It is now obvious why the United Progressive Alliance government has been playing the devil’s advocate and defending the US on its nefarious and all-expansive electronic surveillance programmes that clearly have base servers all over the world, including one in India. Revelations that a controversial US observation programme that sweeps the Internet usage data had 700 snooping servers installed at 150 locations around the world, particularly one located in the heart of our own country, have sent the world in a tizzy, with Germany ending its Cold War era surveillance pact with US and Britain in the aftermath of the disclosures.
However, what is even more disconcerting for us Indians is that our government is hand in glove with the National Security Agency of the US in operationalising these broadbased snooping programmes, that allow the America defence and intelligence agencies to have all the data, particularly the private and confidential information, at their own mercy. The UPA government has been aware of the contentious functional and procedural requirements of the US snooping programme, wherein scanning of vast array of Indian databases containing emails, online chats and browsing histories of millions of citizens takes place routinely. Evidently, in the light of the latest expositions, the minister of external affairs, Salman Khurshid’s previous pronouncements, defending the draconian spy games of the US, become transparently obvious, given that the minister tried to hide the objections raised by both the political opposition as well as the voices from the media and civil society over the absolute breach of privacy as effected by the covert American snooping operations.
What goes unnoticed in the glaring light of the latest disclosures is how the government, and several members of the political and bureaucratic classes, have been cultivating ties with various sections and departments of the US ministry of defence and its intelligence and security agencies, including the CIA, the NSA, the Pentagon among others. In fact, despite the knowledge that a high-ranking former officer of the India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was actually working on behalf of American intelligence agencies, the government has been bafflingly slow in prosecuting officer, and the CBI has tried hiding behind the fig leaf of his residing in the US for not taking action against him.
In the wake of the fresh expositions, wherein it has come to light that a hitherto undisclosed programme called ‘Xkeyscore’ has also been put in place by the NSA to scan the emails and databases, and UPA’s constant defence of these programmes makes it plain that the government has been in full connivance with the American agencies in this dubious deal. Moreover, a thorough study of the pattern of placements that are to be seen amongst the children of the politicians or senior bureaucrats, reveals that more often than not, these officials and their kith and kin have been working as conduits and channels through which information has been ferried across, even at the risk of jeopardising our security arrangements.
In fact, the escalation of the war on terror in the US soil has seen a corresponding rise in bolstering the Indian state with more arms and ammunitions and raising the level of paranoia amongst both the media and the state, but also among the private companies within the defence sector.