A previous blog post of mine had opined that giving the Government too much power was dangerous – even in the interests of “National Security”. This is because any such power which is meant to be used only in extreme circumstances ends up being used in frivolous ways leading to a serious impingement on the proper constitutional procedures of law.
Image Credit: LU5H.bunny
At that time, I was referring to giving the Government the power to track people via the “National ID card“. Many people had lambasted the post saying that we need this sort of security and that there was no danger of the Government abusing it. For all those people, here’s a recent example of what I’m talking about.
Last year, parliament passed an IT amendment giving the Government far reaching powers to block any website that it chooses in the Interests of “National Security” or if it “Damages the relationships of India with a Foreign Power”. This was seen as a necessary step in the background of the Mumbai Terror attacks and the Government used this opportunity to pass the bill through at a time when people were willing to let the Government have this power to “keep them safe”.
But once it was passed, what is the outcome? The first website to be blocked was…hold your breath, a cartoon site! In case you’re wondering what was on it, the site featured an imaginary woman called Savitha Bhabhi (or Savita Bhabi) engaging in highly promiscuous and explicit sexual behavior. Not the most palatable website for a lot of Indians it is true, but one that is hardly a threat to the security of the nation or damaging India’s diplomatic ventures. Yet the Government blocked the site on the complaints of people because it had the power to do so and no one was seriously going to challenge it since porn is still highly taboo in Indian Society.
Tomorrow the Government can use the same law to block anything – say your own blog for example. A classic case of the abuse of Power. It’s not just the Indian Government I’m worried about, so don’t get me wrong. No government on earth can resist the temptation to use power whenever it can. History (both distant and recent) has shown this to us time and again.
So the smart thing to do is to not give it much. The government of a country must be kept on a tight leash. In India, the courts have traditionally been this leash, and predictably, the Government is not happy about it, but there’s not much it can do though it’s trying. Recently the Indian Law minister said that Parliament should have a say in the appointment of Judges – just one instance of the Government trying to reign in the Judiciary. But the Indian Courts are fiercely independent. I’m betting they’ll ensure that things don’t go wrong.
I hope this example of Savita Bhabi shows people in India the dangers of letting the Government control too much of other people’s lives – ultimately a time will come when it will want to control…everything.