In order to curb dissent and freedom of expression, some governments take the drastic step of switching the internet's "off switch." All over the world, intentional internet shutdowns and deliberate slowdowns are becoming increasingly common. They generally occur when someone (usually a government) intentionally disrupts the internet or mobile apps to control what people do or say. Out of all countries worldwide, India shuts down its internet most frequently. According to Access Now data reported by Vice News, India experienced 154 shutdowns between January 2016 and May 2018. That's a huge distance ahead of second-placed Pakistan's 19 shutdown's and 8 in both Iraq and Syria.
In many countries, internet shutdowns are preemptive or reactive measures to mass or potential public unrest, with Turkey's 2016 failed military coup an obvious recent example. This is also true to some extent in India where internet access is cut off due to political turmoil, protests or military operations. India is even known to carry out shutdowns in certain regions to prevent cheating during examinations. For example, Darjeeling in West Bengal suffered a 45-day internet shutdown due to political demonstrations and protests from activists seeking a separate state while Nawada in Bihar had a 40-day shutdown as a result of communal clashes.
Given the importance of the internet, moves to block it or limit access can prove costly. In India, the sheer volume of shutdowns, coupled with their length, are getting expensive - very expensive. According to a report by The Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), 16,315 hours of intentional internet downtime between 2012 and 2017 cost the Indian economy a whopping $3.04 billion.