Wikidanger Assange

With switches under its control every Government tries to make right things wrong and vice versa. Easily it whitewashes its crimes. Conventional tools and people were not able to break this monopoly of the Governments. But Wikileaks is an unconventional tool. Information and dirty secrets of the Governments may be brought out. The final impact becomes disastrous for every one including its founder Julian Assange. Too much of leak is dangerous for the very survival of the global society.
Shiv Vishwanathan writes in The Deccan Chronicle on 17th December 2010
Wikileaks has become a modern fable. Its founder Julius Assange faces charges of rape and years of harassment. Mr Assange is seen as that loathsome creature, the hacker. The hacker threatens the security systems of foreign policy. But more than security Mr Assange, the hacker has exposed the hypocrisy of governments.
The leaks have exposed the arrogance of US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and her sense of pomposity of India as a self-appointed member of the United Nations Security Council. Wikileaks has provided an everyday X-ray of how the American ambassador reads the weakness of India as a soft state, too invertebrate to take on Pakistan. The disclosures reveal the contempt of the ordinary foreign service bureaucrats for politicians and political processes.
The general reactions everywhere have been a sense of outrage first at the temerity of the act of disclosure and secondly at what the disclosures reveal. It reveals the hypocrisy of bureaucrats and politicians and it also exposes the fragility of the power to information.The leaks almost seem to suggest that power exposed is power weakened. The sanctity of secrecy creates a halo around power which it does not deserve.The leaks also expose the ambivalent figure of the hacker. The hacker is half outlaw, half dissenter. He is like the Levellers and the Dissenters were in Oliver Cromwell’s time. He embodies a different idea of power and responsibility.The hacker as dissenter is a moral figure. He is an early warning system of the pathologies of power. The hacker is a liminal, ambivalent figure, anarchic enough to threaten power, an outlaw challenging the sanctity of rules and redefining them.What I want to argue is that the hacker must be seen as homeostatic to the system. Every information system needs a hacker. It threatens power but guarantees the limits of power by creating an epidemic of accountability. To control the hacker beyond the norms of democracy is futile.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has argued that phone tapping is essential because security demands and terror legitimises it. My counter argument is that if phone tapping is necessary for security, hacking is necessary for freedom.One admits the problem resides in the sense of proportion. If an excess of phone tapping creates the paranoid world of surveillance, an excess of hacking can destabilise norms.The hacker is seen as a bohemian. In fact, someone like Mr Assange is seen as bohemian in his sexuality and in his attitude to information. The hacker personalises excess. Given his liminality, the hacker must be allowed his way of life. This holds as long as the hacker is a dissenter. In that sense Mr Assange is a prisoner of conscience and must be adopted by Amnesty International as one. It is illiterate to compare him to a Cyber bin Laden. Mr Assange is a dissenter not a fundamentalist. He wants to save lives not to eliminate people. It only frightens power. Hacking is a part of the power of the powerless.The responsibility does not end with the hacker. The information the hacker revels is an invitation to citizenship. Hacking cannot end as a scandal. The scandal is a ritual that initiates deeper understanding of power. Where hacking stops, the citizen takes over — asking for accountability and transparency from power. The journalist as investigator, the dissenter as researcher finds a new sibling in the hacker as a subventor of power. The tuning fork for judgment is motive and the consequences of the hacking act. The hacker is an essential purgative to the Assange in a historical sense stands on par with Daniel Goldberg of the Pentagon tapes or the journalists Woodward and Bernstien who exposed Watergate and ended the strange career of Richard Nixon.The hacker is a special kind of whistleblower. Whistleblowing is usually an individual act of courage, an exemplary act of dissent. Hacking is more communitarian. It is a network of dissent which operates on power.I want to emphasise that I am not creating a hagiography of the hacker. I think his ambivalence is what provides a sense of limits of power. The hacker carries both the marks of a trickster and a martyr, and we need to recognise his mixed, mixed-up nature.The hacker in homoeopathic doses is necessary to prevent the arrogance of power. He is an antidote but should not become purgative. In excess he is an epidemic, in aesthetic limits he is a democratic necessity. Think of it, the right to information will be a feeble promise without the culture of hacking. If the right to information creates access to information, hacking breaks the secrecy that prevents information from going public.One might ask what the difference between wire-tapping and hacking is. Wire-tapping as an instrument is used by the structure of surveillance. Wire-tapping invades privacy.There is a final point one must emphasise in this ode to hacking. Hacking emerged like IT, out of the beat cultures that made Silicon Valley. Hacking was a dissenting cult which understood the spirit of the network and kept it alive. Hackers are not luddites. They are experts in technological folklore. As tricksters they understand that technology cannot be a servant of power. This much the Wikileaks proved and for this much Mr Assange must be seen as a force of freedom, a dissenter, a whistleblower, whose “noise” is always the unwelcome music that power cannot tolerate.


Essentials of Indian globalisation

globalisation.jpgGlobalization is in the tip of every tongue in the world today. Most of those who talk about globalization are not aware of its fundamentals. Nevertheless there is a red hot debate about this much circulated concept in academic corridors, board meetings and bed rooms. In India, there is a wide confusion about the effects and affects of globalization. Widely people think that because of the surrender of the nation state to globalization all the perils are hunting and hurting.

There is no one single effect of globalization. It is a multiple effect phenomenon impacting differently the various sectors. Those countries who master the art of combating adversities and succeeding in the battle can be called the good boys and those who fail in this fight are bad boys of globalization. India is neither totally good nor totally bad. There is a mixture of benefits and problems affecting the long standing Indian society. People swing sweeping remarks in this or that way. Very few have understood the differential consequences of globalization in India.

Generally globalization can be understood as a process which compresses the world into a small space where business and technology play a predominant role in ushering new social relations. Although globalization has started with relaxation of economic rules to accommodate free market principles and foreign players, now it has grown beyond the comprehension of economists. Today it is a massive social process demanding an all together different method to understand the developments in culture, society, religion, polity and personal relations.   These factors and characteristics of society needs separate analysis to know the globalization fully well.

Although some aspects of globalization were tried by governments’ time and again, it was the P.V. Narasimha Rao led minority government in 1991 introduced the full fledged new liberal economic reforms. The import duties were reduced, export relaxation was given, license raj in the industrial development was lowered, red tape was cut, and more importantly a red carpet was rolled out for the foreign investors. A large scale disinvestment was carried out to take the government hands off from the loss making public sector enterprises. The state protection given to the sick enterprises were withdrawn. The step motherly treatment given to the private sector was withdrawn and they were encouraged to enter the holy fields of telecommunications, aviation, power, ports, energy and other crucial infrastructural building projects. So much so a world impressive communications revolution was triggered by the neo liberal reforms.

Impact of globalization on Indian society

Positive                           Negative                             No improvement

Technology                    Agriculture                         Governance

 Gender                           Urban infrastructure        

 Economy                        Rural economy

 Civil society                    Corruption

 Local languages                                       



To respond to the reforms, there was a massive acknowledgement from the global capitalists. They started honoring the Indian government invitations and come with billion dollars to kick start production units across the country. Coupled with the inflow of foreign investments, the demand for Indian software talents throughout the world increased the nation’s clout. A huge army of software talents migrated to the Western world and facilitated an enormous amount of foreign exchange to India. This solved two major crises haunting the Indian economy. One, the foreign exchange problem started diminishing. Two, the increasing foreign investment pushed the infrastructural growth around the nation. Once primary infrastructure started growing the investor confidence kept increasing. Within fifteen years of the neo liberal economic reforms a fissionary nation was created. The divide was clear between India and Bharath. Suffering India and shining Bharath. The rich and poor, rural and urban, service class and agriculturalists, men and women, the bi polar opposites started troubling the social development. Is the globalization process a villain behind this divided society?

A careful analysis shows that the globalization which catapulted economic development has failed to produce political geniuses and governance gurus. Clearly the political class and bureaucracy have failed to respond adequately to the call of globalization. This is the same old problem of India down the ages. The rulers watched from the side walks rather than taking the lead in reforming the delivery mechanisms. The indicators of failure point finger at the unmotivated and goalless political class of the country.