Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Two Countries, a World and an Agency With an Insatiable Thirst For Your Personal Data

(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)

In a world, where conflict rules, borders keep on changing, friendships are based on self-interest, there have been two countries whose destinies fate has entwined together. Two countries, who will one day embark on a journey, to once again change the world.

The relationship between the largest and the oldest democracies in the world has been like a rollercoaster, seeing many ups & downs. In the beginning, there was the initial spark, when both of them met at a party where they bonded over their love for multiculturalism as well as large movie making industries and their disdain for British colonialism as well as state sanctioned religion. They went home excited, thinking they were on the brink of a new and exciting chapter in their lives. However, fate had different plans! A misunderstanding ensued and both of them took alternate paths and found themselves on different sides of a majority of issues. Neither of them wanted to act on their feelings now and they buried whatever affection and fondness they had for each other deep inside their heart. And to get back at the one who hurt them the most, they tried to form a relationship with the other’s arch-nemesis. This went on for a few decades.

However, fate intervened and various interconnected events led to both countries finding themselves on the same side once again. Trying to work towards the same goals together made them realize how well they get along with one another. So their anger thawed and they were reminded again of the things they adored about each other. They decided to try to give their relationship another chance.

The next decade was their honeymoon period. Their love for one another seemed to grow every year. And they couldn’t keep their hands off each other! You found them conducting bilateral meetings while attending international conferences. Or sneaking away with their whole entourage during boring UN assembly sessions. They forgave each other for things that they would get mad at other countries for. They supported each other’s international adventures, even when other countries were against them. They never gave the other a hard time for their international follies like invading the wrong country or paying lip-service to democracy while supporting totalitarian regimes.

Yet, they again began to drift apart. Their work took them to different continents and they found themselves on opposite sides once more. They tried to preserve their relationship by deciding not to discuss things that they didn’t agree on whenever they tried having a conversation. However, as it always does, the resentment carried over. Both countries began to build a life that wouldn’t involve the other. Making new friends, holding summits without inviting their so called ‘most important strategic partner,’ trying to re-negotiate treaties that had already been settled, they began to fall back on old patterns of passive aggressiveness. They barely had time to conduct an awkward conversation when they saw each other at breakfast. America spent most of its time in the office and India got used to having dinner alone everyday, after spending days doing nothing but waiting and then falling asleep on the couch, absentmindedly watching some crap on teevee.

However, this relationship received a jolt of life recently when it was revealed that India is one of the top targets of the American surveillance state. “They care! They still care!” as one Indian government official put it, trying to hide his tears of happiness by pretending that he has a small pebble stuck in his eye.

Now before the privacy ayatollahs try to turn this revelation into something it’s not, don’t forget that America isn’t saying that it doesn’t trust India. It does! So much! With its life, even! But it doesn’t trust the other countries. So it’s hacking into our systems and stealing all our important information to keep it safe! It’s not America’s fault that our systems are so easy to get into. America was just trying a million different combinations as a goof and ended up extracting information from every computer in the country, as a gag. We shouldn’t use a password which is so easy to figure out!

Let’s face it. The surveillance state isn’t going anywhere. No political party with a serious shot at coming to power in any country is going to oppose it. Even Canada – Canada! – is getting into the whole ‘keep track of what other people are doing’ game. Finding out that Canada is spying on other countries is like finding out that the cool hippie uncle whom every child in the family idolizes is a paedophile.

So don’t get upset that America wants to know everything we do, everyone we talk to and where we are at any given moment. Some may call it extreme possessiveness, but as hindi movies teach us, isn’t that just the purest form of love? Their actions are driven by fondness! For example, one of the NSA programs that surreptitiously collects all our information is called ‘Boundless Informant.’  You see? Just like the data that they can access, their love for us knows no bounds.

India and America totally complete each other. One of them is a country starved for attention. The other is obsessed with keeping track of everything every person in the world is doing.

That is a match made in romantic comedy heaven.

1 comment:

Cobra Condor said...

Canada-the hippie uncle/ paedo? Terrible and tasteless analogy, dude.