Earlier this week, the Indian government banned 59 mobile applications, citing national security concerns. A press release release Press Information Bureau Government Bans 59 mobile apps Read more said that these apps are engaged in activities that are “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”. The government also accused these apps of “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner to servers which have locations outside India”.
It’s no coincidence that all the 59 apps were of Chinese origin. From e-commerce players like Club Factory and Shein, to utility applications like UC Browser, CamScanner and SHAREit, to social media platforms like Bigo Live, Helo, and, most notably, TikTok—the short video sharing app that has taken India by storm over the last two years.
Given India’s recent, high-profile border skirmishes skirmishes CNN Twenty Indian soldiers dead after clash with China along disputed border Read more with China, it doesn’t require deep insight to assert that this was a political move. The aim being to send China a signal, as well as assuage critics within India who were demanding military and economic retaliation against its neighbour.
Be that as it may, the announcement was greeted with exultation by large swathes of the Indian startup ecosystem. It was likened to India’s Sputnik Moment Sputnik Moment Sputnik Moment The moment when a country or a society realises it needs to catch up with technological advances of another country —an opportunity for Indian startups to fill the gap left by erstwhile leaders like TikTok, and build large enduring businesses.
Speaking to The New York Times The New York Times The New York Times With India’s TikTok Ban, the World’s Digital Walls Grow Higher Read more , Dev Khare, a partner at venture firm Lightspeed India, acknowledged that India’s app ban was a populist, “feel-good” step in some ways. But he asserted that it was justified. “If this is what China does to the rest of the world, then the rest of the world has the right to do it to China,” he said.
This might well seem justified, but for the fact that Khare’s employer has a large presence in China. Lightspeed Venture Partners invests hundreds of millions of dollars in the country.