Nikhil Pahwa is an entrepreneur, journalist and activist. He is the Founder and Editor of MediaNama, a leading publication chronicling the evolution of digital policy in India.
Nikhil is a TED Fellow, an Asia21 Fellow and was named one of India Today Magazine’s “Indians of Tomorrow”. He has been profiled in Forbes, Wired and GQ. He is on the advisory board of the CyberBRICS project. MediaNama was awarded as an Ecosystem Builder by Fortune Magazine in 2016.
Nikhil has given talks at Harvard, Oxford, Columbia, Stanford, IIM Ahmedabad, IIT Kanpur, TISS Mumbai, among several other prestigious universities. He gave a TED Talk in 2016, and spoke at the EU’s Cyber Direct forum in 2019. He conducted two TED Discovery sessions on “How to build a movement” at the TED Summit 2019.
Nikhil led the Savetheinternet.in campaign for Net Neutrality in India, which was the largest grassroots campaign in the history of India, with over a million people participating, which led to the shut-down of Facebook’s Free Basics. He also co-founded the Internet Freedom Foundation, which focuses on advocacy for digital rights in India. He has been a part of initiatives for free speech, privacy and protection of safe harbor in India, as well as the push-back against Aadhaar, the largest biometric identity project in the world.
Nikhil has deposed before India’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technically, on issues including Net Neutrality and Regulating Facebook, apart from participating in several technology policy and telecom consultations at the Ministry of Electronics and IT, the Department of telecommunications, Ministry of Commerce and the telecom regulator TRAI. He was also an independent member on the Delhi Government’s committee for rolling out WiFi in Delhi. He was among the set of expert witnesses summoned by the Delhi Government’s committee on Peace and Harmony on Facebook’s alleged role in the Delhi Riots. This was the first ever government committee meeting to be livestreamed in India.
Nikhil’s columns have appeared in Foreign Policy, Rest of the World, Quartz, Wired (UK), the Times of India, Bloomberg Quint, The Indian Express, The Quint, Scroll.in, The Wire, Hindustan Times, the Hindu, The Economic Times, Mint, TED Ideas blog, among several other publications, and he regularly appears on national and international TV channels on issues related to the governance of the Internet, including CNBC-TV18, ET Now, CNN-IBN, NDTV, Mirror Now, as well as CNN BBC, Channel News Asia and Al Jazeera English. He has also appeared on podcasts like The Seen and the Unseen, Reddit’s Upvoted, Planet Money, Asia Inside Out, Outliers, The Filter Koffee, Around Startups, The Nullcon Podcast and Use Case; also on Radio, including NPR, Voice of America, Radio Mirchi and BIG FM.
Nikhil has been on the jury for Forbes India’s 30 under 30 award, Outlook Magazines OSM awards, Mozilla’s Equal Rating Challenge 2016 and several editions of the Mbillionth Awards for mobile innovation in South Asia.
Nikhil authored a chapter on digital issues in the book “How Liberal is India”. Nikhil’s work has been featured in several research papers, and he has been featured in books on the Indian Internet, including India Connected by Ravi Agrawal and India Social by Ankit Lal.