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No beating about the bush.
What is being proposed by the likes of Pitrodas and Nilekanis through so-called transformational government project is to subjugate nation states and turn their citizens into subjects through social control technology companies
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
-- The Fourth Amendment, Bill of Rights, United States Constitution adopted on March 1, 1792
Miraculous results can be achieved by practicing the methods of subversion. A king shall have his agents in the courts of the enemy, the ally, the Middle and the Neutral kings to spy on the kings as well as their eighteen types of high officials. A single assassin can achieve, with weapons, fire or poison, more than a fully mobilized army.
-Kautilya in Arthashastra, 150 A.D.
“There’s safety in the blindingly obvious”
--David Headley (formerly Daood Saleem Gilani), an intelligence agent
It is ‘blindingly obvious’ that biometric identification is meant for indiscriminate warrantless and automatic surveillance of citizens. It signals the arrival of the "colonial epidemic of general searches" undertaken on behalf of the monarch with unlimited power on the life and property of subjects.
How will judges hear cases in the judicial system of an Orwellian state? How will they judicially/ biometrically identify the double agents?
Will they allow themselves and their fellow citizens to be subjected to an “ever-watchful electronic sentinel in order to collect future evidence”?
Will Indian Supreme Court allow the Government and non-state actors to wield the power of surveillance over sovereign citizens as portrayed in George Orwell’s novel 1984 and Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report”? Orwell was born in India.
In the US Vs Antoine Jones case, the US Supreme Court gave its unanimous verdict on 23 January 2012 and held that by installing the Global Positioning System (GPS), an electronic device on Antoine Jones, the defendant’s jeep without a valid warrant, the police had committed a trespass and the trespass constituted an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment. Michael R Dreeben, Deputy Solicitor General, Government of US had argued that information revealed to the world is not protected by the Fourth Amendment which protected "reasonable expectation of privacy" of citizens.
In 2005 Jones was suspected of drug trafficking but he was arrested when their warrant to attach a GPS tracking device to the underside of the defendant's jeep had expired and had crossed the geographical boundary for which it was valid. Walter E Dellinger III, the former US Solicitor General and the attorney who represented Jones said the verdict was "a signal event in Fourth Amendment history." This judgement came long after the 10 member 9/11 commission of inquiry in the US had submitted its report. The verdict is attached .
During his first presidential election campaign Barack Obama promised to act against the REAL ID Act passed illegitimately for identifying citizens biometrically during the regime of George W Bush. Obama administration acted on his promise along with the States of US.
With its efforts to create Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)’s Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR), National Population Register (NPR) and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) in the aftermath of 26 November 2008 wherein 166 people were killed and more than 300 injured in the world’s fourth largest city, Mumbai, Government of India seems to be undertaking tasks which have been abandoned in US. The book ‘The Siege: The Attack on the Taj” authored by Adrian Levvy & Cathy Scott-Clark published in 2013 by Penguin Books reveals that “The handler Abu Qahafa, ‘the Bull’, has never been identified. Nor has Major Iqbal, David Headley’s ISI contact, who recruited ‘the Mice’, his information gatherers in Mumbai, who boasted of an Indian double agent called ‘Honey Bee’. None of these sources have been found or identified.” Abu Qahafa who handled the military components of Operation Bombay is a Punjabi from Bahawalpur is the second in command in Lashkar-e-Toiba which was formed in 1990 by Hafiz Saeed. The book will have us believe that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was providing consistent intelligence inputs based on its ‘significant source’ implanted in Lashkar to Indian intelligence agencies. It is admitted that Lashkar knew David Headley (formerly Daood Saleem Gilani) who befriended to be operating for western intelligence agencies.
One wonders whether the chiefs of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)’s biometric NPR and NATGRID and Planning Commission’s CIDR of biometric UID/Aadhaar numbers identify these unidentified individuals like ‘Honey Bee’ before proceeding with their task of biometrically identifying Indians. Before proceeding with these initiatives it, it must fix accountability for failure to act on available intelligence inputs about the attack on Mumbai.
What are the lessons from bomb explosions in Mumbai in April 1993 in which Sanjay Dutt was allegedly involved among others, conflict in Kargil, attack on Parliament and attack on Mumbai trains in July 2006 and on 5-star hotels and railway station in November 2008? Did it really create a rationale for indiscriminately biometrically profiling all the Indians?
Press Trust of India reported on 13 December 2013 that Chief of Army, General Bikram Singh accepted the Legion of Merit, the sixth highest military honour of the US, when he visited that country from 2nd to 5 December 2013 without the clearance from the Ministry of Defence. General Singh was also inducted into the US Army War College (USAWC) International Fellows Hall of Fame, and toured various military facilities of USA such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Benning in Georgia. The Ministry learnt about it from media. General Singh gave a keynote speech to the USAWC graduating class of 2013-2014. He is an alumnus of the USAWC, located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, having completed a course there in 2004. During his visit to the US earlier this month, Xinhua news agency reported that the Ministry has sought an explanation from General Singh but Sitanshu Kar, the spokesman for the Defense Ministry has refused to comment on the matter.
Earlier, Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma who as the Chief of the Naval Staff of Indian Navy, from 31 August 2009 to 31 August 2012 and as Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee got himself biometrically profiled on 18 August 2011. Did he take the permission of Ministry of Defence before subjecting himself to the ignominy of being biometrically profiled? It has also been reported the office Minister of Defence was implanted surveillance equipments. These incidents happened during the tenure of AK Antony as the Defence Minister.
In November 2012, Admiral Verma was appointed as the High Commissioner to Canada. Can Government of India on affidavit inform the Supreme Court that Admiral Verma’s biometric profile is not available with Canada’s Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), which is part of the intelligence sharing alliance comprising of US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and France? In an unrelated development, Nandan Nilekani was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, Canada on 31 May 2011.
Most recently, the Economic Times has published a news based on the report from Press Trust of India dated 28 December 2013 that Captain P Raghu Raman, the CEO of NATGRID has announced that "In many ways it (NATGRID) has started. There are certain elements being helped out where it is required," when he was asked if the NATGRID has begun its operations. NATGRID is born out of the lessons from 26/11 attack in Mumbai. NATGRID attempts to replicate Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of US and will require similar budgetary allocations. It is to act on the basis of 21 data sources of various intelligence and enforcement agencies for 10 user agencies. National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) was supposed to gather information through the NATGRID.
Prior to this Captain Raghu Raman was the CEO of a multinational security company, Mahindra Special Security Services Group, a subsidiary of the Mahindra Group. He has been Chairman, Internal Security Committee, Bombay Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) and head of Subgroup on Industry Guidelines and Member, National Task Force on Internal Security, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Raman had left Indian Army on a job offer from Anand Mahindra, the industrialist and took over as the CEO of the joint venture between Mahindra and British Aerospace, Mahindra Defence Land System in 2009. During the Mumbai attack of November 2008, Raman reportedly spoke constantly on the phone for nearly two days with some people trapped inside sharing "dos and don'ts" despite the fact that he had lost two friends in the terror strike.
It has been noted that 22 minutes after the first shots were fired in Leopold Café, Mumbai on 26 November 2008, Black Cats were ready but it took the Cabinet Secretary, the top most civil servant in the country, 70 minutes (one hour and 10 minutes) to contact Jyoti Dutt, the then Chief of National Security Guards (NSG) under whom Black Cats operated. Madhukar Gupta, the then Secretary, MHA was stranded in Pakistan, on government business, and could not get a flight until the morning and when he did arrive he asked Dutt who was to leave for the airstrip, to pick him up from his residence which entailed significant deviation from Dutt’s route. This is noteworthy that the authors’ name some officials and in some specific cases they just mention their designations like the Joint Secretary Police (Internal Security) who withheld the green light for the combat operations in the crucial moment. One of the sons of Syed Saleem Gilani, a radio broadcaster from Voice of America and Serrill Headley from Maryland, David Headley (formerly Daood Saleem Gilani) is a US citizen of Pakistani descent. David Headley (formerly Daood Saleem Gilani) is from a mohajir family, who migrated to Pakistan from Kapurthala, Punjab after partition. His half-brother Danyal was the public relations officer of the Pakistan’s Prime Minister. When his father died Pakistan’s Prime Minister (name?) visited his family to offer condolences. There is ‘overwhelming evidence’ that David Headley (formerly Daood Saleem Gilani) who ran ‘Reliance cyber café’ near Churchgate railway station was an intelligence agent.
Is it irrelevant to recollect as to why Adil Sharyar, son of Muhammad Yunus, a migrant from North West Frontier Province, Pakistan who was convicted in US was pardoned by the President of US? Yunus was a confidant of Indira Gandhi and was one of the names mentioned as candidates for the Presidential elections in which R Venkatraman was elected as the President. Venkatraman mentions his name in his book ‘My Presidential Years’. Sharyar was imprisoned and he was serving a 35-year sentence for setting off a firebomb, fraud and other violations in Florida. He was pardoned by Ronald Reagan on 11 June 1985, the day Rajiv Gandhi arrived in Washington for a visit with the President. What was the quid pro quo involved to secure the pardon for Sharyar from the US President? Rajiv Gandhi had told India Abroad, news agency that he had not asked for the release of his friend.
In the Parliament, Prof Madhu Dandvate had asked the Union Minister of External Affairs (MEA) whether the attention of Government has been drawn to the news report in Times of India (Delhi Edition) of 4 March 1986 under the caption ‘Ex-CIA agents’ firm made ‘Rajiv’s India’ and whether it is correct that the company which made the film is owned by a former CIA boss Max Hugel and does not such a close liaison between the former CIA boss and the firm production activities harm the national interests and security requirements. KR Narayanan, the then Minister of State in MEA had replied, “The Television Documentary “Rajiv’s India” was a joint production of Jack Anderson File/International Syndications Inc. It is a fact that Max Hugel, the President of International Syndications INC (ISI) held an official position in the CIA from 21 January 1981 to 14 July 1981” in a written reply. With regard to question as to its harm to national interests and security requirements, the minister added that it does not harm because “Normal procedures of checking with appropriate authorities for protection of national interests and security requirements are invariably observed before Government grant permission to the producers to visit India to make films. Every security precaution was observed when the television team visited India.”
Jack Anderson, the co-producer of the documentary was an investigative journalist who had exposed the infamous Nixon-Kissinger ‘tilt’ towards Pakistan during the war for the liberation of Bangladesh. Doordarshan had announced that the documentary will be broadcast nationwide but at the scheduled time it was not shown "due to certain technical problems.” The ‘technical problems’ never got solved. As per official records is it known as to for how many hours did Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi spend with Max Hugel in getting themselves recorded? Will this documentary be ever shown in India? The books of intelligence agencies underline that in the business of intelligence gathering, once an individual is recruited, he remains recruited forever. Is it untrue?
It was in this a context that Dr Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda (Sam Pitroda), a US citizen, came on an invitation from Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister. Pitroda became an advisor to Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister and is at present the advisor to the current Prime Minister on public information infrastructure and innovations (PIII) in the rank of a cabinet minister without oath of office and secrecy. He claims to be working for 'Democratisation of information', which sounds like there is safety in stating blindingly the opposite of what one intends to do.
PIII intends to connect each of the country’s 250,000 panchayats to fast, broadband connections. As per its plan, a giant, nationwide, broadband network that will not only integrate all Indians with their governments but government departments with one another, all educational and scientific institutions, every related government programme and develop new applications for these programmes as the network takes shape is unfolding. Aadhaar is a subset of this universal plan. These programmes will be controlled by applications to be developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) which created during 1975-1977. The overall plan is that UID will tag every person, GIS will tag every place, and the applications will tag every programme. Once the basic PIII is in place, it is envisaged that “Once we do the basic platforms, “Some kid will figure out the applications.” Which kid will figure out the applications? What if these applications end up undertaking surveillance of nine hundred million telephones which are currently being used in the country?
It is noteworthy that Pitroda and Hubert Vedrine, former foreign minister of France, have founded the People for Global Transformation (PGT), which held its first meeting in the last week of September 2012 with the Reliance Foundation in Mumbai. At one point, Vedrine was the Diplomatic adviser of French President, François Mitterrand during 1981-1995. Coincidentally, French Government has a stake in the Safran Group which is involved in biometric Aadhaar. In an interview to Business Standard, Pitroda said, we “come together to think about what kind of world we need to create. For over a decade, I have been telling friends that during the World War II, small groups of people got together and decided certain institutes needed to be set up and they were formed with an idea to dominate the world. So, we have the UN, World Bank, NATO and others. All these institutions do not make any sense now; they are obsolete.” They are using 10 people who from a policy-making background, from emerging and mature economies for this work.
Pitroda says, “Nation-states might not have the same meaning anymore as 70 years ago, especially in the connected world.” Global Transformation is the aim of the World Bank’s e-Transform Initiative launched in Washington in April 2010 which is unfolding in partnership with five transnational companies and national governments of France and South Korea. Meanwhile, Nandan Nilekani, the official of Planning Commission has won an award coincidentally named NDTV’s Transformational Idea Award 2011. He is also a winner of ET Award winner for Policy Agent of the Year in 2011 and a member of the ET Awards Jury in 2013. In an unrelated development, The Economic Times and The Times of India have been publishing UIDAI’s advertisements at regular intervals.
It is indeed true that a small group of people set up institutions like UN, World Bank and NATO to dominate the world. They are indeed obsolete but what is being proposed through so-called transformational government project is to subjugate nation states and turn their citizens into subjects through social control technology companies. There is democracy deficit in the these institutions but what is being bulldozed under the dictates of these very institutions only enables their firmer grip over the fate of present and future citizens.
At a convocation address on 2 December 2013, Pitroda said, “We are creating two major networks – one called knowledge network to connect all our Universities and R&D institutions, libraries and others, with 40 GB bandwidth to transfer large amounts of information so that our scientists can collaborate better, share resources and expedite research and development. The second network is to connect 250,000 local panchayats through optical fiber. When that happens, all our villages would have huge amount of broadband capacity. These two networks will cost us about Rs50,000 crore. The first one is already built the second one will be built in next eighteen months. In addition, we are creating platforms for ID (Aadhaar) that Nandan Nilekani is working on; GIS (Geographic Information Systems) – Dr Kasturirangan, Dr Ramaswamy, Dr Nayak are working on; Dr Gairola in NeGP (National e-Governance Plan) where information on food distribution, driver’s license, passport, income tax – all would be organised. We are computerizing 32 million court cases because it takes fifteen years to get justice today. We need to organise and computerize the police, CBI and prisons.” He revealed that his public information infrastructure will be ready in 2-3 years at the cost of about Rs1 lakh crore.
No one seems to have asked Pitroda who is a political appointee in the rank of a cabinet minister in the Indian National Congress-led Government as to what will be the fate of PIII related sets like UID/Aadhaar, NPR and NATGRID after the 2014 elections.
Notably, it is not only the US Supreme Court that has come in defence of democratic rights, even the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Supreme Court of Philippines has ruled against indiscriminate biometric profiling by the Government or any entity. Now Supreme Court of India has to decide whether or the letter and spirit of Fourth Amendment of US Constitution is present in Indian Constitution or not and whether the unanimous verdict of ECHR against indiscriminate profiling is relevant in India as well. Besides biometric Aadhaar, NPR, the court must consider examining the interconnectedness and legality of NIC, NATGRID and PIII as well.
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(Gopal Krishna is member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which is campaigning against surveillance technologies since 2010)