The Haziness of Transparency

internet surveillance

With substsantive politics,which has serious concern with the economy having been quietly shelved,and now being shaped by masters of global finance in the shadows, politics has steadily turned into a noisy theatre.A few decent politicians are still struggling against the current.But the pull of the current seems simply overwhelming.One is disquietened by shows like passionate protests verging on violence and copious shedding of tears,with bills being passed into laws at lightning speed.So,one wonders,what is one to make of high-flown terms such as ‘transparency’ and ‘happiness index’ and so on.

‘Transparency’ is apparently the desired manner in which governments run ideally.Little is thus left to confuse,doubt or speculate about the functioning of the government,as though it is some machine with humans like cogs,leaving little room for human agency.

What is actually at the bottom of it is a process of active participation of the people governed.It implies that any significant act of the government has the INFORMED consent of the people.That means active public consultation where there a few knowledgeable people might lead the debate but the people do not follow like tame sheep.It is disturbing that some such leading lights tend to pretend to monopoly of knowledge of matters in which the common people have very much of a stake.The rhetoric of sacred cows does not consult but dictates or guides under hypnotic media incantations and dazzle of money. Transparency is ruled out under such conditions. And really serious issues get thrown out the window like some rubbish.

Thus the legislatures have turned into resounding echo-chambers effecting little.It is some relief that the courts seem to be waking up from a trance,but still there is a lot of literalism of the law with natural justice getting short shrift.The principle of national security has real sense,but sometimes it seems to serve as cover for much that is sick and sickening,like the Protean plea for endless incarceration for inane unproveable charges that rob victims of decades of their life.

It is this context against which we are obliged to discuss the present rule of surveillance,with junior ministers of sundry departments denying any breach of constitution,and heavyweights either moonlighting or maintaining a dour silence.Is this the famous transparency?When only a few brief words from responsible quarters can settle the doubts,but entire sessions of parliament end in din with the Speaker shaking his head in sad and saddening pathos.

The farmers’ demands are simply not heard,with the government sticking to its own beguilingly benign interpretation of laws that appear menacing to lakhs of farmers,even when the whole world is appalled,and several hundred elderly and physically weak farmers succumbing to the rage of summer and winter.On the other hand one wonders if under a vast umbrella of surveillance which ostensibly cannot be countered, certain forces are watching for a chance during a momentary inattention or distraction to detonate the solid wall of human fortitude and tenacity.Transparency to the oppressors and an enveloping policy smog for the oppressed.The traditional devices of resistance and resolution in democracy seem to have been upended,and search for alternatives goes on in utter absence of light.Are terms like transparency losing their meaning,and a vast fog of lies is covering these signposts?

So we do not have the choice of waiting it out.The need is for urgent and energetic political search for a practical democratic resolution with sincere participation of ALL the people.

History, as I had remarked earlier, turns into a brutal natural force unless and until there is some genuine attempt to come to grips with it.Better people than me are engaged in it and perhaps we are not listening and spreading the message wider.

Hiren Gohain is a social scientist and literary critic


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