30 Under 30: Raman Jit Singh Chima - Breaking internet's shackles

Raman Jit Singh Chima is using legal expertise to free the world wide web

Samar Srivastava
Published: Feb 16, 2016 06:51:22 AM IST
Updated: Feb 11, 2016 05:13:42 PM IST

After studying law I vectored towards journalism by accident and it's the only job I've done since. It's a job that has taken me on a private jet to Jaisalmer - where I wrote India's first feature on fractional ownership of business jets - to the badlands of west UP where India's sugar economy is inextricably now tied to politics. I'm a big fan of new business models and crafty entrepreneurs. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of those in Asia at the moment.

30 Under 30: Raman Jit Singh Chima - Breaking internet's shackles
Image: Amit verma
Rama Jit Singh Chima spends his leisure hours visiting monuments

Raman Jit Singh Chima | 29
Global policy director at Access Now, an international non-profit advocacy group
Category: Law, Policy & Politics

In 2012, when Raman Jit Singh Chima was on the rolls of Google India as a policy analyst, the company faced a knotty issue with Google Maps. The service showed Arunachal Pradesh as a part of China and strategic military installations were visible on the internet, inviting the government’s ire.

Dealing with these sensitive issues required tact and diplomacy—a task that Chima performed with aplomb. “I tried to address these issues not merely as a lawyer but in a more holistic manner,” says the graduate from the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. Given his sound academic footing, he was only too aware that the government couldn’t get Google India to approve its official maps in advance but could penalise the company later. It was a fine line and Chima recalls spending a lot of time “managing the government”.

This experience helped Chima stand in good stead. He is now global policy director at Access Now, an international non-profit advocacy group. The organisation has succeeded in getting the US to reform its controversial Patriot Act and also helped the European Parliament pass a net neutrality law. “He [Chima] understands the machinations of internet policy around the globe,” says Nikhil Pahwa, founder of Medianama.com, a digital and telecom news platform.
Over the past year, Pahwa, Chima and Apar Gupta (who was part of Forbes India’s 2015 30 Under 30 list) have come together to found savetheinternet.in, a website dedicated to net neutrality.

They’ve managed to get telecom major Airtel to suspend a plan to charge differential rates for VoIP access and successfully urged telecom regulator Trai to conduct a review of net neutrality. Trai has also stopped Facebook’s Free Basics programme, pending review. The optimist in Chima is confident that net neutrality will gain legal protection in India. “Our MPs have been surprisingly receptive to the issues we are raising,” he says.


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(This story appears in the 19 February, 2016 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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