Flip-flop over Ankit Fadia as ‘Digital India’ ambassador

New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Digital India” campaign has evoked yet another controversy — this time over the appointment of brand ambassadors for the campaign.

Even as news was doing the rounds that self-proclaimed “ethical hacker” Ankit Fadia, 30, has been named brand ambassador for the initiative, a statement by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology on Tuesday morning first denied any such claim.

“There were certain news reports that there is a move to appoint a brand ambassador for ‘Digital India’ programme of the government. This is to clarify that there has been no such move to appoint a brand ambassador as reported,” it said.

Curiously, an hour after the post on the government’s publicity web site, it was withdrawn. But by evening, it confirmed Fadia’s appointment, along with three others — Satwat Jagwani and Krati Tiwari, both IIT toppers, and computer scientist Pranav Mistry of Samsung USA.

In the interim, however, the “ethical hacker” was in a fix.

Fadia, who shot to fame when he was all of 15 with his book “Unofficial Guide to Ethical Hacking”, stood his ground and said the appointment letter was issued on July 1 and signed by then IT secretary Ram Sewak Sharma, now chairman of the telecom watchdog.

“Yes! I posted the certificate on Facebook yesterday. I have emails from government as proof as well,” Fadia told IANS in an SMS. The said post on Facebook alluded to his claims, pointing out that he had been retained for a period of one year to propagate products and applications.

His Facebook post also said: “Humbled and honoured to be appointed as one of the brand ambassadors to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’ initiative.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Facebook sought to clarify on another controversy over “Digital India” — in terms of support for the initiative reportedly sought by chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. Critics on social media felt it also implied support for the much-criticised Internet.og initiative.

It started when Zuckerberg changed his profile picture on Facebook with a tint of green, saffron and white of the Tricolour in a symbolic gesture to suggest he supports Prime Minister Modi’s “Digital India” campaign.

He asked others to follow suit.

Accordingly, a host of Facebook users started doing the same. But it was soon noticed that if you changed your display, the code below had a small bit with the word Internet.org — an initiative netizens have been opposing for allegedly being anti-net neutrality.

It thus sent out a feeling that support to “Digital India” also meant support for Internet.org. But Facebook later clarified that it was an inadvertent mistake by an engineer and that there was absolutely no connection between updating a profile picture for ‘Digital India’ and Internet.org.

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