Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Aadhar reminds of Orwell’s 1984!

(Aadhar, the new ID card which is virtual indexing of the entire population, is reminiscent of George Orwell’s famous novel 1984!)
Aadhar echoes Orwell’s 1984!

One of the most important aspects of a totalitarian or a fascist regime is indexing of the population so as to keep watch over their activities. It is virtually practical implementation of the famous slogan in 1984, the “Big Brother is Watching You” in a different form and shape. The pupil scan, the finger prints, the photograph and all other particulars for each citizen are being digitised. Additionally, DNA and many other biometric elements are being added. Subsequently, all activities are being linked to the Aadhar number. Imagine digitising the entire population of 1.25 billion people! It must be the biggest enterprise of this type in history. The digital India of the future! The data base must be massive. On the positive side it may be a big help in doing away with forms, applications and so on. Just keeping a finger on the digital finger print reader gives out all one’s parameters! Definitely, it is going to end a lot of paper work. The entire project is being executed by private companies with foreign collaboration.
There are umpteen articles on the Google about the advantages and disadvantages of the Aadhar project. It would be interesting to reproduce some of the observations. Aamjanta.com has an article “Intellectual Anarchy” which gives a detailed background of the Aadhar project. Some portions are quoted here for the information of people in general. “The Aadhar is the Unique Identity number for India. The project involves issuing identity cards to all citizens which will have their biometric data stored on computers, very strangely, located in USA. Virtually, it is a Silicon Valley project! The cost of the project is estimated to be Rupees 1, 50, 000 crores! Incidentally the entire census project in 2011 which reached every citizen and created an information base that is of tremendous utility and diverse applications, cost only 2200 crores! Additionally, while the investment is done using government funds, ready databases will be controlled by private entities (who will profit from offering identification services), and the government will be paying customers of the databases it has already spent a bomb to create”.
Another website, moneyline.in carries an article by Gopal Krishna of Civil Liberties Organisation. Some excerpts from it: “The most worrisome aspect is the invasion of privacy of the citizens. Right to privacy and freedom belong to citizens by right. It is not granted by government. A government is the servant of the citizens, not its master. Governments are supposed to seek the permission to limit these rights in certain circumstances. It signals a break-down of a democratic government if it chooses to engage in indiscriminate surveillance of citizens or to impose a system of compulsory identification or to open a file on each citizen or to criminalise citizens who refuse to comply.”
“Biometric identification treats Indian citizens worse than slaves. It is an act of identification prior to any act of omission and commission.  It is a case of a deepening of everyday surveillance. It is similar to what was done under the Britain's Habitual Criminals Act of 1869 required police to keep an “Alphabetical Registry” and cross-referenced “Distinctive Marks Registry. The first held names and the latter contained the descriptions of scars, tattoos, birthmarks, balding, pockmarks, and other distinguishing features”. The surveillance aspect is the real worry. Biometrics can allow with the help of drones locate any person and monitor all activities within seconds! Government will also be in a position to know of everything by linkage with various activities.

“The proposed convergence of biometric information with financial and personal data such as residence, employment, and medical history heralds the beginning of the demolition of one of the most important firewalls in the structure of privacy. Such convergence of databases poses a threat to minorities and political opponents as they can be targeted in a situation where government is led by any Nazi party like political formations”. Incidentally, we have the present dispensation working on those “lines”. People in many of the US States and UK have rejected similar unique identity number. The privacy laws do not allow such intrusion.

Incidentally, the Supreme Court had observed that Aadhar is not mandatory but an optional thing. However, in spite of these directions, most of the government departments, banks and other public utility services are coercing people not only to go for Aadhar but to link all services with it on a compulsory basis. Every day one receives messages from mobile companies, banks and so on to link Aadhar against pain of disconnection or closure of accounts! It is really a totalitarian state coercion.

Keeping in view the cost of the project and then its utility for the major portion of the population, one wonders whether it is really worth it. Millions of Indians are still living below the poverty line where they cannot even afford a square meal daily! Large portion of the population is without cured water supply. Majority of the population in rural areas still use fields to ease themselves in spite of the project to provide toilet facilities all over India. Would it not have been better to spend this Rupees 1, 50, 000 crores on providing basic welfare services including the missing healthcare? It is tragic and ironic that Prime Minister Modi can find crores to give Aadhar card to everyone but there is no money to give oxygen to dying children in Gorakhpur Hospital! Something to ponder upon! Isn’t he climbing the wrong tree?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

India China Border Conflict

(Slowly increasing border problem may be a fore runner of a limited border engagement similar to 1962 clash which had a basis other than the disputed demarcation line!)
India China Border Conflict
There is a media hype on the Chinese side regarding possibility of a border clash in the Doklam plateau. Some reports have even suggested the possibility of a clash within two weeks! The Chinese appear to be determined to throw out the Indian troops in the area. It seems unlikely that the Chinese are so suddenly very much concerned with their border which has been in dispute for umpteen years. Chinese seem to have some other motives in pin pricking India! There appears to be a deeper political and regional motive behind Chinese aggressive posture.
One is reminded about the 1962 clash which too had a background other than the disputed boundary line. It was rather a political and an ideological clash in which China succeeded in completely changing the India neutrality! Those days India led by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru was aspiring to be the leader of South Asia. He had succeeded in setting up a Non-aligned block with Josef Tito of Yugoslavia, Dr. Sukarno of Indonesia, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and Nkrumah of Ghana. In fact the Non Aligned Movement was started in 1961 in Belgrade. Those days there were two blocks, one led by the Soviet Union and the other by USA. India under Nehru after very successfully initiating the Non-aligned movement was hoping to be its leader. This was not to the liking of Chinese. They gave a strong border push and Nehru completely forgot about non-alignment and went straight into the lap of America. The Indian Army that time was equipped with Second World War vintage 303 rifles while the Chinese already had automatic weapons. They totally dislodged Indian Army everywhere. The Indians would claim that “to strengthen their defences they have moved back to strategic locations”. A number of villages in North East were taken over by Chinese and the inhabitants had run away leaving everything there!
 Once the American C-130’s started airlifting automatic rifles and other weapons for Indian soldiers, the Chinese stopped and subsequently withdrew to the line claimed by them to be the actual border. Other interesting episodes of that conflict were Chinese humiliating steps. They cleaned and painted all the houses in villages whose occupants had run away and put sign boards, “Owners missing”! Also the Indian POW’s were sent back after brain washing and with many gifts for their families. The Non Aligned Movement was completely forgotten! Even though the NAM still exists with over 122 members, after the end of the cold war it has become totally irrelevant.
This time there is a new regional issue but with global ramifications. The alignments have also changed. The issue is the CPEC, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. In sixties of the last centuries, the tussle was ideological and political. It did not materially affect China so much. However, the present conflict has an economical basis. For the first time China is getting a direct access to the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. Already China has completed the major parts of the corridor. It involves a total investment of over $ 62 billion. The importance of CPEC to China is reflected by its inclusion as part of China's 13th five-year development plan. CPEC projects will provide China with an alternate route for energy supplies, as well as a new route by which Western China can conduct trade. Pakistan stands to gain due to upgrade of infrastructure and introduction of a reliable energy supply. Normally, India should have welcomed this economic initiative and joined the group. However, it has deliberately become a US proxy in opposing this initiative. US feel economically threatened by Chines access to the Gulf Region. Ultimately, the tussle is between US and China. Because of problems in South China Sea route and its length, the Chinese have the maximum stake in the success of the CPEC. They will not tolerate any sabotage or interference in the success of this basically an economic initiative. Apart from this the Chinese are also irked by the Indian interference in Tibet by projecting Dalai Lama through his visits to the disputed areas in Arunachal Pradesh. India is also losing its contact with Nepal and Bhutan by a bullying attitude.
Militarily, at the moment the Indian Army even though the third largest in the world, is no match for the Chinese War Machine. There have been a number of articles regarding lack of modernisation in the Indian Armed forces, especially the Air Force. The only sensible solution appears a rapprochement through dialogue. In the larger interest of the region, India should try to solve even Indo-Pak disputers through the Chinese mediation which they have readily offered. The Hindutva wave of lynching the minorities and creating a Hindu Rashtra are not going to help! If the Chinese do really push on militarily, it may prove a nemesis for the present dispensation. The time is running out fast! Let us hope and pray that the good sense prevails all around.  

Friday, August 4, 2017

Kashmir’s Job Market

(The outside workers in Kashmir both skilled and non-skilled result in an outflow of over Rupees 40 crores everyday which could be easily earned buy the locals if they were motivated and trained in various jobs!)
kashmir-migrant-labourers
Kashmir is facing a typical dichotomy in relation to employment of the local youth. According to reports almost a million youth are without any employment. A large number of these are highly “educated” or in other words possess umpteen degrees but no skills! In fact, acquiring degrees has become an obsession in Kashmir these days! On the other hand almost an equal number of outsiders both skilled and non-skilled from different parts of India are working all over the valley. Unfortunately, the local youth have been deliberately attuned to aim only for government jobs at any level. There is a virtual epidemic among the youth for seeking white collar jobs even at the lowest level regardless of the degrees possessed! The fault lies with the governments we have had right from 1947. Till the first tenure of Sheikh Abdullah there was strict enforcement by government for creating self-sufficiency in all respects. However, after his toppling in 1953 and the installation of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, the self-sufficiency went for a six. He introduced the culture of subsidy and a Kashmiri became totally dependent on outside dole.
Traditionally, Kashmiris have been very skilled craftsmen not only in regard to the world famous handicrafts but in regard to all other skills like carpentry, masonry and so on. The heritage buildings and historical monuments are a proof of the skills Kashmiris have possessed from the earliest times. In fact, some of the shrines have intricate wood-work with beautiful papier-mache designs on ceilings and walls. Right now most of these arts are dying because of the trend to get easy government jobs. In fact, the entire young generation is being converted into government slaves! The main cause for this destructive wave is the loss of the dignity of manual labour. Instead of dozens of paper degrees, the present youth need vocational training. We have to first restore dignity of manual labour right from the top. People should feel proud to work with their own hands rather than be babus pushing their pens around. This requires not only a revolutionary change in education system but a total overhaul in the mind-set of the planners as well as the leaders of all hues and shades!
Every government has been trying to engage as many youth as they can in unskilled government jobs at the lowest levels. They are creating virtually armies of slaves with zombie like existence. This government job mania is a gift from the British colonials who in their two century rule set up a totally colonial administration in every sphere of life. The freedom given by them was only physical and they continued the slavery of our minds through the systems they had introduced to keep the colony under control. They had kept India united and controlled through various central services which have continued even after their departure with a slight change in nomenclature. The Central Government has replicated the same system in Kashmir. Instead of trying to make the State self-sufficient in different spheres, it has been made totally dependent on dole in every sphere. Unfortunately, the worst misfortune of Kashmir in recent times has been its confused leaders! They have been presenting an abstract goal without bothering about the road map to that goal and the carrying on of proper and neat day to day living till one reaches the ultimate goal. The first requirement is to achieve self-sufficiency and independence in every sphere of living. The worst thing is that people are being made to believe that the government which they claim to be an “installed” one is expected to do everything. No one has been advising people that they too have certain duties towards the society! There cannot be worst hypocrisy than that!
Take for instance the flood protection measures which the government has totally failed to implement. No one bars a local initiative to undertake these leaving the government getting cooked in its own soup! How one wishes we had someone like Hakim Suyya who would make people take the initiative to clean up Jhelum and all other water bodies on their own! There are hundreds of thousands of youth sitting idle. Even one could engage these to manually clean all the water bodies thereby providing them some work! Dal Lake is virtually dead! It may soon turn into a stinking marsh. If local people take initiative on their own, it is not difficult to clean up Dal and all other water bodies. For umpteen years the weeds used to be extracted manually. Why can’t this be done now on a massive scale by the local youth led by a dynamic and a fiery leader? In fact, all environmental measures can be taken on voluntary basis if there are sincere and dynamic youth leaders.
Coming back to the job market, there is an urgent need for the civil society to take the initiative to instil respect for vocational jobs as also to restore the dignity of the manual labour. The whole mind-set of clamouring for government jobs has to be changed. Unless all our leaders take a sincere initiative in regard to this mad rush for government jobs and motivate all locals to take up the jobs presently virtually usurped by outsiders, we are surely doomed! Will someone take the initiative please!