Archive for the ‘ Conspiracy Analysis ’ Category

Eye In The Sky

Beginning July 13 2010, Mumbai is set to get a more privatized taste of reality television, as people see themselves participating in a so-far fantastical but now-possible season of Big Brother(or Big Boss, as is known more commonly in India), and this time the show promises to get more invasive than ever before.

The contestants – approximately 14 million citizens of Mumbai, have unwittingly been subjected to be under constant surveillance. The target audience you might ask – is MMRDA, National Remote Sensing Centre and such “developmental/law enforcement agencies”, who see the CARTOSAT-2B satellite launched by ISRO on Tuesday 13 July 2010, as a boon to help solve issues of vehicular traffic, land encroachment, city’s green-cover and any ‘unusual’ activities. The state administration will be fed live-footage via the NRSC  headquarters in Hyderabad.

The newly launched satellite provides a .93 cm resolution of Mumbai, which in the words of an MMRDA official means that ‘even a small object on the street would be visible’. The satellite is meant to track every movement  – be it vehicular or pedestrian – as admitted by authorities. Of course the city gains by getting a tighter-grip on land and mangrove encroachers, co-ordinating traffic movement and underground-utilities repair work – but has Mumbai been compromised in this ‘progressive’ step, which reeks of the Devil’s Deal? Akin to the Faustian tragedy, Mumbai has sought the government’s intervention for a more organized control of it’s administration (for reasons of vulnerability to terrorism, municipal hindrances, crime et cetera) while irrevocably surrendering a fraction of it’s liberty in the bargain.

‘Privacy’ is such a non-issue to get worked up in such a case. The alarming matter is the potentiality of the satellite’s abuse. Is it a Trojan for something unforeseen?

In this CIA-esque style of deployment of technology for Mumbai, it’s akin to living under the microscope now. The mass-surveillance program will probably ensure faster nabbing of miscreants, preempting an ecological disaster, aiding architects in city-planning – though I can’t help but think how leaders of authority can divert it’s application for ulterior motives. In countries like the US, RFID-chips are rampantly used by government as well as private organizations to help them track every citizen’s/consumer’s movement, (earning them the moniker spy-chips);  whether be it in identification paraphernalia such as passports/social security cards or FMCG products(shaving equipment, cell phones), are all part of the plan – providing commercial application to track customers’ consumption trends as well as serving Big Brother-esque control measures.

It is a well established fact in International Law journals and commentaries, that 75% of satellites orbiting in space are for military purpose, irrespective of the nation’s launch-pad, or the rhetoric governments extol to market them – weather forecasting, anti-missile systems, space exploration etc.  That my friend, is what they like to call in their BS-diplomatic jargon – ‘Dual-Technology’ – technology that can be utilized for civilian as well as military purposes. On Barack Obama’s visit to India in November 2010, there was much hype regarding the nature of business deals that were going to be signed between the two nations, in the midst of which, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao kept harping on ‘dual-technology’. The days immediately following his departure, notwithstanding the sycophantic coverage of the American President’s visit splashed across the gamut of newspapers as if no other national event deserved merit(my guess is as good as yours, several corporations and trade associations went all out with full page ‘thank you’ ads to express their joy as Lord Obama approved of their undertakings), I read leading national papers that carried articles regarding the kind of increased co-operation India & the US will have on “weather-forecasting” and “space exploration” satellites. Yeah right, NASA and ISRO are collaborating on exploring newer life-sustaining planets in other galaxies as much as Tom & Jerry did on a piece of ham! Weaponization of space is no longer relegated to sci-fi Hollywood movies, it practically began in 1980s, and as renowned political analyst and commentator, Prof. Noam Chomsky points out, is a direct consequence of the United State’s deliberate policy of issuing threats and provocation.

Don’t even get me started on the authoritarian abuse-potentiality of ‘stolen identities’ of the UID, as is widely advocated by American Republican Senator Ron Paul(that is the stuff for another blog). Closer home, the Sonia Gandhi headed NAC member Aruna Roy has been tying to create a debate on the same issue for Adhaar, the government UID project. Just turn to the American ‘primary markets’ to test their response. Soon after events of 11th September 2001, civilians from Texas appeared on state-sponsored television commercials urging their ‘responsible citizens’ to follow in their footsteps and embed themselves with RFID chips, as this could bring the country a step closer in defeating terrorism! What the frak? Some more food for thought – If Google, a private organization, can have a product of such a type as Google Earth Maps that gives you images of such proximity aerially, you don’t think the American military has a far more advanced satellite for surveillance that it deploys for domestic use as well as for their foreign involvement? Watch the movie Body Of Lies and Eagle Eye to get a sense of the kind of insane technology at the CIA’s disposal – you might say I’m crazy to base my facts over a movie, but whom else can you trust to tell you the truth, if not a person whose job it is to reflect on established customs of society and critique them? “Artistes use lies to tell the truth” says Evie Hammond from V For Vendetta! To even suggest that one should be mindful regarding the use of information from ‘official sources’ evokes nothing more than a scoff from me; it is an established truism, at least in developed countries that ‘free media’ has its head-quarters based in Neverland! Indians certainly have a reason to worry as India is Israel’s second-largest defense equipment buyer and an old client of the US. I’m just saying we might be on the brink of a ‘more-governed’ state with cops pouncing on us arbitrarily for seemingly ‘suspicious’ activities. Are those days when one could aimlessly wander anywhere without ‘intent’ or ‘motive’ a thing of the past? Now, they’d have you believe that we need to carry our ID and papers everywhere we go, just so that one can be ‘placed’ in case of a mishap, or else you’ll be suspected of being a ‘non-state’ actor upto something. By the way, the RFID chips on our UID will let them track us everywhere on this planet. “This way you can never be far away from home” will beam a Serenity-happy “Immigration Officer” in state-sponsored television adverts, notwithstanding the oversight in informing the pubic of its potential abuse.

Imagine what a disaster this is for dissidents. The government in it’s desperate attempts to overthrow the civil war in Kashmir and Maoist-dominated areas, seems to be giving in to it’s own zealous whims. P Chidambaram must be smacking his lips at the prospect of installing such satellites over Chattisgarh, Bihar and Eastern-Maharashtra to track Maoist activities- if they can’t air-bomb them, they can surely get an aerial-view and eliminate the Maoists on surface!

For those who will be quick to dismiss this as conspiracy-mongering or alarmist propaganda, let them also be known that P Chidambaram, the Home Minister of India, has announced plans of establishing a nation-wide bio-metric database of citizens to be co-ordinated by the National Investigation Agency(NIA) in 2010, using the most ‘in vogue’ marketing strategy for the justification of such retrograde programmes – for combating terrorism…Ta-da! So much for Hollywood yelling from the roof-tops for decades about future fascist governments!

A smooth ‘globalization’ seems tough to actualize with innumerable government actions already set in under guise of ‘counter-terrorism measures’ or ‘efficient assimilation programmes for immigrants’ across the globe (England’s stupid ‘English Test’ for immigrants, France’s law to deport ‘criminals’, more RFID, full-body scanners etc.) which serve to make servitude of us than solve actual problems.

The babudom is certainly in store for some improv on the streets of Mumbai now, enjoying a wider choice of ‘contestants’ to vote out, in total control of the TRP’s, which shall give such a never-before imagined audience more power to run it’s own show.

Next time you’re on the streets of Mumbai, don’t be surprised if people around you are swearing or holding out the finger to the sky for their miseries, we surely know which Big G it is directed at!

Notes

1. Column by Bombay High Court Advocate Gautam Patel on the need to supplementing Liberty with Responsibility – http://mumbaimirror.com/index.aspx?Page=article&sectname=Columnists%20-%20Gautam%20Patel&sectid=171&contentid=20110107201101070305181188bc44fa5

2. Aruna Roy speaking at the International Centre  Goa at a seminar convened on discussing expanding the powers under the RTI Act, raises an alarm on the potential abuse of the UID for targetting religious minorities – http://www.christianmessenger.in/uid-may-aid-communal-targeting-says-aruna-roy/

3. Leading newspapers report that the new ISRO sponsored-control rooms in New Delhi’s CRPF Head Quarters are meant to tackle Anti-Naxal missions – http://www.indianexpress.com/news/isroenabled-control-room-for-antinaxal-ope/737033/

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