High Drama Surrounds Information Leaks

This week leaks of confidential information got the world’s attention. US faced the damaging consequences of WikiLeaks and India heard the controversial Radia tapes.

Senior political leaders world over were embarrassed by the derogatory terms US officials used to describe them in the cables. Some reacted angrily to defend their image. A few strong international relationships are now on a rocky path. Time will tell whether they will be able to sustain the relationship in this turmoil or end up warring with each other. Meanwhile US government is attempting damage control by pressurizing Julian Assange and related parties to close the website.

High drama is surrounding the tapes transcripts leaked in India of Nira Radia’s conversations. Prominent personalities in politics, corporate world and media are facing the heat. Allegations are doing the rounds for lobbying, corruption and frauds. Public is now skeptical about their integrity and leadership.

The question which comes up is – are these leaks good for the society? Is this benefitting society in the long run or is this just another attention seeking method and will pass away when bigger news breaks occur.

In this post, I am putting divergent views of the benefits of the leaks. The first post – “Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; To destroy this invisible government” from zunguzungu blog highlights the benefits of the leaks as it frees citizens from authoritarian leadership. The post gives an excellent intellectual argument in favor of leaks.

The second post- “The Nira Radia Tapes: Making the Wrong Call?” from Disbursed Meditations, Nandini Krishnan’s Blog, is a humorous take on the plight of prominent leaders. With emails and tapes being leaked, and frequency of sting operations increasing, the working style of corrupt officials is severely impacted. How pray are they going to function now?

In the third section, I have put two videos of Barka Dutt. In the first video, she is clarifying her role in Radia tapes leaks. In the second tape, she is discussing WikiLeaks expose.

The question is will these leaks ensure better governance, force leaders to maintain integrity and reduce corruption? Are these in public interest? Read below and think about it. Click on the headings to read the full post.

1.     Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; “To destroy this invisible government” (via zunguzungu)

“To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us, and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not. Firstly we must understand what aspect of government or neocorporatist behavior we wish to change or remove. Secondly we must develop a way of thinking about this behavior that is strong enough carry us through the mire of politically distorted language, and into a position of clarity. Finally must use these insights to inspire within us and others a course of ennobling, and effective action.”

Julian Assange, “State and Terrorist Conspiracies”

The piece of writing (via) which that quote introduces is intellectually substantial, but not all that difficult to read, so you might as well take a look at it yourself. Most of the news media seems to be losing their minds over Wikileaks without actually reading these essays, even though he describes the function and aims of an organization like Wikileaks in pretty straightforward terms. But, to summarize, he begins by describing a state like the US as essentially an authoritarian conspiracy, and then reasons that the practical strategy for combating that conspiracy is to degrade its ability to conspire, to hinder its ability to “think” as a conspiratorial mind. The metaphor of a computing network is mostly implicit, but utterly crucial: he seeks to oppose the power of the state by treating it like a computer and tossing sand in its diodes.

He begins by positing that conspiracy and authoritarianism go hand in hand, arguing that since authoritarianism produces resistance to itself — to the extent that its authoritarianism becomes generally known — it can only continue to exist and function by preventing its intentions (the authorship of its authority?) from being generally known. It inevitably becomes, he argues, a conspiracy:

Authoritarian regimes give rise to forces which oppose them by pushing against the individual and collective will to freedom, truth and self realization. Plans which assist authoritarian rule, once discovered, induce resistance. Hence these plans are concealed by successful authoritarian powers. This is enough to define their behavior as conspiratorial.

2.    The Nira Radia Tapes: Making the Wrong Call? (via Disbursed Meditations, Nandini Krishnan’s Blog ) 

So, the question is, how do the movers and shakers of this country keep the corruption rate intact without getting themselves into any trouble? Here are some covers that could provide our politicians with fool-proof meeting ground:

Host more parties: Munching while talking should be a good enough code, the noise would buffer…ahem, diplomatic conversations, entry is by invitation only, and since most politicians will be in attendance, the process of Chinese whispers should be quicker.

How do politicians party when the nation’s in disarray? Well, they could consider not confining their secularity to the Iftar season. With Deepavali, Christmas, Pongal, Bihu,  Holi, chhath puja, Ganesh Chathurthi, Rath Yatra, Dusshehra/ Navaraatri/ Pujo, there are opportunities through the year to host festive dinners.

Buy more IPL teams: It’s hard to conceive of a manner in which the tournament could be further tarnished. With a couple of teams having been booted out, the round-robin pattern could run into problems unless more purchases are made. Chances are that viewership will decrease anyway. A good time to buy, one would say.

3.      Barkha Dutt

The two different faces of Barkha Dutt. Which one is more credible?

If you wish to see India’s high profile editors squabbling like kids, this is a must watch. Though she tried her best, Barkha didn’t manage to come out as an innocent victim of a conspiracy. She did manage to convey that while she loved her job of putting other people in a spot, she herself reacts badly when put in the spot by others.

Watch her interview on WikiLeaks Expose and you will be completely entertained with the contrast in emotional reaction and professional stance.

What do you say, will these leaks improve governance in the society?

2 comments on “High Drama Surrounds Information Leaks

  1. Dear Sonia,

    Hi!! I was away last week..according to me the leaks are sensational, though whether they will make any differencs to things is a moot point. People loved sensation and are easily carried away by such screming headlines..don’t You thin?


    • Sethuram,

      I think it will make a difference in the sense US will have to be more careful on what it is communicating. See Sarkozy’s comment on what India and France have in common. He stated that we speak only one language. He is obviously upset on the comment on being considered as an “emperor with no clothes.” A lot of egos are hurt, so diplomats are going to be in trouble. There is that old saying – “Diplomacy is the art of telling a person to go to hell, and having him willingly take the trip.” This appears to have been taken literally by some folks, and others as they find out will turn defensive and distrustful. Trust and integrity are basis for all relationships, erosion of it results in lot of negativty.


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