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Posts Tagged ‘India’

A PIL has been filed in India asking to get Google Earth banned. Apparently the terrorists used Google images to plot their attacks.

Considering that the terrorists also used buses, trains, cellphones and a fishing boat, perhaps we should ban those as well.

And while we are at it, we should make sure that there are no loopholes. After all, most of the data supplied by Google is provided by other parties. Even if Google Earth is no longer accessible from India, one would be able to get the information from other sources. So let us block those sites as well, indeed ban all data obtained by satellites or cameras, and ensure that such data cannot be sent into India from outside the country. Regulating the internet would be a good start.

But here’s a prediction: after all this is done, a resourceful individual will still be able to get any information he wants. For information is a rebellious bird, it can never, ever be caged. The same however, is not true of the government.

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The terrorists killed over a hundred innocent people yesterday. This wasn’t an act that took place in some distant part of the world. It happened in a city I care about, one that I have spent four summers in and where many of my friends live or have family. The attack was astounding in its scope and daring — no suicide bombers this time around but machine gun wielding militants taking hostages in posh hotels. The country is outraged and for good reason.

Yet, and yet. This is just a small thing compared to what could and looks likely to happen now. There are calls for much tougher anti-terrorism laws, possibly more draconian than what the US introduced after 9/11. In a poll conducted today by an Indian newspaper, 95% supported such measures. If laws like these are passed, the Indian police will relish in using them. Thousands of people will be rounded up on mere suspicion, many of those unrelated to terror. Some will be locked up for months, perhaps years. Phones will be tapped, due process suspended. You are thinking, all of that won’t happen to me. And you may be right, but rest assured that it will happen to many people just like you. It is when this atmosphere of panic and police-statism takes over our nation that the terrorists will have truly won this one.

QI hits the nail on the head:

The easiest reaction in a situation like this is to call for tougher laws, all of which aim to circumvent the adherence to due process. Due process anyway gets short shrift here in India, and do we really want to legitimise that? […]Shouldn’t better investigation, more co-ordination and better training be looked at first, instead of giving the police arbitrary powers to harass citizens? […] I am just terrified by the knowledge that by bringing in such laws, we have pretty much capitulated to terrorism – their objective of destroying the civil and democratic fabric of India will have been achieved. And contrary to what people feel, these won’t be effective deterrents. Simply because, in my mind, they do not address the root of the problems plaguing our law-enforcement esablishments.

He is right. The Indian police and intelligence agencies suffer from severe deficiencies. They need to be revamped. There needs to be better training, coordination and other changes. But these will have to smart changes. We don’t need knee-jerk reactions here. The deterrence value of laws that suspend due process is small and costs to essential freedoms huge. The Indian establishment could do much worse than read Bruce Shneier’s excellent blog on security measures to get some pointers.

A heavy handed law that curtails civil liberties will be a tragedy far greater than any terror attack. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” We should keep this in mind and fight to preserve the intangible things that are truly valuable, even as we take measures to prevent such atrocities from happening again.

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The Telegraph reports:

Czech scientist Petr Svacha, accused of illegally collecting insects from Singalila National Park, was let off with a fine of Rs 20,000 today after the chief judicial magistrate of Darjeeling took note of his reputation as a renowned entomologist and said he was a “victim of circumstances”.

However, his associate Emil Kucera, a forest official in the Czech Republic, was sentenced to three years of simple imprisonment and told to pay a fine of Rs 60,000.

First of all, I don’t see why there is this disparity in sentencing.

Secondly, I can understand the rationale behind criminalizing the killing of rare animals, but collecting a few beetles? Honestly? Why should there be a law against it?

They say there are no easy solutions to hard problems. But there indeed is a quick and effective way to get rid of many of the serious problems facing India. Just get rid of 90% of the laws and regulations in the Indian rulebook. Then the courts can get back to real cases and clear some of that backlog, enterprising citizens can open a new business without getting fifteen licenses, and people can live their lives the way they deem fit.

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Watch the ad first. It’s yummy.

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting of India has written to the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) asking it to make sure this advertisement is not broadcast any more, terming it indecent, vulgar and repulsive.

I have long believed that of all the useless appendages of the Indian government, the one that has the least rationale for existence is the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

As Ezra Levant would say: Fire. Them. All.

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At least thirty-seven people are dead in a series of horrific blasts in Ahmedabad, India.

Iran is going to hang thirty people tomorrow.

At first sight, the situations look dissimilar. The people dead in Ahmedabad are innocent victims of terror, their lives snuffed out brutally and callously by vengeful terrorists. The Iranians who will die tomorrow have undergone a trial according to the laws of their land and their executions will be lawful affairs handled by dignified government officials.

Yet, as the CNN report makes it clear, quite a few of the Iranians who have been sentenced to death are simply guilty of “being a public nuisance while drunk (or) being involved in illegal relationships — relationships between men and women who are not married to each other.”

Makes me wonder if the cloak of government authority really makes their deaths any more legitimate.

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In case you haven’t done so yet, do check out Savita Bhabhi, India’s first online pornographic cartoon strip. The stories are fairly standard and the art-work good though not top-class. It is appealing nonetheless. In fact, barely two months after its launch, it’s traffic rank in India — according to Alexa — is currently an astounding 66.

Which, of course, has made the moral police sweat.

According to psychologist Mythili M. Sharma, a bhabhi can stand in for a mother in a typical family arrangement if the mother should die or otherwise be unavailable.

“Websites like this one are not definitely going to be taken in good taste in India by an average Indian male psyche, because bhabhi hold a special place in the mind of an Indian male,” she said.

Indian legal experts also blasted the site, claiming it violated the country’s Internet laws.

“In my opinion this site is more dangerous than a normal adult site since it targets young Indian audience and degrades women,” said Na Vijayashankar, a security consultant based in Bangalore.

Ooh, what will happen to our country when young people stop worshipping bhabhis as asexual matronly figures and start thinking of them as women with thighs?

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The Indian government wants to be able to read all emails and messages sent by citizens. (Privacy, you say? Don’t be silly. We live in an age of terrorism. Hehe, those naive libertarian notions.)

However it discovers it is unable to decrypt the ones sent by Blackberry devices.

Pissed, it asks the parent company, RIM, to help it snoop. Hard luck, says RIM, even we don’t have a master key to decrypt the messages.

The Indian government moves towards a complete ban on usage of Blackberry devices in India.

(Just curious, does the government realise that one can always send encrypted messages over the internet? How will it stop that?)

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