AFER MINISTRY OF DEFENCE WEBSITE HACKED, SOME OTHER CENTRAL MINISTRIES WEBSITES DOWN

After website of the Ministry of Defence was hacked, websites of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Labour are also down now.

The MHA site is off-line while the sites of Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Law and Department of Legal Affairs, MoL&J, GoI have gone through some unexpected error.

The hacked Ministry of Defence website was earlier showing certain letters saying the website encountered an unexpected error and please try again later.

Now the site has also been taken down as restoration work is going down on it. And the similar experiences with MHA, Law Ministry and MoL says they might also have faced such problems.

The hacked website has a Chinese Zen character on top of it that says some Chinese hackers may be behind it as the relations between both countries have been quite high tense in recent days. Zen means rigorous self-control, meditation and insights into personal nature and it might be a warning for India, as most of the Chinese thinkers (hackers here) keep on doing.

On MoD hacking, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says action has been initiated to trace down the cause and the website will be restored shortly. She has also assured of steps taken to prevent such an eventuality in future.

Nirmala Sitharaman‏ @nsitharaman
Action is initiated after the hacking of MoD website ( http://mod.nic.in ). The website shall be restored shortly. Needless to say, every possible step required to prevent any such eventuality in the future will be taken. @DefenceMinIndia @PIB_India @PIBHindi

A detailed response from the Government of India is yet to come.




The government websites are continuously hacked in India but when it happens with important ministries like the Ministry of Defence, it is worrisome.

Between April 2017 and March 2018, over 22,000 websites were hacked in India and they included 114 government portals, data from the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) says. The information was given by the Minister of State for Electronics and IT K.J. Alphons in the Lok Sabha.

The National Informatics Centre (NIC) data also reveals that total 74 websites including six government websites hosted on NICNET were hacked in 2017 and till February 2018.

Before that, the Lok Sabha was informed in February 2017 that over 700 websites of central ministries and departments were hacked between 2013 and 2016.

©SantoshChaubey

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MINISTRY OF DEFENCE WEBSITE HACKED, MINISTER SAYS ACTION HAS BEEN INITIATED

The Ministry of Defence website has been hacked. On opening the website, only certain letters can be seen which say “the website encountered an unexpected error and please try again later.

The hacked website has a Chinese Zen character on top of it that says some Chinese hackers may be behind it as the relations between both countries have been quite high tense in recent days. Zen means rigorous self-control, meditation and insights into personal nature and it might be a warning for India, as most of the Chinese thinkers (hackers here) keep on doing.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says action has been initiated to trace down the cause and the website will be restated shortly. She has also assured of steps to be taken to prevent ny such eventuality in future.

Nirmala Sitharaman‏ @nsitharaman
Action is initiated after the hacking of MoD website ( http://mod.nic.in ). The website shall be restored shortly. Needless to say, every possible step required to prevent any such eventuality in the future will be taken. @DefenceMinIndia @PIB_India @PIBHindi

https://mod.gov.in/
Ministry of Defence
रक्षा मंत्रालय
Error
The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.

The government websites are continuously hacked in India but when it happens with important ministries like the Ministry of Defence, it is worrisome.

Between April 2017 and March 2018, over 22,000 websites were hacked in India and they included 114 government portals, data from the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) says. The information was given by the Minister of State for Electronics and IT K.J. Alphons in the Lok Sabha.

The National Informatics Centre (NIC) data also reveals that total 74 websites including six government websites hosted on NICNET were hacked in 2017 and till February 2018.

Before that, the Lok Sabha was informed in February 2017 that over 700 websites of central ministries and departments were hacked between 2013 and 2016.

©SantoshChaubey

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE WEBSITE HACKED

The Ministry of Defence website has been hacked. On opening the website, only certain letters can be seen which say “the website encountered an unexpected error and please try again later.

The hacked website has a Chinese Zen character on top of it that says some Chinese hackers may be behind it as the relations between both countries have been quite high tense in recent days. Zen means rigorous self-control, meditation and insights into personal nature and it might be a warning for India, as most of the Chinese thinkers (hackers here) keep on doing.

https://mod.gov.in/
Ministry of Defence
रक्षा मंत्रालय
Error
The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.

The government websites are continuously hacked in India but when it happens with important ministries like the Ministry of Defence, it is worrisome.

Between April 2017 and March 2018, over 22,000 websites were hacked in India and they included 114 government portals, data from the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) says. The information was given by the Minister of State for Electronics and IT K.J. Alphons in the Lok Sabha.

The National Informatics Centre (NIC) data also reveals that total 74 websites including six government websites hosted on NICNET were hacked in 2017 and till February 2018.

Before that, the Lok Sabha was informed in February 2017 that over 700 websites of central ministries and departments were hacked between 2013 and 2016.

©SantoshChaubey

DEALING WITH FAKE NEWS: HOW COUNTRIES ARE MOVING?

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention, the Information & Broadcasting Ministry has withdrawn the proposed guidelines on fake news and accreditation of journalists. The ministry had proposed new rules yesterday that saw massive outrage.

The proposed move sought to put in place provisions to suspend journalists even mere on the complaints of a fake news and the irony was, the journalists had to remain so till any conclusion of the news alleged to be fake. And a third time publication of fake news invited permanent cancellation of accreditation as well. The bill certainly contained provisions against journalists that could have been misused.

But if we go by the facts, we know that accredited journalists and mainstream media institutions are not at core of fake news prevalence but it is largely driven by tech giants like Facebook, Google, their associated networks and other such sites. The new rules never talked about it and about the non-journalists who really spin and twist news items on these platforms that have raised many international controversies like spread of fake news in the US presidential election or France’s allegations that Russia tried to affect the French elections through internet last year.

The threat has been so critical that many countries have started making laws against fake news and the collaborators behind them, especially after the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica leakage controversy in the US presidential polls that has set the world on storm.

GERMANY: Germany enacted a law last year for social media outfits that asks them to remove fake news from their platforms within 24 hours. A delay is fined with upto $61.5m.

IRELAND: In December, the country introduced a bill to handled fake news. The Online Advertising and Social Media (Transparency) Bill 2017 is aimed at ensuring integrity of online media and targets the prevailing undemocratic practices happening there.

UNITED KINGDOM: UK is planning to treat entities like Facebook and Google as publishers and not just as information sources so that the regulations around them can be tightened. Though UK still has no specific law to deal with fake news, its Prime Minister Theresa May has warned the biggies of the social media to face fines if they fail and a legal solution may well be in offing.

FRANCE: On January 3 this year, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he was going to introduce a new law to curb fake news through social media content as much of it was affecting the flow of societies and democracies. His pre-election campaign was also largely affected by it.

ITALY: Italy is running programmes to make its citizens aware of conspiracy theories and fake news online. The same has also part of the high-school curriculum in the country. And the country is taking help of sites like Facebook as well in this effort.

EUROPEAN COUNCIL: The Cambridge Analytica led Facebook controversy has forced the European Council to take precautionary measures. Warning that issues like profile leaks from Facebook can ‘subvert our democratic systems’ and the election to the European elections can really be a target of a massive Eurosceptic disinformation run, the council is working on to legislate a law.

UNITED STATES: Fake news has been made a globally known term by US President Donald Trump as he terms most of controversial coverage about him in US media as fake news. And this time around also, the country is in the middle of the storm with the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica controversy.

The US Congress has summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for clarification and as the US, for long, has dealt with the phenomenon, with provisions of its Federal Communication Commission for fake news on television and radio broadcasts, the related social media releases may soon be defined as well if they indeed cause much public harm.

INDONESIA: In January, Indonesia launched a cyber security agency to aim religious extremism and fake news on online platforms. The country took the step as more than half of its population is now internet users and the government needed a measure to ensure cyber security.

MALAYSIA: Yesterday, Malaysia’s parliament passed a law to deal with fake news. The bill though criticised by many has a fine of $128,000 and prison term of upto six years. It covers digital publications and social media outfits and targets collaborators who use wholly or partly false data to publish stories.

MALAYSIA: Malaysia’s parliament on April 2 passed a law prohibiting fake news that critics fear will be abused to silence dissent ahead of a general election. Despite warnings such a law would lead Malaysia closer to dictatorship, the bill was approved 123 to 64 after a heated debate. The bill originally proposed a 10-year jail term and a fine of up to 500,000 ringgit ($128,000) for offenders, but the approved legislation sets the maximum prison sentence at six years.

SINGAPORE: Singapore conducted a survey where more than 90% of its residents opinionated for stronger laws to tackle fake news and the country is expected to come up with the one soon, in 2018, as informed by K Shanmugam, its Law Minister. Singapore is a country of high internet density and its people are from various races and religions, so the country needs a stronger law even more, Mr Shanmugam said.

Now, let’s see what India really does on this fake news spread where a guideline to control accredited journalists and mainstream media cannot really work.

©SantoshChaubey

MEET THE INDIAN-AMERICAN AT CENTRE OF US MOVE TO REPEAL NET NEUTRALITY RULES

The article originally appeared on India Today on 15 December.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the telecom regulator of the United States of America, has repealed a landmark law the country passed in 2015 to ensure net neutrality in the US and Ajit Pai, a son of immigrant Indians, is at the centre of the debate. He heads the US FCC.

Pai is a Republican, the same party as American President Donald J Trump, and was made the FCC chief in January 2017, the same month the Trump administration took over the White House.

The FCC, the US equivalent of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has voted in favour of repealing a 2015 law enacted by itself under the Barack Obama government. The FCC is overseen by the US Congressional chairs and currently, like the US Congress (the American equivalent of Parliament), the Republicans are in majority in the FCC, a fact that helped the proposal moved by Pai score a 3-2 victory. Incidentally, Ajit Pai was appointed a commissioner in the FCC in 2012 by then president Barack Obama.

The move by Pai, whose FCC bio states that “consumers benefit most from competition, not pre-emptive regulation and regulators should be skeptical (sic) of pleas to regulate rivals”, has sharply divided America with critics saying repealing the net neutrality law will kill the spirit of free internet.

Critics argue that the repeal plan will benefit only few big telecom players who wield immense power over the flow of internet and telecommunication channels. Opponents of the repeal bill, named Restoring Internet Freedom Order, say it will effectively shut down or marginalise small players and will start a rush of predatory discriminating practices where one telecom company will try all to disadvantage a rival company’s data flowing through its cables.

And above all, internet users will be the ultimate losers with their freedom to get unrestrained access to all content and data gone, the critics add. Net neutrality, they say, ensures that no service provider will speed up or throttle a particular service because of its business interests.

IN INDIA

India has also been through this important debate. The country saw a major controversy over services such as Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero plans. These differential pricing plans were alleged to be discriminatory in nature as they would have given preferential treatment to content and data of a particiular telecom company or internet service provider (ISP).

Citizens here were up in arms over this and a public outcry forced the government and the TRAI to initiate consultations on building a framework to ensure net neutrality in the Indian market. And, its outcome has been positive so far with TRAI vouching to uphold the principles of net neutrality in recommendations it released last month.

Ajit Pai’s move is threatening to undo that in America, the world’s largest free market for the internet. Pai’s move has also unnerved the internet’s founding fathers Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf and many other internet pioneers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker.

They wrote an open letter to US Congress calling on it to cancel the proposed vote yesterday. They called the repeal plan flawed and an imminent threat to the internet.

But Pai was unnerved. He tweeted this morning to let the world know that there would be no change in his plans, “U.S. @SenateMajLdr supports @FCC plan to restore Internet freedom, saying our Internet economy is the “direct result of a bipartisan desire to create an environment of advancement-one that utilized a light regulatory touch.”

Ajit Pai’s parents were doctors. His mother was from Karnataka and father from Andhra Pradesh. They migrated to America where Pai was born in 1973 in Buffalo, New York.

A graduate from Harvard and University of Chicago Law School, Pai’s law career includes assignments mostly with the US judicial services and the US Congress in difference capacities as well as stints with private corporations like Verizon Jenner & Block.

©SantoshChaubey

AJIT PAI, SON OF IMMIGRANT INDIANS, IS AT THE CENTRE OF US NET NEUTRALITY DEBATE

Ajit Pai, son of immigrant Indians, is at the centre of the raging net neutrality debate in the United States. He heads the US body which regulates the internet in America, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He is a Republican and was made the FCC chief in January 2017, the same month the Trump Government was inaugurated in the White House.

The FCC, the US equivalent of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), is bringing a proposal to repeal a 2015 law enacted by it under the Barack Obama Government. The FCC is overseen by US Congressional chairs. The repeal plan is slated for voting today and analysts have projected that it would be approved. Incidentally, Ajit Pai was appointed a commissioner in the FCC in 2012 by Barack Obama only.

The move by Pai, whose FCC bio* states that “consumers benefit most from competition, not pre-emptive regulation and regulators should be skeptical of pleas to regulate rivals”, has sharply divided America with critics saying it will kill the spirit of free internet. Critics argue that the repeal plan will benefit only few big telecom players who wield immense power over the flow of internet and telecommunication channels. The repeal bill, Restoring Internet Freedom Order, will effectively shut down or marginalize small players and will start a rush of predatory discriminating practices where one telecom company will try all to discredit its rival company’s data flowing through its cables.

And above all, the people will be the ultimate losers with their freedom to get unrestrained access to every content and data gone, something that is at the heart of net neutrality which aims to ensure level playing field for every content, every data flowing through communication channels, be it by the world’s largest service provide or a start-up.

India has also been through this important debate. We should not forget the controversy generated by moves like Facebook’s Free Basics and Airtel Zero plans. These differential pricing plans were discriminatory in nature as they would have given preferential treatment to content and data of one telecom company or internet service provider (ISP) over the other. People were naturally outraged at this and their mobilization forced the government and the TRAI to initiate consultations to build a framework to ensure net neutrality in the Indian market. And its outcome has been positive so far with TRAI vouching to uphold the principal of net neutrality in India in its final recommendations on the issue that came out last month.

But Ajit Pai’s may undo all that in America, the world’s largest free market for the internet, and a sort of role-model for the world. And Pai’s move is supported by a lobby of few powerful companies including Verizon, one of America’s biggest telecom services providers and Pai’s former employer, as many media reports* suggest. A Guardian report* writes that Pai is adamant to move ahead with his repeal plan in spite of “members of the public across the political spectrum, be it Democrats or Republicans, supporting the net neutrality rules as revealed in the many polls*.”

Pai’s move has also unnerved the Internet’s founding fathers* Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf and many other internet pioneers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker. They have written an open letter to the US Congress calling on it to cancel the proposed vote today calling Pai’s repeal plan flawed and an imminent threat to the Internet. But Pai, too, is unnerved. He tweeted this morning to let the world know that there would be no change in his plans, “U.S. @SenateMajLdr supports @FCC plan to restore Internet freedom, saying our Internet economy is the “direct result of a bipartisan desire to create an environment of advancement–one that utilized a light regulatory touch.”

Ajit Pai’s parents were doctors. His mother was from Karnataka and father from Andhra Pradesh. They migrated to America where Pai was born in 1973 in Buffalo, New York. A graduate from Harvard and University of Chicago Law School, Pai’s law career includes assignments mostly with the US judicial services and the US Congress in difference capacities as well as stints with private corporations like Verizon Jenner & Block.

©SantoshChaubey

INTERNET’S FOUNDING FATHERS CALL ON US CONGRESS TO SAVE INTERNET FROM TRUMP’S MAN

The article originally appeared on India Today.

Tim Berners-Lee and Vinton Cerf, the founding fathers of the Internet, have written to the US Congress to save the Internet from the disastrous consequences of a proposed repeal of a Barack Obama era law on net neutrality that ensured level playing field for all content and every sort of data by ensuring stiff regulations for the Internet service providers (ISPs).

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under the Barack Obama presidency, had adopted the net neutrality rules in February 2015 and enacted it in a law in June that year. The law gave the US government sweeping power over the network providers to check the discriminatory practices with the content flowing through their channels.

Here, in India, we are going through the grinding of that process and thankfully, after over a year of consultation papers, public comments and meetings, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) last month decided to uphold the supremacy of net neutrality in India.

Now Ajit Pai, son of Indian immigrants and a Republican, who was made the FCC chief by US President Donald Trump in January 2017, is bringing a repeal proposal to that landmark law which is scheduled for voting on December 14.

But the reports that the proposed repeal plan is expected to be approved have worried the proponents of a free internet accessible for all, and the letter by the founding fathers of the Internet reflects that sentiment.

The letter addressed to the Democratic and Republican chairs that control the FCC says that “the FCC’s proposed order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology” terming the proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Order an imminent threat to the Internet, “The FCC’s rushed and technically incorrect proposed order to repeal net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped.”

The letter has urged to US lawmakers to cancel the proposed vote. The open letter that is signed by 19 other internet pioneers including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker and Internet Achieves founder Brewster Kahle, alleges the FCC headed by Pai is acting in haste ignoring exerts’ comments, over 23 million pro net neutrality comments by public and against the established practice, has not held even a single public meeting to discuss its proposed repeal order.

The open letter also alleges that the FCC didn’t bother to investigate and explain to people the flaws of its online comment system “including bot-generated comments that impersonated Americans, including dead people, and an unexplained outage of the FCC’s on-line comment system that occurred at the very moment TV host John Oliver was encouraging Americans to submit comments to the system.”

BELOW IS THE TEXT OF THE OPEN LETTER SIGNED BY THE INTERNET’S FOUNDING FATHERS AND PIONEERS:

We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. We are writing to respectfully urge you to call on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to cancel the December 14 vote on the FCC’s proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Order (WC Docket No. 17-108 ).

This proposed Order would repeal key network neutrality protections that prevent Internet access providers from blocking content, websites and applications, slowing or speeding up services or classes of service, and charging online services for access or fast lanes to Internet access providers’ customers. The proposed Order would also repeal oversight over other unreasonable discrimination and unreasonable practices, and over interconnection with last-mile Internet access providers. The proposed Order removes long-standing FCC oversight over Internet access providers without an adequate replacement to protect consumers, free markets and online innovation.

It is important to understand that the FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017. Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order dismantles 15 years of targeted oversight from both Republican and Democratic FCC chairs, who understood the threats that Internet access providers could pose to open markets on the Internet.

The experts’ comment was not the only one the FCC ignored. Over 23 million comments have been submitted by a public that is clearly passionate about protecting the Internet. The FCC could not possibly have considered these adequately.

Indeed, breaking with established practice, the FCC has not held a single open public meeting to hear from citizens and experts about the proposed Order.

Furthermore, the FCC’s online comment system has been plagued by major problems that the FCC has not had time to investigate. These include bot-generated comments that impersonated Americans, including dead people, and an unexplained outage of the FCC’s on-line comment system that occurred at the very moment TV host John Oliver was encouraging Americans to submit comments to the system.

Compounding our concern, the FCC has failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about these incidents and failed to provide information to a New York State Attorney General’s investigation of them. We therefore call on you to urge FCC Chairman Pai to cancel the FCC’s vote. The FCC’s rushed and technically incorrect proposed Order to abolish net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped.

Signed,

Frederick J. Baker, IETF Chair 1996-2001, ISOC Board Chair 2002-2006
Mitchell Baker, Executive Chairwoman, Mozilla Foundation
Steven M. Bellovin, Internet pioneer, FTC Chief Technologist, 2012-2013
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web & professor, MIT
John Borthwick, CEO, Betaworks
Scott O. Bradner, Internet pioneer
Vinton G. Cerf, Internet pioneer
Stephen D. Crocker, Internet pioneer
Whitfield Diffie, inventor of public-key cryptography
David J. Farber, Internet pioneer, FCC Chief Technologist 1999-2000
Dewayne Hendricks, CEO Tetherless Access
Martin E. Hellman, Internet security pioneer
Brewster Kahle, Internet pioneer, founder, Internet Archive
Susan Landau, cybersecurity expert & professor, Tufts University
Theodor Holm Nelson, hypertext pioneer
David P. Reed, Internet pioneer
Jennifer Rexford, Chair of Computer Science, Princeton University
Ronald L. Rivest, co-inventor of RSA public-key encryption algorithm
Paul Vixie, Internet pioneer
Stephen Wolff, Internet pioneer
Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple Computer

©SantoshChaubey

UNGA: PAKISTANI PROPAGANDA HAS A TOUGH JOB THESE DAYS

The article originally appeared on India Today.

The 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly is in progress in New York and the Pakistani delegation here has some tough job on its hand to do, obviously including the routine anti-India propaganda.

So the prime minister of Pakistan is busy spewing venom against India in New York where he is leading his country’s delegation to the UNGA while ministers and senior officials of his government back home in Islamabad are complementing his efforts.

And their efforts are based on negating two highly hostile perceptions about Pakistan, especially with the Donald Trump presidency in America – one, that it is a safe terror haven and the other, that trusting Pakistan in Afghanistan affairs have been counter-productive and it is better to go with India.

So, Pakistan’s prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is busy telling the world community and more importantly to the US that how India is an existential threat for Pakistan and it is rather a terror victim with an impressive track record in fighting and eliminating terrorists and the US declaring it a safe haven for terrorists is unjustified, even if he wasn’t given a chance to have one-on-one meeting with Donald Trump.

The fact is, Trump has not met a Pakistani prime minister, be it Abbasi or his predecessor Nawaz Sharif, so far in his presidency and it is a telling sign that Pakistan has lost its credibility in Washington.

Like Nawaz Sharif was humiliated at the US-Arab-Islamic Summit in Riyadh in May this year, Donald Trump’s first major interaction with the Muslim nations of the world, this time, too, the Pakistani prime minister met the same fate. Reportedly, Trump refused to meet Abbasi as ‘he was too busy’.

Abbasi then had to settle down on a meeting with US Vice-President Mike Pence where, as per Pakistani claims, the two sides agreed to remain engaged “to achieve shared objectives of peace, stability and economic prosperity in the region.” Also, Abbasi told yesterday, in another boastful claim, that Trump thought positively on Pakistan’s role in the war against terror, refuting claims of downward spiral in US-Pakistan ties.

While the truth is, the US is disappointed and angry over Pakistan’s double-dealings, the country that has been a major recipient of US financial aid, over $15 billion in just last five years. While unveiling his government’s Afghanistan centric South Asia policy last month, Trump had slammed Pakistan and had warned that the US would no longer be silent about Pakistan’s double-dealings and had demanded that Pakistan’s attitude of doublespeak had to change immediately.

Abbasi, reportedly, also complained to the US, in fact, in his meeting with Mike Pence about US policy change on Afghanistan which seeks greater Indian role in Afghanistan rebuilding process, something that Pakistan believes is hostile to its interests in the region. And today, he went on to say that Pakistan sees ‘zero role for India in Afghanistan and will never accept India politically or militarily engaged in Afghanistan’.

Repeating Pakistan’s rant on Kashmir, an integral part of India where Pakistan is fuelling terror and separatism, that India is suppressing the freedom struggle of the Kashmiris, Abbasi, after a long time, again took the line that Pakistan has developed tactical nuclear weapons to take on the Indian threat. Pakistan had left the practice of issuing hollow nuclear threats to India after the surgical strike last September in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir that left Pakistan’s ruling elite humiliated and divided.

Back in Pakistan, its ministers and officers are busy extending helping hands to their prime minister.

Its Foreign Office is repeating the routine Pakistani propaganda that “India is involved in funding terrorism in Pakistan” with a new vigour. Apart from blaming India for fomenting terror in its provinces including the restive Balochistan province, Pakistan is also blaming India to fund the anti-Pakistan campaign by Baloch activists in Geneva while the reality is the world community has now started accepting Pakistan’s atrocities in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.

The country is also taking on other countries like Japan that endorse the Indian viewpoint that Pakistan is a terror sponsor nation. The Indo-Japan joint statement last week during Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s India visit had denounced Pakistan as a country harbouring terrorists.

Yesterday, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan accused India of trying to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $50 Billion Chinese investment that passes through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, legally an Indian territory. The same minister had last week boasted that it was not Pakistan’s job to satisfy the US. And only a week later, the Pakistani prime minister is trying to woo the US administration in the US.

©SantoshChaubey

RIGHTIST, LEFTIST OR CENTRIST, YOU MUST FEEL OUTRAGED OVER GAURI LANKESH’S MURDER

A democracy can survive and emerge stronger only if it learns to get along with differing ideologies in a symbiotic relationship where ideologies, too, understand the importance of coexistence, be it rightist, leftist or centrist or so on. That brings accountability in a system driven by people while a continued streak of an ideology and its dominance, on the other hand, is detrimental for a democratic set-up.

And that is why everyone must come forward to denounce the dastardly act of gruesome killing of Gauri Lankesh, a senior journalist who epitomized what journalism was conceived as and what it means – a pillar of democracy and thus our societies.

Journalism is meant to give voice to the millions of silent majority in a country like India; journalism is expected to be an effective check in the wheels of development in a democratic society like ours; and journalism is designed to be a tool to spread not just information but also ideas in a developing economic like ours where the majority is still quality illiterate and under developed.

So, a journalist can be a news gatherer, an information disseminator, an activist or a crusader. It all depends on interplay of circumstances and yes, personal choices. And the ideological environment that he or she dwells in plays a central role in this shaping up of role (and opinion).

Gauri Lankesh, who never accepted government advertisements for her eponymous periodical to maintain her independence, was a fearless journalist who would speak her mind, right or wrong we may go on debating. But she was busy doing the kind of journalism that journalism expected her to do….something that we can say cause based journalism…irrespective of her personal inclinations.

If she was killed for that, we should see this as an ominous sign for the health of our democracy, the signs that have been here for long – with killing of journalists, rationalists, activists and whistleblowers like Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi Satyendra Dubey and S Manjunath and so on. The list is long.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 27 journalists have been killed in India in the line of duty in last 25 years. Half of them were working on corruption stories. And no one has been convicted in any of these killings.

The annual report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is even more disturbing. It presents more comprehensive data according to which between 1990 to 2016, 101 journalists and mediapersons were killed in India. Globally, 122 journalists were killed in 2016 including five in India. In 2017 so far, 25 journalists have been killed including Gauri Lankesh in India.

And the conviction rate has been nil or abysmally low, organizations like the Press Council of India and the Press Freedom have said in their detailed reports. The Press Council of India, in fact, has demanded that the government should enact a new law to ensure safety of journalists.

Yes, we have a robustly functional democracy that is surviving well for the past seven decades but it has its own inherent flaws that have put shackles in its stride to become a stronger, mature and model democracy like America, most of the European countries and other western nations are.

They could travel to achieve so much because they learnt to develop an ecosystem where different ideologies coexisted and thrived, something where we have been failing. And Gauri Lankesh’s murder, like every other such case, reminds us again that we are still suspended in that mode.

Being a rightist or a leftist or centrist is not an issue. Every ideology has its good and bad elements and followers. The question is of balance and interplay of ideologies in a democratic set-up that ensures accountability in every level of administration and governance.

The countries that progressed to become model democratic states saw healthy development of economy and society because ideologies respected each other when it came to change of guard. Something that in turn ensured accountability and thus their growth and development, minimizing democratic flaws and autocratic features like corruption, nepotism, one-party rule, opaque systems, administrative apathy and so on.

©SantoshChaubey

WHERE WAS CHINESE STATE MEDIA’S FUSS THIS WEEKEND?

The weekend passed without any fuss this time. The Chinese state media didn’t come with any editorial warning India of war or disastrous consequences, be it People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party (CPC), or its hawkish tabloid Global Times or China’s state-run news agency Xinhua.

Let’s begin with Global Times, the sister publication of People’s Daily that has been the front of the Chinese state media pushing for an India-China war (scenario?) ever since the border standoff between the two countries on the Doklam Plateau began around mid-June.

The only editorial with harsh war rhetoric available on the opinion section of its website is from August 7. Titled ‘India misjudges China’s hope for peace’, it mocks India for miscalculated assessment of Chinese ‘silence’ and then throws the routine, i.e., ‘countermeasures from China will be unavoidable’.

The pattern of all other editorials, especially during the weekend, have been back to viewpoints like the developments around the South China Sea dispute, or the Sino-US trade row or even the Sino-India trade war but the hawkish tone of military war has taken a leave it seems. Now whether it is temporary or the Chinese propaganda machinery will be back to its virtual war with India only time will tell.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey