Saturday, 24 July 2021 | Paritosh Kimothi | Dehradun
THE OTHER SIDE
The Pegasus spyware controversy may be projected as something major and very alarming but in reality it may not be so. First of all it would be good to have a basic understanding of how nations behave with and against each other in many ways. Consider A, B and C to be three different nations which all, diplomatically speaking, share cordial relations with each other. What happens is that A and B may work together against C, A and C may work together against B and C and B may work together against A on different aspects, all at the same time. Even while this goes on, they may also help each other out in some aspects. Nations do business with each other, compete with each other, help each other and at times also work against each other. It may sound twisted but at times, nations through any of their various agencies may also work against the interests of their own citizens, for example the manner in which the CIA allegedly facilitated smuggling of cocaine to the USA where it certainly did more harm to the citizens and society than good. However, the way things are, few nations openly accuse other friendly nations of encouraging actions which damage national interests.
Coming back to the Pegasus row, it is interesting to note how a list of potential spyware targets was projected as people who were spied upon using the spyware. Most nations have various intelligence agencies to look into various aspects of internal and external security. The basic principle is that such snooping is done on someone or something that may affect national security or is criminal in nature. We do have the right to privacy but one also wonders whether we actually have any sense of privacy. From basic flaws like building homes in a manner which makes even the loud snores or arguments of occupants audible to the neighbours to other accepted proclivities of sharing personal experiences, private details and photographs on the social media, many of us do have an odd sense of privacy. Be that as it may, the fact is that as societies grow- which is not the same as evolving- the government will tend to feel that it needs to know more about its citizens in general and a lot more about some specific persons. Closed circuit television cameras for surveillance in public spaces are just one form of monitoring which also habituate the citizens to being watched. Ideally speaking, one would dislike being in a surveillance state but are the people really sensible and responsible enough to do without being monitored?
Decades after independence, the Prime Minister had to start a nation-wide campaign to make us observe something as basic as civic sanitation. Even now, there is no dearth of people who sneakily dump their garbage or openly litter public places. We will take short cuts and break laws meant for our own welfare. Then we get brilliant representatives like the chief minister who defeated Pegasus simply by putting tape on one of the two cameras on her mobile phone.
One is definitely now defending alleged snooping by the establishment. However, the fact is such activities are not uncommon or new and will start decreasing only after the society actually evolves to a higher level. We need to understand politicians and make them act as they claim- as our representatives meant to serve the interests of the nation and its citizens. The people don’t always do this, as a result of which the political establishment is free to continue playing its games. Very soon, the snooping issue will be sidelined by some other issue, maybe something bigger or controversial- all the while the activities which really matter and affect us continue. Something requiring urgent action and eliciting serious concern of the government and the public could elicit focus enough for us to move to the next issue. The point is, will we continue shifting from one issue to the other or actually focus on the root of what really matters.