Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Road to Serfdom: The Beginning of the Second Emergency

A hundred years from now, when historians look at India in the Twenty-First Century, the date July 15, 2006 will hold special significance.

That would be the day that would mark the undeclared and silent beginning of the Second Emergency.

The Government of India started filtering out stuff it didn't like from what Indian citizens could see on the internet, just like China does with its Great Firewall of China.

Under the Information Technology Act of 2000, a body called the Computer Emergency Response Team or CERT-IN was created to maintain India's Internet and information systems security. However CERT-IN also oversees Internet censorship under a clause that seeks to ensure 'balanced flow of information.' Any Government department can ask CERT-IN to block any website to surfers from India; CERT-IN instructs the Department of Telecommunications DoT to block the site if it finds the complaint legitimate.

Even though Indians have a Fundamental Right to Freedom of Expression, web sites can be blocked if they contain pornography, speeches of hate, contempt, slander or defamation, or if they promote gambling, racism, violence or terrorism.

However, blocking the entire blogosphere is certainly not justifiable under such a clause. The vast majority of sites blocked do not contain pornography, hate speech, contempt, slander, or defamation, nor do they promote gambling, racism, or violence.

What CERT-IN did was beyond doubt arbitrary, unreasonable and unfair, and in clear violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

It violated the Fundamental Right to Freedom of Expression enshrined in the Constitution.

This was not a mistake. The action was deliberate.

It happened barely four days after the horrific blasts in Mumbai that killed over 200 and sereverly injured over 700 innocent Indians led a large army of bloggers to ask uncomfortable questions that the mainstream Indian media had not asked:

1. Why has Home Minister Shivraj Patil not resigned even after failing to prevent so many terror strikes in such a short time in the recent past: such as attacks in Varanasi, Nagpur, Delhi, Ayodhya, Ghatkopar, Srinagar and now Mumbai ?

2. Why has Government of India been unable to prevent such a large number of gruesome attacks ? Is any preventive action being taken at all ? Why haven't the perpetrators been caught yet ? If the Government of India is unable to protect its citizens from Pakistani terrorism then what right does it have to stay in power ?

3. With no progress on such an urgent issue like terror strikes killing Indians every few weeks, why has the Government of India, instead of doing anything to improve national security, been more active instead in the last few months on divisive issues like Caste-based Reservations ?

The blogs also raised attention to the fact that the mainstream media was not helping Indians by emphasizing quick return to normalcy, and then not highlighting the lack of action in catching terrorists, and the fact that the terror attacks are happening on a regular basis every few weeks for several years now, with no end in sight, and the Government has not shown any resolve to put an end to this. The blogs urged people to keep in mind that if they keep forgetting about these attacks -- as urged by the media and politicians asking them to return to normalcy -- the attacks will keep on happening, because our enemies know that we will not even remember the attacks long enough to take any action against them. We will just forget the victims and move on.

Unless we become the victims ourselves. But then we will either be dead, or crippled for life. And we won't matter anymore. Those who will matter, the non-victims, will forget us and move on.

And the terrorism will continue as before. And thus the blogs urged the people to remember and force the politicians to take action.

They also relentlessly highlighted the Government's all-round failure on all fronts: security, diplomatic, and strongly contrasted its casual inaction with the strong resolve shown by tiny Israel's Government in risking all-out war with Lebanon and Hezbollah to save the lives of its "just two" abducted soldiers, in contrast to the Government of India that does nothing to save the lives of so many HUNDREDS of its citizens being killed in terror attacks every few weeks, and instead tries to shift their attention to other subjects, by using a shameful Casteist Divide and Rule startegy using the Reservations issue.

The truth is bitter. Faced with so much genuine criticism of its bungling and casual attitude towards a job as important as properly governing a large country with 1.1 Billion poor and hard-working people, from an internet-based diffuse group of bloggers that the Government cannot scare into submission the way it can the mainstream media, the Government took the easy way out: it blocked the blogs altogether.

This was unconstitutional, as it violated the Fundamental Right of Citizens of India to Freedom of Speech and Expression.

However, this UPA Government is not particularly known for its respect for the law.

This is the same Government that has forced the 104th Constitional Amendment down the throat of the people of India, shamelessly trying to divide them into Caste lines using the Reservations issue, trying to create for itself an "OBC Vote Bank".

Casteism is banned by the Constitution of India. Casteism is punishable with imprisonment. That has not stopped this lawless Government from going ahead with its Casteist vote-banking politics. It had the gall to cloak its blatant Casteism in the name of "social development", even when its was obvious that development of any kind is very from its mind in the way its Reservation proposal's chief proponent, the Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh displayed complete ignorance on education policy, social impact of Reservations, and even the number of OBC's in India when interviewed on TV.

Its stragegies have backfired as OBC's have refused to be fooled by this blatantly Casteist Divide and Rule strategy.

Indian students from all Castes came onto the streets and carried out nationwide demonstrations against the Government's blatantly Casteist Divide and Rule policy. The Government responded with a brutal Tianenmen Square style crackdown, beating up innocent school and college boys, even girls, breaking bones, causing internal injuries, crushing the spirit of the innocent protesters.

The road to serfdom had now officially begun.

The gradual slide of Indian society under UPA Government rule into totalitarianism accelerated when the UPA Government lied in Supreme Court: when the doctors of the AIIMS were on strike against the Government's Casteist policies, the Government went to the Supreme Court and asked it to instruct the striking doctors to return to work. It promised that no action would be taken against them. The Supreme Court, in the interest of Indian citizens inconvenienced by the halt in medical services at AIIMS, asked the doctors to return to work. In return, the Court promised to look into the Reservations issue. The doctors stopped their strike and went back to work.

As soon as the Government had gotten the doctors to end their strike, it went back on the promises it had made in Court. It refused to pay the doctors their salaries. The doctors had to go back to the Supreme Court and sue the Government, and the Supreme Court responded by severely reprimanding the Government for its blatant two-faced dishonesty.

The Government has not learnt its lesson. It continues to flout the Constitution with this latest outrage -- blocking blogs -- and violating the Constitional Fundamental Right of Indian citizens to Free Speech and Expression.

The callousness with which CERT-IN responded to the Rediff reporter Shivam Vij when asked why the blogs had been blocked as testimony enough to how little it cares about following the law:

Dr Gulshan Rai, the Director of CERT-IN, in a telephone interview to the Rediff reporter, said: "Somebody must have blocked some sites. What is your problem?"

What is our problem ? You have violated our Fundamental Rights, buster.

This seems another outrage in a long list of crimes committed by the morally bankrupt UPA Government. When the outrages will halt is not clear. Whether the outrages will lead to the establishment of totalitarianism in India will depend on how well the Indian people are able to respond to this criminal Government, and force it to back off from the dangerous direction in which it is taking the country.

There are parallels between the conduct of this UPA Government, and the way Hitler behaved during the rise of Nazism in Germany.

Hitler burned down the German Parliament building and blamed the Communists for having done it. This was a ridiculous charge, because the Communists had nothing to gain and everything to lose by getting rid of the German Parliament. They only had Members of Paliament. In contrast, the Nazi Party controlled the Chancellor's position. (Hitler was Chancellor of Germany.) Hitler on the other hand had a lot to gain -- getting rid of the pesky Parliament would have - and did -- make him the unchallenged leader of Germany.

Hitler used the act of terror -- Parliament destruction -- as an Emergency event and exercised the Enabling Act that allowed him to take control of Germany. The Communists were promptly killed off or sent to concentration camps.

Similarly the UPA is seeming to create an Emergency situation where lots of terror attacks are happening in various parts of the country every few weeks -- Ayodhya, Ghatkopar, Nagpur, Delhi, Varanasi, Srinagar, and now Mumbai. No action is being taken to catch the criminals responsible for these outrages. And ridiculous accusations are being made against the RSS.

It sure looks a lot like the second Emergency may already have started. Silently.


At 12:42 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent article and you're right.I happened to visit the banned Hindu Human Rights website and I didn't see anything inciting religious hatred against anyone.All it had was fact based human rights abuses against Hindus but it looks like that the Indian Government even finds that offensive.We’re definitely heading towards a dictatorship.


At 12:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent article and you're right.I happened to visit the banned Hindu Human Rights website and I didn't see anything inciting religious hatred against anyone.All it had was fact based human rights abuses against Hindus but it looks like that the Indian Government even finds that offensive.We’re definitely heading towards a dictatorship.



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