New Delhi : The Pegasus row has generated enough debate on spyware threats globally, as fingers are being pointed out at 45 countries.
The latest Spyware story is not at all convincing, especially in the Indian context.
But internet security is a challenge.
Are we getting dragged into a set of age-old questions – What are the adverse effects of science?
What are the side effects of Allopathic medicine?
The Pegasus row has generated enough debate on spyware threats globally.
After all, fingers are being pointed out at 45 countries.
In the Indian context, timing is crucial. PM Narendra Modi’s handpicked new IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw rightly said in Lok Sabha on Monday that the timing is not without good reason.
"The press reports have appeared a day before the Monsoon session of Parliament. This cannot be a coincidence.
In the past, similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. Those reports had no factual basis and were categorically denied by all parties, including the Supreme Court. The press reports of 18th July 2021 also appear to be an attempt to tarnish the Indian democracy and its well-established institutions".
Home Minister Amit Shah says, “The people of India have high hopes from the current monsoon session.”
In a statement, Shah has raised a few pertinent questions. “….to whose tune are these people (opposition politicians) dancing, who want to keep showing India in poor light?”
There is more to it.
India – under Prime Minister Narendra Modi – is seeking a more significant role for itself in regional and global contexts.
The US and its allies are already moving out of Afghanistan.
The war-devastated nation is already in conflicts with Pakistan as the Afghan envoy to Islamabad, Najib Alikhil, and other senior diplomats have been called back.
It is being presumed that India would play a more important role than a mere ‘development partner’ as it has done in the past in the Af-Pak and South Asian regions.
Thus, keeping New Delhi engaged in a controversy at the level of spyware would therefore suit aomeone’s narrative. Pakistan has its all-weather friend China on the horizon as well.
Therefore Shah says, “aap Chronology samajhiye (Please understand the timing and chronology). This is a report by the disrupters for the obstructers”.
He has further explained: “Disruptors are global organizations which do not like India to progress.”
This could be about Amnesty International, which has courted controversies and announced shutting its office (read shop!) in India after some foreign funding and FCRA norms issues were raised by Indian authorities.
Its bank accounts were also frozen in September 2020.
Shah also focused on the domestic front and said, “To see the rudderless Congress jump onto this bandwagon is not unexpected.”
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad and even his colleague Gaurav Bhatia also raised the issue of ‘Congress house’ not being in order as far as snooping games are concerned.
In the past, none other P Chidambaram as Home Minister had allegedly spied on the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who later moved as the President of India.
“Some years back, just because there were two Haryana police constables around, it was the Congress party that had brought down Late Chandrashekhar’s government,” Prasad said, implying snooping by tradition in Indian politics is a Congress culture.
So, the ‘Holier than thou’ attitude is not surprising.
But at the global level, internet security is a serious matter, and this ought to be addressed by the worldwide community of a unity of purpose.
Will Cathcart, the head of Whatsapp, rightly said, “This is a wake-up call for security on the Internet…Governments and companies must do everything they can to make it as secure as possible”.
Back in the Indian context, one can say that the lawmakers from opposition parties would do well to ensure that there is severe and enlightened debate on internet security.
Edward Snowden has called for restrictions in sales of spyware. “We don’t allow a commercial market in nuclear weapons. If you want to protect yourself, you to change the game, and the way to do that is by ending this trade”.
Thus, finally, the words of Urban Development and Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri make sense.
He has said, “Some of our colleagues in the opposition need to introspect of disruption is a worthy tool in democracy.”
Well, debates have never been a forte or strong point of Congress politics and its leader like Rahul Gandhi.
The repeated adjournments of both the Houses only show that the negativism mixed with anarchism continues.
This time again, this spyware row is not the right tool, or the Monsoon session of Parliament is not the right opportunity that could be used to corner the Modi government.