Consent Is Not Manufactured: Doctoring Elections through Technology

“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Mark Zuckerberg, the Founder and CEO of Facebook was quoted as saying this earlier, since the Cambridge Analytica pot started to brew. The author in an article in a post on this tabloid had the opportunity of discussing the idea that social media may be used to manufacture the outcome of elections as well.

Well, the concerns were not far enough but yes they were pretty evident, and now a British firm, Cambridge Analytica has been found to have been involved in collecting data from 50 million facebook accounts to map trends of the society to produce desired results to yield in doctored results.

Such an exercise has been declared by Chris Wylie, Co-founder and Data Scientist at Cambridge Analytica says that our governments and legislators must talk about the things that are common and have existed for decades in the technosphere, and are now affecting the democratic exercise of elections too!

The tool of Social Engineering was used to feed on the political nature of man, and inflict a sense of confidence in the identification of groups that collectively assess their will to bestow the reigns of administration of a democracy in a chosen class of the people.  Thus, data analysis or political consultancy firms such as Cambridge Analytica use the jurisdictions like India where there is non-existent data protection mechanism, which may be used to psychologically culture the consumer to produce the desired results by the client of the consultancy.

There has been an involvement of the firm in the election of Donald Trump, and there is a possibility that the upcoming elections in India and Brazil may also face similar fate. There is just one registered firm, which conducted its operations in India through a firm owned by KC Tyagi’s  (of the JD(U)) son, which had the INC, BJP and JD(U) as its clients.

The anomaly of the entire data protection is that the Indian cyber law regime is very outdated, while the Supreme Court is tasked with dealing with the question of efficacy of Aadhar and the use data by the state, there is authority ensuring the protection of data, which may be used by the tech giants.

The tech giants today, are making the people suspicious of the state, and Indian state is not the one that is lucky enough to be trusted, yet the privacy credentials, and data collection is rampant. The aadhar data leak that was brought to light by the Tribune,is also just one small fish in the pond.

The private companies that access the data, and when the State colludes with them, may be deadly concoction which may not command good responses from the civil society and there will persist a  threat perpetual surveillance.

Thus, our Supreme Court has acknowledged the fact that the privacy is a fundamental right, then the state will have to put a mechanism in place to ensure that data fishing, collection and storage by private as well as government agencies is regulated, also the devices are made complaint to the norms laid down by the community.


Divide & Rule: Congress’ Lingayat Minority Card

Not that Rahul Gandhi on the plenary of the Congress tried to push for the Mahabharata where Pandavas were the victims, and the Kauravas robbed them through their fowl play, Siddaramaiah, in Karnataka has shown the righteousness of Congress by playing the divide and rule card ahead of the elections to bring the situation to a new vote mathematics.

It is well known that a medieval saint Basaveshwara in Karnataka accorded the status of the the sole God to Lord Siva, and denounced the Vedic wisdom, to form a sect known as Lingayats. Further, some of the Lingayats chose to follow the Vedas, and were known as Veerashaiva Lingayats.

It is very important to note that the Karnataka’ society is covered by  19% Lingayats who exercise not only political influence in the state but also wield economic influence. The Lingayats have been traditionally the supporters of the BJP, and their prominent leader, BS Yeddyurappa is also a Lingayat.

The move has been lingering since 1942, and last year in December the state government appointed the Justice Nagamohan Das committee to look into whether there was a need to  confer a separate religious and minority status to their community, which was responded to in the affirmative.

The BJP and the RSS have opposed the move and have targeted their guns at the Congress, while at the same time there are many Congress leaders who have cried foul over the move.

The move has drawn ire from various quarters of the society, while some has been seen as celebrating the move. The move needs to judged objectively.

The objective of the  move is to bite into the BJP’s vote bank, and endear the community to the Congress, thereby securing a good voter percentage in the assembly elections. Thus for this to take shape, the Centre will have to concede and then the dream may become a reality.

On the whole, the grant of minority status may create many social problems and hurdles for one nation which is already divided and is finding it tough to combat the sectarian politics that is being practiced even today.

In this information age, the significance of such a move is that it gives teeth to the allegation made by Modi against the Congress, that they have been dividing and ruling the country for years.

This is actually being found to be true. There is a fault here which perhaps Siddaramaiah or his aides are not able to see is that the gods and goddesses of the Hindu/ Vedic pantheon are not different, though the practices may vary there isn’t a for a new religion altogether, except to win elections.

The move will further find cries coming from Vaishnavas, and other sects of the Hindu/ Vedic pantheon from across quarters, which will become a reality as and when a political party feels it may be loosing the election.

The rulers must be wise and think not for their benefits but the benefit of the people, where there must be an effort to realise unity and fraternity. The BJP will not accede to such a demand, while the RaGa, may think what does he and his comrades actually want to do with the country, by making politics look like a daily soap, and saas-bahu ki kahani of divide and rule!

Kasganj Riots: A Perspective

Beyond the debate that is encircling the riots whether they are communally tainted or not, there is another question that neither the Left, nor the Centre nor the Right is able to openly talk about.

The people who live in India, are known as Indians. Why is it then some people choose to identify themselves distinctly? When we talk about instilling patriotism, then people who belong to the well to do sections of the society question, ‘do we need to wear patriotism on our sleeves?’.

The entire charade of the secular (only in theory) media rests on the talk about whether the Muslims in Kasganj feel secure or not, while the rest of us, who don’t believe in certain lines of thought begin to think, why actually kasganj happened?

The author read reports prepared by established media houses, and reports made from all hues of biases that the media, vernacular or not may carry. The reports clearly tried to hide one fact that the violence erupted purely because of one incident that actually brings this author after a long time to discuss politics again.

The incident that happened was, the ABVP brigade was shouting ‘Vande Mataram’,’Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ amidst the loud background score of our National Anthem. Yes, the same song starting with “Jana Gana Man…”, which also plays in some theaters now. At this blunt show of patriotism, on the Republic Day, our Muslim brethren in the Mohalla of Kasganj, felt so infuriated, or rather penetrated, that they took it to be an infiltration bid in their territory!

This became the cause of action and all the natives began stone pelting, wait, this was followed by halting the motorcade and pressuring them to shut the loudspeakers, and over the heated argument things began to deteriorate. Again, the people who were trying to use force to halt the procession, were by chance the victim community in India, that has never threatened Hindus with their lives.

The harsh tone, is just for those readers who generalise on every equation. I don’t want to offend the number of peaceful Hindus and Moslems who live in harmony. Though, some people may never have noticed that whenever India loses to Pakistan, some Moslem ghetto celebrates the occasion while rest of the India mourns the loss.

It is for all those radical minds who live in India, enjoy their lives in India, but find Indianism as offensive as insult to their Prophet.

The ABVP motorcade is actually fun and exciting to see, and nobody in normal course of things would have  felt offended, while our brother Moslems felt so bruised that they had to take down to mob violence, and kill a man.

Amazingly, the media would never talk about the way the minority behaves, but the majority needs to be tamed. While, even Austin and the Quran believes that social discourse is a two way process.

Let us try to bring the Moslems in the fold of Indian people, over sending them to Pakistan, because there is a need for the minority to sensitize their beliefs and emotions on certain topics.

Redefining Indian Economy: Economic Survey

The NDA government led by Narendra Modi, and his confidant Arun Jaitley as its Finance Minister is about to present their last full budget on the 1st of February, 2018. The Economic Survey was put before the house today, which gathered the attention of economists and business leaders.

The carefully worded and detailed document comes in the backdrop of Demonetisation and GST implementation which have put the Indian market on a snail’s pace growth.

Despite the fanfare around the Indian economy being branded as the world’s fastest growing economy and Arun Jaitley selling the economy as one with strong macroeconomic credentials, the picture presented by the Government today is not very optimistic for many aam aadmis like us.

The economic survey projects that the Indian economy will grow at a pace of 6.7 to 7 % by the second or third quarter this year. There has been much of reliance on the IMF analysis of Indian economy and there has been a lot of talk about the need to balance the twin balance sheets after GST implementation.

The economic survey also shows that the economy will bounce to growth trajectory and the GST transition will usher in a better economic ecosystem in India with technically progressive and tax compliant regime.

Though the macroeconomic credentials are being lauded for being beyond the levels of expectation, the microeconomic credentials have not been discussed.

The bank recapitalisation exercise has been lauded as it is a move that will keep the banks in a condition to lend and afford their expenses, while the private banks will be given a push.

Also, the government aims to bag a good amount of capital by disinvesting its stake in government corporations.

The most peculiar feature of the survey remained pivotal to the cost of crude oil which has been low, all these years, while their forecast puts it to bounce this year, and will mean that our pockets will be hit directly as well as indirectly.

The survey also talked of the tanking foreign investments and direct investments that are set to grow. This means jobs for us all, while we lease out our economic system to foreign capitalists (ironic).

The expectations from the survey are based on the explanation afforded by the finance minister before the Diwali, last year, where they harped that the economic credentials on a macro scale are strong.


Unfortunately the reality has been a little different from the Lutyen’s  theory that the economic survey preaches. The middle level business community is being hit with the foreign capital backed retailers taking the business to the next level. The job creation in the formal and informal sector has been abysmally low, which one may argue, is the outcome of lack of black money, though in reality  it is the outcome of lack of purchasing power that all the people had.

Due to rigours of taxation and accounting, the businesses have suffered snarls and the people who lost their livelihood post demonetisation are also facing a crunch. Due to lack of circulation of currency, as still 3-4% currency has not been pumped in, the small scale and middle level entrepreneurs are unable to bear the operating costs and due to lack of enough business, there is a lack of lending and unemployment.

The government is also not focusing on the consumer price index to map the actual inflation figures, which is adding to the woes of the common man. This crony capitalism is new to the Indian economy, and there is no job formalisation or job creation to be seen yet, while many  businesses have shut their operations, rendering many jobless.

Are we opening our economy for the foreign capitalist to make our country a slave yet again?

Balancing Social Justice: SC/ST Creamy Layer

The Supreme Court is currently entertaining a petition on banishing the SC and ST candidates who fall in the creamy layer from availing the benefits of the reservation policy meant for the social upliftment of the castes falling in the schedules.

The move dates back to the birth of the new republic which believed in doling out social benefits to one and all in the society. The Mandal commission and VP Singh years are still remembered as there has been a wide debate on the basis and the need for reservations in all.

Today, the Indian society is going through the same ages of history where the issues of caste and reservations are debated rigorously on all the platforms of social discourse.

Need for Reservations:

The State tried to provide a level playing field to the downtrodden castes, and tribes by providing them support from the State, wherein they got the opportunity to pursue higher education at affordable prices, and also got employment under the State owing to their depressed background.

The reservations came as a blunt attack on the social ostracization that remained in place for so many years, because of which the communities that were subjected to it lived deplorable lives. The benefits were also doled out to people from the backward classes, that were dominant at one point in time, but due to lack of social opportunities failed in gaining education and employment.

All in all the move was aimed to create a better social and economic parity while at the same time it became a vote getter for the political parties.

Scenario Today:

Since almost two generations have had the opportunity to gain inclusion in modern education and employment, the communities that got the benefits of reservations may not have shown an upward trend altogether, but those who got the benefits, have outshone others. Their children today stand in a better position than their ancestors, and to everyone’s opinion do not deserve any favourable treatment from the State.

While those people belonging to the communities getting reservation, remain in the need of urgent help who have no means to even reach the platform to avail the benefits of the reservation policy because of their condition that could not change substantially.


With the Supreme Court dealing with the issue, and the creamy layer in the OBC already being barred from availing  any benefits from the reservation policy, the matter deserves a value judgement now for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

We saw the Patidars, and Jats agitating on the streets for reservations, therefore taking a cue from the recent events, we must focus on the larger section of the people who though under the umbrella, but are not available to reap the benefits of the social benefits granted to them .

Thus, the Supreme Court must consider that in the times when the government claims to have put in place a tax compliant and transparent regime, it will be easier to grant benefits to those who are in actual need of the benefits.

The Aadhar and Adhikaar of Aam Aadmi

While the Supreme Court examines the validity of the Aadhar, and the privacy invasion that will follow it, the issues that loom now around the master project are smeared with mismanagement and confusion.

The only ones who suffer are the ones in the lower social rungs. This is another aspect, while the master-hacks that were brought to light by The Tribune’s Richa Khaira, have raised serious concerns about the privacy of the Aadhar card holders who may have lost almost all of their critical information to unknown persons.

Today, the malady of the Aadhar is spreading to every corner of the nation, where a biometric identity card, which was not intended to be used as a physical identity proof, is being sought almost everywhere, from educational institutions to financial institutions.

The idea of using the Aadhar as the social security identity of the US, in India is good, no denying the fact that it breeds great statesmanship to have a vision of that magnitude, while the practical deficiencies have not been catered to and will possibly not be addressed in the immediate run.

Today, while there has been a massive data leak, there is a risk of other card-holders loosing their identities to the hands of fraudsters who may gain an access to all the valuable data of an individual who may not be able to move ahead with his life, if he is deprived of the things that an Aadhar card goes down with.

The Aadhar as a necessity, specially for financial inclusion has to be dealt with in a perspective that ensures delivery of service over denial of service. There are several people who are unable to open bank accounts because they do not have their Aadhar addresses in the districts where they want their accounts, also the services that any operator provides, is expecting to do it only with the Aadhar, and when they find the address to be different, then all that is left is a denial of service.

Today, we need aadhar for various purposes, that include delivery of subsidies, tax transparency and citizen database, which will surely make things easier, though the administrative and technical deficiencies, are not being catered to satisfactorily.

The Aadhar Act, needs certain amendments, which specify the purposes for which it is intended, while the service providers of all hues may extort the customers with their private information only on the basis of rumours.

The linking of assessee accounts with aadhar, and linking of cellphone numbers with aadhar will boost tax compliance and also promote a cyber law compliant society, but, the data that the service providers get to lay their hands on, is not a good sign. Thus the Act, which is silent on all the services that come under the aadhar, and who may access the same, need to be addressed immediately.

Hope, that UIDAI and the Indian Government soon create a plan to put  the fallacies in line with a vision of the future also, over shallow populism, which comes with policy demeanours.

Moving Towards a New Public Distribution System

While Indians showcase their strengths at the World Economic Forum, Davos, the bigger problem that we need to address is that of avoiding the branding of India as a poor country.

The WEF poverty survey 2017-2018 put 60% of the Indian population below poverty, which is equal to the $ 1.21 per person per day. The Tendulkar committee has also mentioned a figure somewhat the same, and when we add the 10% gross inflation to the prices in 2009-2010, the figures touch Rs 2000/- per person per day.

Now, since Indian economy has had one of the most historic reforms, DeMo and GST implementation, it is time we choose to move towards a more meaningful distribution system .

There has been an argument where the community leaders and economists have suggested that India must move towards Universal Basic Income, and do away with all sorts of public distribution systems.

The PDS has been marred by 70% leakages, as has been found in the official surveys. The number of Indian poor, has though considerably reduced, there remains a greater role to be played by the governments today to combat the woes faced by Indian PDS.

The Indian PDS has also seen non-target delivery of benefits which also adds to the biggest leak, whereby several thousand of people remain in lurch of necessities.

In most cases the PDS suffers because the ability of a third quarter of Indian population to earn a basic sum to feed themselves is an illusory expectation which shall never materialise.

Moreover, the informal employment has its own flaws which need to be addressed, thus just a blunt provision of raw materials at supported prices will not feed the ever increasing population of people.

The Indian state with the impetus that it has been giving to Aadhar, and the linking of accounts, underway, the new systems that must be in place for supporting the downtrodden, are ready to implement.

The future of Indian PDS is Direct Transfer of Benefits, not the Distribution system . The DBT will offer a target, time bound delivery of support which will rid the administration of burdensome mapping, and reach, while the controlled prices may be transferred through the Aadhar itself.

The shift towards UBI with DBT is also called for because, the Indian economic system is now buoyant with new taxpayers, and increased revenues due to GST implementation.

While the actual 37% of the Indian population needs a monthly support of Rs 2000, per month, the expenditure that the government shall incur will be around 2.4 million per annum, which is far less than the PDS system which consumes 2.7 million (USD) per annum and gives a 30% delivery.

The announcement may be expected from the Finance Minister in the budget 2018, where the Indian investors gets a signal that the country has balanced credentials of a middle level income group.