Snooping order of PM doesn't affect 80% or more poor Indians -
Snooping order of PM doesn't affect 80% or more poor Indians
Posted 22 Dec 2018 02:40 PM

The Congress and BJP have been having heated exchanges over the 'snooping' order of the Narendra Modi government that permits 10 Central agencies (IB, R&AW, National Investigation Agency, Income Tax Department, etc.) to intercept, monitor and decrypt information generated, received, stored and transmitted by computers.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had said that this order of the Modi government converts the country into a police state. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley replied to Gandhi, saying the order was only a streamlining of the rules of 2009 framed by the then UPA government under Section 69(1) of the Information Technology Act and was needed to combat terrorism.

A Congress representative responded by saying the Modi government's snooping order was very different from the 2009 order, and P. Chidambaram said it was an “Orwellian” order.

Rahul said the snooping order showed Modi was an “insecure” prime minister, to which BJP president Amit Shah responded that the only insecure prime minsters of India had been Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

My own view is that this new order on snooping may only affect India's rich and middle classes, who would be, at most, 15-20 per cent of our population. But what has it to do with the 80 per cent or more poor Indians? They have hardly anything that can be snooped at. And how many Indians have computers?

It has been argued that the snooping order violates the right to privacy, which has been held to be a fundamental right by the Supreme Court in K.S. Puttuswamy vs Union of India. But poverty is destructive of all rights. Freedom means nothing to a man who is poor, hungry or unemployed. So this order has little to do with over 80 per cent of India's population.

Crores of Indian youth are unemployed (and their numbers have increased since 2014, despite Prime Minister Modi's promise during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to create 2 crore jobs annually). These Indian youth want jobs, snooping or no snooping.

As much as 47 per cent of Indian children are malnourished, and (according to Global Hunger Index) 21 per cent of Indian children are 'wasted' i.e., their weight is too low relative to their height, showing acute malnourishment. They need food, snooping or no snooping.

The farmers of India are in deep distress, not getting remunerative prices for their products, despite the Modi government's promise to implement the Swaminathan Committee report (recommending support price for agricultural products that are 50 per cent above the cost) and over 3 lakh farmers have committed suicide. These farmers would hardly be concerned about snooping.

Proper healthcare and good education are almost non-existent for the Indian masses. So snooping cannot make conditions worse.

And, in fact, the truth is that snooping is done by all governments, including the US government, as Edward Snowden has disclosed. Hacking of computers is not difficult.

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