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Articles

Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.

Articles

Pegasus Politics

Dt: 21/7/21

Pegasus Politics

Dr T H Chowdary*

 

The Lok Sabha and  Rajya Sabha could not transact any business on 19th and 20th July 2021. because the opposition parties  disrupted the sessions by the well-known practice of sloganeering,   shouting and  rushing into the  well of the presiding officer. Speaker in the  Lok Sabha and  Chairman in the Rajya Sabha. The issue was whether  government  has used  the Israel developed Pegasus malware to break into  the telephones of targeted  persons  in the opposition whether in Parliament or State Assembly or activists  of different  hues, engaged in disruptive activities against the interest of the nation and the Indian state. The fundamental issue to be considered is what is the use of technology if it cannot serve  the interest of persons, parties, businesses, activists and  hostile  states….  Information is the  greatest resource  in the armoury of any person engaged in any contest whether in peace or at war. Technology, especially Information and Communication Technologies (ICTS) are now extensively  being developed and used in almost every type of human activity – education, war, business, politics, activism,  intelligence  gatherings, spying, crime  control as well as committing  crime . Similarly  the IT tool Pegasus  is a powerful weapon  to gather information .  Information is the basis for any effective activity.

 

2. Politics is for gaining and retaining   power in a multi - party democracy as well as  in dictatorships. The party in power  or the opposition which wants to  pulled down the incumbent,  necessarily uses information for the purpose. Pulling down government  is a practice almost perfected by  the Indian National Congress especially when it was  headed by Indira Gandhi. In the  late 1950s as President of the  Congress Party she organized mass rallies to pull down the first ever communist government  in the country in the State of Kerala,  Sri Com EMS Namboodripal as Chief Minister. The methods she adopted were  traditional   -  huge peoples’ rallies,

 

denunciations, strikes, bandhs etc. She pulled down  the Janata government  in 1979 by splitting the Janata Dal. She extended Congress support from outside to Charan Singh to become the  Prime Minister. Within a few months she felled  out the Charan Singh government  by withdrawing  support   Rajiv Gandhi  helped Chandra Sekhar to split and pull  down the government  headed by V.P. Singh in 1992. After a few months Rajiv Gandhi withdrew his party’s support to Chandra  Sekhar  on the  flimsy ground that Chandra Sekhar  deployed  spies on him.  When the Congress staged a come back to power in the  elections in 1980 the Janata Dal Chief Minister Bhajanlal in Haryana overnight converted his party  wholesale into Congress party to escape dismissal and inquiries. Therefore in India it  has been very common for politicians to engineer splits and pull down governments and  grab power. They have to use money and every device that Chanakya advocated in his Artha Sastra in order to  detect  the  enemies’ conspiracies  and    overcome them.

3. Seeking , attaining and retaining power is a legitimate activity in democracy but over a period in our country it has become an activity without ethics and scruples. Every type  of  device  is used  to gather information and  use it  to achieve one’s ends. Retaining power is becoming more and more difficult.  New systems like  herding  supporters into five-star hotels  in  a city  of  favourable  administration is one of the  devices . Which  legislator is  hobnobbing with whom is to be gathered  and for that information  with whom he is talking and who is fishing for whom is to be known and it is here that breaking into the  telephone conversation and recording them has become  essential. Information about the dissidents or conspirators  illegal, immoral and fraudulent actions  can be obtained without any physical involvement but through the  deployment  of  IT tools like injecting malware into their smart telephones.

4. IT tools are being developed in  order to  wage wars and destroy the  enemies . Weaponization  of  software  and  militerisation of  space is an activity in which China,  America,  Israel, Korea and Iran are   extensively engaged. Israel, a tiny nation  of less than 10 mln people, with some congenitally inimical  population within the state and surrounded by a score of  nations states sworn to destroy it, is surviving by its   use  of  superior weapon, software. For eg: it thwarts the development of  nuclear weapons and missiles by disabling  the Uranium processing centrifuges remotely by injecting malware into their  control systems. It  has been able to  target individual  scientists by use of  its software for surveillance  and killing them.

5. India too is perforce having to weaponize software in order to  exfiltrate information not only from smart phones but even from the  IT networks and the websites and IT devices of  whichever individual or party it wants to   target. Almost every party which wants to  gain power will be  engaged in this  game. Therefore  the oppositions ruckus in the current session of Parliament regarding Pegasus is a farce. We can expect much more  extensive development and use of software in the  weeks and months to come especially by artful political hawkers and brokers like Prashant Kishore  . (846 words)

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