Walled gardens stifle innovation, says tech expert on India’s PUBG ban

The main purpose of creating a “walled garden” is to shield users from certain kinds of information

PUBG Mobile, ban, India, Chinese apps, Galwan Valley, clash, ladakh
According to reports, PUBG MOBILE had seen over 50 million downloads and 33 million active users in India. Photo: Twitter

India recently banned the popular multiplayer game PUBG because of its alleged “Chinese connection” and also because India and China are currently in the middle of a border dispute. PUBG is one of the 118 Chinese apps that have been banned recently, coming after the 59 blocked in June in the wake of clashes between Indian and Chinese troops on the border..

The government of India claims the apps posed a threat to India’s “integrity and security”. One can reasonably conclude though that the logic behind this ban is simple: China is trying to encroach upon Indian territory in Ladakh, therefore, we are hitting back to teach them a lesson by getting rid of their apps.

Some thoughts in this approach appear skewed since data on conflicts says otherwise. There is an old adage: ‘Countries that do business together rarely go to war’.

According to The Capitalist Peace Theory, “Developed market-oriented economies have not engaged in war with each other and rarely enter into low-level disputes.”

In this regard, economic development is equated with capitalism. Free markets and trade cause economic development, which in turn accounts for peace among nations with advanced economies.

So the point to ponder over is that shouldn’t we be doing more business with China rather than cutting off trade ties with them?

Also, look at another aspect of the story which is brimming with nationalism. Within hours of the announcement of the ban on PUBG, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar tweeted that he would be launching a game, FAU-G, in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atmanirbhar (self reliance) movement. The actor proudly announced that 20% of the net revenue generated will be donated to a BharatKeVeer Trust, a trust created by the Home Ministry.

So, is building a business in the gaming domain just about ‘replicating games’ for the Indian market? If yes, then will doing so encourage Indian startups?

Not really, says Mohan Kumaramangalam, a techie-turned-politician and now a member of Congress. “Technology isn’t cement or steel. You can’t raise tariffs to encourage local production. Walled gardens stifle innovation and have limited use,” he says.

In the context of open and free internet, the term “walled garden” refers to a browsing environment where users are restricted to certain content on an app or website and allowed to navigate only particular areas of the application. The main purpose of creating a “walled garden” is to shield users from certain kinds of information.

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