owning and using one relative to average income. Only 10 per cent of the 230 million Indian households own a car. Ironically, the TRAI order of February 8, 2016, is driven by a similar vision — preserving notional equity and freedom within a small bubble of 250 million well-off, “Internet connected” Indians owning smartphones.

poor buy

India’s poor- ersatz socialism permanently excluded them from the bubble of shiny cars. Net neutrality similarly excludes them from the virtual world. Photo credit:

Shunning innovation in the pricing of access to the Net under the garb of Net Neutrality has precisely this bubble effect. TRAI has decided to protect the existing ecosystem which privileges platform managers, content and app developers who today have unpaid access to 250 million netizens. But it ignores the need to grow this market to include 700 million Indians who are too poor to access data services other than phone calls and SMS.

TRAI’s vision of the www is like that of an owner of an expensive mall- keep the poor out.

The net is like a Mall except that you have to pay to get in and guards are actively instructed to keep shabbily dressed people out so that rich customers can float through an air-conditioned heaven- just like in Dubai. The good news is that in the real world business serves the needs of the poor through street markets because the municipality facilitates it. in a TRAI ruled internet the poor are to shunned, exactly as in expensive Malls and no street market is to be made available for the poor. The poor are to be kept invisible – as in China or Rwanda where the strong arm of the State keeps the poor severely controlled.

It is unsurprising that the Congress which has made ersatz socialism into a family business should support “Net Neutrality”. But that this should happen under a government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi which has vowed to “free” India from the social and economic chains of the past, shows that this government needs to put on its “thinking” cap.

TRAI order equates porn with socially relevant content

TRAI’s decision is perverse and here’s why. It throws out the baby with the bath water. Whilst banning price “discrimination” for content, it also effectively disallows “positive discrimination” or “affirmative action” for access to socially responsible content. In essence it says a consumer must pay to access content whether it is porn or wikipedia.

Consider a large Indian company which may want to subsidise a telecom service provider (TSP) for providing free access to educational sites targeted at helping poor or dalit kids crack the JIIT exam. The TRAI order disallows this effort.

Similarly, it bars a poor, pregnant woman, say on the outskirts of Patna, from availing free access to check the cost of having her baby in a decent hospital in Mumbai, where her husband works. Sorry, says the TRAI order. You must pay the TSP to access the Net.

It is hypocritical to simultaneously support free content-unhindered by state control whilst arguing against “affirmative action” for providing free access to the poor to socially relevant content, developed just for them.

It is not just about Facebook

It’s not only about Free Basics. It is the principle of killing innovation that’s the real concern. The Trai order kills innovation in developing socially relevant content for the poor because there is no way now of getting the content to them.

Free Basics is driven by commerce. Free access has to be paid for by someone. Today it is Facebook subsidising access, tomorrow it could be a Tata CSR project. In Africa, Net subscriptions of the poor are subsidised by foreign donors.

Net neutrality is bad economics

More practically, there is money at the bottom of the income pyramid. Activists, platform managers, content and app developers are being short sighted in ignoring the role of “free access” in getting them there. They lack the business vision of Hindustan Lever which innovated shampoo sachets two decades ago to give every woman an affordable taste of luxury. Or do they fear that international players with deep pockets may get there first before they get their act together? Are they using the garb of “Net Neutrality” as a fig leaf for self-preservation? Do existing Indian players, TSPs want to keep Facebook out so they can do the same once they become big enough?

Predatory pricing based on enormous private equity funding is the essence of the IT start up.

All IT start-ups attract customers by subsidising prices. Take Uber, Flipkart or any other. The fear that they will start increasing prices once they get bigger is misplaced because unlike the bricks and mortar world entry barriers are low in the digital economy which ensures sufficient competition to keep each big player on their toes. Guarding against predatory pricing is a slippery slope for TRAI. It can result in taking the fizz out of e-commerce which is growing by out-pricing the corner mom and pop store and traditional taxis by relying on serial funding from investors, not profits to fund unheard of price discounts. In any case India has laws and the Competition Commission of India to regulate dominance and monopoly. TRAI is hardly equipped to rule on anti-trust issues.

Today’s startup is tomorrow’s business biggie


The Bansals of Flipkart- value $ 15 billion and counting- give Amazon a run for its money. Photo credit:

Ironically, whilst making it easy to do business for “start-ups,” we are killing commercial innovation by business biggies. Can an “innovation” friendly eco-system really be sliced and diced, such that it is a “free market” for start-ups but a stiflingly regulated environment once they become a business biggie, like Facebook? In the virtual economy startups grow on the strength of innovation not government protection. In any case, the record of ersatz socialism in growing small industry via protection is miserable. The Indian Telecom industry, the only success story of privatisation and reform, has grown from being yesterday’s “start-up” to today’s business biggie. Why discriminate against it because it has been successful?

The digital eco-system must be fair to all stakeholders, not just the software and content developers

There is a symbiotic relationship between TSPs, content providers and app developers. TSPs, represented by Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), buy expensive spectrum from the government, install and maintain the telecom network to link-in netizens and ensure that the number of eyeballs grows. If the content available is attractive, netizens spend more time surfing, thereby boosting TSP revenues. They enrich app developers by buying an app off the Net.

To access content on Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon, Uber or Myntra there is no additional charge other than the Internet access cost. So are these companies just plain generous? No. Like Facebook or Google, they make their money by selling the data they gather from the netizens — demographics and preferences — to market analysts and sometimes to governments; they leverage their eyeball score to increase advertising revenue and get additional private or public equity funding. This is the money they burn to offer fantastic discounts and out-compete brick and mortar pop and mom stores.

So why does National Association of Software and Services Companies, an Indian IT lobbyist, support the Trai order? Because it is in the interest of the software developers and content providers they represent to try and hang-on to the freebie they have — the roving eyeballs of netizens for which they pay nothing.

Why do the parents of the www (US & the Brit Sir Tim Berner) support net neutrality?


Sir Tim Berner-Lee inventor of the www. Photo credit

Indian activists are fond of using the United States as an exemplar of non-discriminatory pricing access and the trenchant advocacy of Tim Berners-Lee – the inventor of the www-for net neutrality. This is their Brahmastra to clinch the argument for “Net Neutrality”.

This is unsurprising. For most netizens, the US is the mother lode of innovation, which it certainly has been. But cut-paste is bad tactics for good governance. The context in which things work is key. Activists and governments routinely overlook the difference in context in a slavish tendency to adopt best practice international templates.

Why the US is different

US poor

The poor people of the US: photo credit:

In the US, the poverty level income is $2,000 per capita per month. Data access costs just 5 per cent of income or $100. In India, the poverty level income is $30 per capita per month. Data access costs $10 or one-third of a poor woman’s income. The cost of Internet access is not an economic barrier in the United States. The US is under no compulsion to abandon “Net Neutrality”, an ideology which sounds noble. For India, TTAI’s ideology of “Net Neutrality” means the economic exclusion of 700 million poor people.

TRAI’s technical incompetence drives the ban on differential pricing

The bottom line  is that despite its rhetoric on “net neutrality” TRAI is technically incapable to monitor data services to detect instances of blocking or preferential access for content favoured by TSPs. This why it has opted for the blunt instrument of a complete ban on commercial innovation in pricing and financing. This is the worst option driven by regulatory incompetence not by high minded adherence to principles. A sad comment on the state of regulation and of consumer protection in India.

Adapted from the authors article in Asian Age February 10, 2015

TRAI: Misplaced rage against Facebook

Even as Davos was worrying over the haemorrhage of international capital from emerging markets and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was at pains to point out that India was different, a different narrative was unfolding in the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in Delhi. It had to do with a consultation paper issued by TRAI on “Differential Pricing for Data Services” inviting responses from the public. The consultation process closed on January 7.

The breaking news a few days back was the quixotic outburst by a senior TRAI official in a letter addressed to the $260-billion social media giant, Facebook, harshly rebuking it for inundating TRAI with template responses from nearly 2 million users in support of the Facebook-promoted Free Basics. The senior official was apparently outraged at the manner in which Facebook used its brute “majoritarian” muscle to intimidate TRAI with overwhelming public opinion and asserted that if such tactics were accepted, “it would have dangerous ramifications for policy making in India”

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Readers will remember that last year a TRAI consultation paper on Net Neutrality was similarly responded to by net neutrality fundamentalists to demonstrate the ground swell of opinion in favour of a strict version of neutrality. At the time TRAI was indulgent of this innovative way of crowd sourcing opinion. This time around it is Facebook, not indigent activists, on the front foot; the leadership in TRAI has changed and it seems to be open season for charges and counter charges.

Zenophobia or pique?

The “establishment” and a large swathe of Indians, bred on traditional distrust of the “Ugly American”, are quick to take offence at the in-your-face lobbying. To be fair, Facebook clearly went over the top in pushing its case. Americans play hardball and have to be restrained when dealing with other cultures, like ours, where soft, behind-the-scenes contact achieves far more.

In the instant case, Facebook’s evangelical assertion that Free Basics is all about giving free access to the “poor” lacks credibility. Free Basics is a process innovation to improve business for Facebook and the telecommunication service provider (TSP), which provides the access. But isn’t that what all successful businesses are supposed to do. Why else would you invest in them?

TRAI has developed a solid reputation for being a savvy, growth-oriented regulator. The recent outburst is quite out of sync with its image and one hopes that it remains an outlier.

The case against free access “walled gardens”

Now, on to the substance of the matter. The case against “walled gardens” like Free Basics is built around two reasons.

First, in a price-sensitive market like India, a freebie is habit forming – like reading a free newspaper which provides selective news. But it is insulting to readers to assume that they cannot see that they are getting only limited stuff. For getting a child married, they are unlikely to use the freebie and instead insert an advertisement in a popular daily, if they can afford to do so.

The second argument is that TSPs are likely to favour content providers who pay them in return for free access and shun or disadvantage others who do not. This discriminates against start-ups which do not have the financial muscle to reimburse the TSP for free access. Thereby innovation itself will be stifled, like great art which remains undiscovered because the big galleries will only stock established artists.

These are powerful concerns in an ecosystem which has grown around unhindered and near real time access to innovation via the internet.

Strict net neutrality imposes unnecessary costs on the final user of the net and sharply constrains assess in poor countries which walled gardens can help breach   

There are three counter arguments why fears that innovation will be stifled by walled gardens.

First, internet-based content is a growing market-especially in India. Only 25 per cent of Wi-Fi subscribers in India access it via a mobile. Less than a 100 million people in India have a 3G or a 4G enabled handset (one of every twelve persons). This illustrates that the potential for new business via new and better content providers is virtually unlimited.


Second, creating content is a highly competitive business like tailoring. If your trousers don’t fit, you are unlikely to order repeats. Similarly, if the content on Free Basics fails to keep up with content in the same space available elsewhere, you will switch your TSP or opt out of Free Basics. If enough apps on Free Basics are duds, it will eventually negatively impact Facebook itself, as users will either migrate to another “free walled garden”. Even if walled gardens are habit forming, they will compete with each other, possibly even on the same TSP network.

Third, the IT ecosystem automatically filters out non performers. The TSP needs data traffic to make its returns. Content providers need eyeballs for successive rounds of funding or they are forced to shut shop, merge or sell out.  This is not an ecosystem which is kind to those who are not on-top.

If the concern is to ensure voice for minorities, there is nothing to stop a walled garden from coming up specifically targeted at socially important, but fringe, groups – the lonely blogger writing on about the rights of the Rohingyas; social activists raging against growing inequality and other such laudable causes. There is nothing to stop a government-supported entity from launching a free wall where anyone can post and to which access is free. This has a parallel in public service broadcasting. Facebook’s social objectives may be doubtful. But surely non-state actors can fill that breach.

Light touch regulation requires nerves of steel and a deep resolve to not be influenced, either by public opinion or ideology. It also requires technical expertise and industry experience to drill down from motherhood concepts like “net neutrality” and contextualize its application to the market and the regulated entities. So long as the regulator remains neutral, the net is safe.

Net Neutrality can be breached if it is in national interest; does not result in dominant monopoly and is the outcome of technical or business innovation. Let’s not hang our hat by outdated ideological shibboleths. Sometimes majoritarian opinion is worth considering even if it comes via an industry biggie.

Adapted from the authors’ article in Swarajyamag

Telecom Service Providers: neutered by the “Indian” Spring


Photo credit:

Netizens- citizens who participate in public debate from the comfort of their broadband enabled “home” space- are a furiously engaged and vocal lot in India. 800,000 of them voiced their support for the nebulous concept of “net neutrality” in an outpouring of outraged emotion, similar to the 2011 Arab Spring which put paid to Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

Unlike the Arab Spring, this was the revolt of the empowered- internet penetration in India is barely 20%; broadband access is just 8% and 80% of net access is by the privileged owners of smart phones. This boils down to a privileged population of around 9 million netizens in a country of 1230 million citizens.

Like the Arab Spring, the netizen revolt was against a “perceived” threat to their empowerment-in this case cheap access to the internet- which ironically is also one of PM Modi’s promises to the entire Nation.

Keen to dampen the “revolt of the privileged” and anxious to avoid a political fallout, Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Union Telecommunication Minister, hastily set up an expert committee this week to advise him on the subject and publicly re-committed to make the net accessible for all. Sundry netas (politicians) waded in, some equating “net neutrality” with democracy, others raising it to the level of a fundamental right.

The occasion for this frenzy was an exceedingly well articulated and informative Consultation Paper issued by the telecom regulator-TRAI, calling for comments by April 24, on the need, or otherwise, to regulate Over The Top (OTT) services- communication service providers like Facebook or Google; content providers like You Tube or Netflicks; apps providers like Apple or Cloud computing and storage; e-commerce sites like eBay, Amazon and Flipkart. All these provide unregulated, unlicensed voice, audio or text services; they do not need to buy spectrum; they free ride over the “telecom pipes” built by telecom providers and incur none of the obligations (user data privacy, transparency in data management, data security) loaded by the government onto licensed Indian Telecomm providers- Airtel, Vodaphone, Idea, Reliance Comm, TATA Teleservices and Reliance JIO Infocomm.

The cause celebre inciting the wrath of netizens was an impending deal between Airtel-India’s largest and most internationalized mobile services provider and Flipkart-a Singapore-India e-retailer, which went from being a start-up in 2008 to a valuation of US$ 12 billion in end 2014. The deal in question was a “zero-rating” agreement under which customers would get free net access to the Flipkart services with the latter compensating Airtel directly. It is unclear if exclusive hosting of Flipkart on the Airtel network was built into the deal.

Rahul Khullar, the upright and technically brilliant, ex-babu (bureaucrat), economist who chairs the telecom regulator-TRAI, was as astonished as the Minister of telecom by the virulence and strength of the customer reaction. He went public yesterday and blamed the “noise” around the otherwise rather bland, technical concept of “net neutrality (NN)” as an outcome of “a corporate war between a media house and a service provider”.

Here are some facts drawn from the TRAI consultation paper followed by opinions.


Perfect NN is a mirage

First, as the TRAI paper acknowledges, perfect net neutrality (NN) is not practiced anywhere nor is it technically efficient. Management discretion with respect to the manner in which data packets move through the telecom pipes must be left with the service provider so that outcomes (service quality and cost) are optimized.


Inefficient “Free riders” impose costs

Second, just as democracy, by definition, requires the limitation of certain types of individual freedom in the interest of the common good, “free riding” by any player imposes an unfair cost on someone else, which has to be guarded against. This is best done by allowing the market forces of competition and prices to prevail with the government looking closely only at a single bottom line- sustainable benefit for the retail customer.

Innovation, yes but “free riding” no!

Third, for every start up like Flipkart which goes from zero to hero in five years, including by minimizing their upfront cost through “free riding”, there are Dumbo individual users like me who pay Rs 650 every month for a 3GB data plan but end up using only 1 GB. The spectrum space paid for, but left unused by us, is used by the Flipkarts to leverage their business.

Nothing wrong with that. If you are dumb you should lose out. But here is the knockout punch. Costless “free riding” works for all only till there is spare capacity in the “spectrum pipes”. The contention of the telecom providers is that the growth of data intensive OTT products (movies on YouTube and Netflicks; real time Cloud Storage; voice and audio services like Skype and Google Chat) have shrunk the space available in the “pipes” and reduced the quality of service for customers who use conventional voice and data services provided by telecom companies.  Ergo new investment is needed to upgrade the “pipes” and more spectrum is needed to accommodate the growth of data intensive 3G and 4G services.


The looming transmission capacity gap

Fourth, demand is exploding. Evolved services like VOIP, video services, digital services-including telemedicine, cloud computing and storage are all data intensive and requires data transmission at high speed (data streaming) with no breaks in between, unlike emails and text, which can take intermittent transmission. Text and standard content can be transmitted using a speed less than 1 Mega Bits per second (MBps). Movies in comparison require speeds of up to 10 MBps. Higher the speed more the requirement of spectrum since there are no “data packet gaps”, which can be packed in with say text, to optimize capacity usage – much like airlines pack spare seats with last minute, flexible time, low priced flyers.  TRAI reports that 36% of mobile usage in India is already for movies or video. The global average is 70%.  Growth to global levels is limited only by our quality degrading, low transmission capacity.

The government has no time bound, publicly announced plan for releasing spectrum currently hoarded by the army and by the public sector telecom companies-public gifts to them from before spectrum allocation was liberalized and its commercial value became common knowledge.

A spectrum availability gap consequently looms, as TRAI has pointed out to government. This means that TSPs have no option but to extract higher revenue efficiency from the existing spectrum for upgrading infrastructure.


Who should pay for OTT services?

Fifth, it is a standard rule of utility pricing that those on whose account an incremental cost is incurred must be made to pay the higher cost. Prior to the onset of internet based voice, video and instant messaging (chat) the normal share of “voice telephony” in TSP revenues was 70% and the residual 30% was data- sms, emails and other net usage.

Today, globally, the volume of SKYPE (the sms, voice and video over internet firm) traffic is 40% of conventional telephony and its nominal growth is larger than the growth of conventional telephony. Is this the end of the road then for conventional telephone companies? Not quite. In India and similar developing countries, conventional telephony has a reprieve. Until the transmission pipes can be strengthened to deliver good quality OTT services the demand for them will remain constrained. It is not uncommon, even today, for customers to resort to the fixed telephone network when mobile calls have a problem getting connected or get “dropped”.

Clearly, potential customers of OTT services, like movies, cloud computing and music should be ready to pay for the improved net services whilst those who are content with low data intensity conventional services, like text, should be insulated from the price hike. This requires progressive, price discrimination based on data use. Netizens point out that they already subscribe to TSP data plans for high speed access at prices determined by the market.

But TSPs complain that fierce competition constrains them from hiking data access charges for high speed data access. But the generous valuations put by incumbent TSPs in trying to hang onto spectrum allocations in the February 2015 auctions weakens their case of financial stress. The TRAI paper, unfortunately, does not share a marginal cost based assessment of the revenue requirement of TSPs to improve quality and enlarge access.


Willingness to pay

Customers should theoretically be willing to pay a higher price for accessing OTT services but India is a very price sensitive market. Over the last two decades, liberalization, fierce private sector competition and a “Nelson’s eye” regulatory approach to the quality of service, resulted in declining telecom rates and increasing usage.  This has fueled a “feel good factor”. No one wants to bust the party.

Whilst conventional TSPs have a vested interest in improving infrastructure quality their business model is under threat from technology and innovation. They have lost business in the lucrative sms market to “free” messaging services like WhatsApp (in the US it charges an annual fee of US$ 1) even though sms charges are nominal at Rs 1 per message. CARE-an Indian rating agency, estimates that the nominal revenues from sms reduced by around Rs 4000 crores (US$ 0.6 billion) in 2013.  TSP voice telephony is similarly under attack from voice OTT services. Call charges at Rs 0.5 per minute are the lowest in the world but still uncompetitive with the data cost of a VOIP call of only Rs 4 per minute. This could mean the capacity of TSPs to bear additional “pain” is limited, especially after the generous amounts bid by them in the February 2015 spectrum auctions.

That leaves only the stand-alone communication, content and app providers like Google, Facebook, Amazon – the free riders- who are unwilling to share this cost. However, their Indian clones, like Flipkart may well be willing to submit to licensing and revenue sharing just to grab market share from the entrenched global players-at least in India.

Three options, for taking us out of this conundrum, present themselves:


Back to the future: Minimum data access tariff

First: The nub of the problem is how to extract some of the enormous value being generated in unlicensed OTT services who free ride. TRAI declared regulatory forbearance on telecom tariffs with the onset of competition in services. The results have proved their wisdom. But TSPs complain a combination of artificially created spectrum scarcity have forced spectrum pricing up. Technological innovation has reduced margins on conventional telephony services and revenue flows instead to the OTT providers. The result is shrinking bottom lines for TSPs and cut backs on network upgrades.

One option could be for TRAI to prescribe a minimum tariff for high speed data access, based on the marginal cost of service studies, to ensure sufficient head room for network upgrade and access related investment. This minimum tariff could even be “discovered” by a reverse auction amongst TSPs-along the lines of the coal auctions for user power plants. The alternative is for TRAI do determine the minimum access tariff in the usual manner. This would force user charges for high speed data access up and better compensate TSPs.

The downside is that this option wrecks the ongoing party of the last decade with declining tariff fueling customer well-being. This may not be the best way to ring in Ache Din (PM Modi’s Good Days Are Here assurance)

Bring OTTs into the red tape tangle

Second: The government could license all OTT service providers and divert the additional funds to licensed TSPs to meet their network upgrade costs.  This would provide some financial relief to the TSPs and avoid a direct increase in customer telecom tariffs. But the License Fee would have to be significant to make a difference.

The biggest risk is that OTT providers, who by definition are “innovators”, dislike getting caught in red tape. Many of these are global players and shy of entangling with local laws. They could simply walk away. This may not necessarily be a bad thing since in China it resulted in the development of local clones. But India is presently not China. More significantly high License fees will be a bigger barrier for small local “innovators” who lack the deep pockets of foreign OTT providers.

To avoid the considerable barrier of a high upfront License Fee it could be recovered periodically linked to actual network use by an OTT provider. But this arrangement would need to be tracked by DOT or TRAI generating more red tape for OTT to tangle with.

Most important, PM Modi is in the process of defining an “International India”. Reducing transaction cost is an important part of the initiative. Putting OTTs into the muck of red tape does not align with all the assurances of enhancing the ease of “Doing Business”.


OTTs as bulk proxy customers of TSPs

Third, government could work on a dual strategy of massaging both the supply and the demand side of the market. On the supply side, government could announce a time bound plan to release more spectrum to ensure that the scarcity premium on spectrum becomes less burdensome for TSPs.

On the demand side, it could exercise regulatory forbearance from second-guessing the amount of “fat” there is to reallocate between customers, TSPs and OTTs. Instead it could let business arrangements prevail by encouraging mutually beneficial deals between TSPs and OTT providers, whist keeping an eye out to insulate retail customers.

In fact the Airtel- Flipkart deal was a step in this direction. Flipkart proposed to become a proxy, bulk customer for Airtel and pay it directly for the usage of all those who access its services. Small customers of Flipkart would have gained through free access.

To guard against arbitrary blocking or slowing down of access to other OTT providers, who do not choose to have such arrangements or in favour of proprietary OTT products of the TSP themselves, TRAI would need to announce a plan for exercising better oversight over data packet management to limit arbitrary and unreasonable discrimination by TSPs.

This arrangement continues the “party mood” for small consumers. It regularizes an innovative way out of the conundrum, already conceived between Flipkart and Airtel and puts pressure on global OTT players to play ball. India is the fastest growing market for the consumption of OTT products. This provides some leverage to us to lay down reasonable and light handed rules without going to the extreme step of exclusion of foreign OTTs adopted by China.  Democracy is indivisible.




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