Saturday, July 9, 2011

What the Wikileaks has really leaked?

There is this old adage- “keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage”. It requires good vocabulary to talk like this and a lion-heart to follow. It’s just not easy to tell someone that you earn your living by blowing out classified documents. Julianne Assange, the face of wikileaks till now, has done what lesser mortals think it’s out of their realm. Wikileaks in all the cables it has released has sent out an important fact. It’s the fact which has gone largely unspoken and un-noticed amidst the controversies and the rampage created. The fact is of inimitable courage shown. We live in a hypocritical society, which believes truth spoken aloud is a taboo. Truth about the neighbor is always pleasant to hear. My truth is sour; thy truth will always be sweet.


 Wiki leaks saw an entrepreneurial opportunity, in the fear of society. That is also its vantage point. If the founders of facebook, Google, YouTube and other dotcom ventures are recognized and placed in the highest esteem, wikileaks on the other hand has found disgrace. From a technical perspective, it’s no less an innovation than any of the websites mentioned. If facebook, Google, YouTube empower people across the world to access and use information, wikileaks acts as the most powerful engine of right to information. If you can share friends and family pictures on the social networking sites, wikileaks is the portal which aims higher and shares information of the governments across the world.  I learnt from my college professor that – “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” In a free world which we claim we are in, why are our governments clipping our freedom to know?


The India Leaks:


For no particular reason I remember the m-seal advertisement at this point of time. I guess Manmohan Singh too thinks of it and brandishes the thought as un-usable. For a man heading a government of a billion people and waiting orders from 10 Janpath and for a person who googles- wikileaks, these thoughts are natural to occur.  Humor apart, wikileaks has made a significant impact on India. The grit shown in showcasing the naked truth behind the nation’s prestigious international agreement is enormous. The Indo-US nuke deal was bound to be “the boon” to those families living in the dark ever since Pundit Nehru made that- tryst with destiny speech. Let’s not venture into the details of the deal now because that would deviate my point out of context. The cash-for-vote scam, as it is popularly branded is one of the nation’s prestigious scams. It involved men at the helm who took reportedly 10-30 crore to cast their vote on a subject they dint understand. A survey conducted by a popular news channel in 2008 tells that most of our MP’s didn’t have the required knowledge of the nuke deal. In a nation like ours, they are empowered to craft our future. That’s definitely sad. What is more disheartening is that they are also empowered to sell the nation under the name of international agreements. If the ruling party doesn’t have the guts to face and convince the opposition, if the leaders of the ruling party shy away from debate and hide in their president’s saree, men like Nachiketa Kapoor will definitely sense an opportunity.  When the initial media reports unearthed the irregularities of the trust vote, the government showed a deaf ear. When the members of the house themselves showed piles of notes to the then newly installed cameras in the loka sabha, the government formed a standing committee to investigate and washed off its sins. When the news was about to die and erase out of people’s memories, Assange with his men sent out confirmatory text documents, not to the breaking news electronic media but to-‘The Hindu’ which is known for its quality of news printed. A fine businessman that he is, Assange likes to hit where it hurts the most.


The aftermath is in front of us. The Finance minister, who is also the leader of the lower house, cannot manage his own goliath. He admits- “I can neither confirm nor reject the cables”. It leaves little room for people to conclude. The cable has named lesser players like Ajith Singh to be the culprits. Lesser known men have shot to fame almost instantly. Allegations and accusations are now a routine to the country. I wonder what it would have been in the U.S if the parties of the nuke deal were to be reversed. The ongoing budget session of the parliament is stalled due to the leaks. The prime minister, who hides in the PMO, is forced to give an explanation on the subject.  Without, the needed vocabulary to justify, he learns to play the blame game from his grand old party. The session continues with a halted pace. These things will make way for another more prestigious scandal in the future. Let’s be optimistic! Our real concern should be on not making ourselves a locked up society, which fears to speak its mind out. The credibility of the cables may be debatable, but the messenger shouldn’t be shot.


What’s ahead?


 Our governments need to be giving up their attitude of thieves who think they can never be caught. Wikileaks, the entrepreneurial venture set to change the business of the world. If you have already branded me a spokesperson for wikileaks, let me tell you that I am a connoisseur of out of the box ideas. This one is the epitome of that. The official webpage of the organization- http://wikileaks.org claims it’s an international non-profit organization that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources, news leaks, and whistleblowers.  The point here is about the courage to come up with such an idea, the courage it takes it to execute it, the wit it takes to execute it efficiently. Till now, only the cables relating to the US and largely related to the western world have come out. India as an independent entity has got lesser importance. It might as well be because our leaders do it all in the open, possibly because our nation wouldn’t be surprised to know the leaks.  As a nation we have developed- “the sab saho, mast raho” attitude. In information stuffed world, where in you don’t have to struggle to get what you want, a group of mathematicians, computer scientists, from China, South Africa and Europe coming together and opening up a portal to find what happens behind the closed powerful doors, should be appreciated.


We as a society should encourage the trend to open up. Appreciate what is right and denounce what is wrong. We should build a platform to discuss the rights and the wrongs. Our governments, just cannot red tag the deals done in our name as confidential and deny us the access. Let there be concrete rules on branding a public document as confidential. Let’s have a fair and square discussion. If we don’t agree, let’s make the world safe for our differences. The punch line for the cover story of the Forbes magazine says, with all thy getting, get understanding. We have got enough money for generations to come, we have got the luxuries, but our understanding levels are dipping sarcastically. Forums of free speech should be encouraged by all of us. That takes us towards a brighter and a transparent society.


Delighted to write in this forum, let me end remembering Frost’s words, for they have inspired me every time I have read them. “We will not go silently into the night; we will not go down without a fight.