Edward Snowden, with his exposure of the demonic electronic-spying embryo operated by the United States and the United Kingdom that raised the most serious questions regarding privacy and freedom during our times, is going to become a name that history will remember for centuries. As this piece gets written, Snowden’s whereabouts are unknown and he is reported to have sought asylum in Ecuador. The way the United States and its allies are in his hunt would remind you of a Sidney Sheldon thriller; the way he is being demonized (as termed by eminent writer John Cassidy) by the United States Government and the capitalist-friendly media would make you wonder if Saddam or Laden was a better person!
America against America
Snowden, a former National Security Agency contract-systems administrator and ex-CIA operative had seen it all during his days. He was a man who knew the system from within and realized the dark sides which were kept secret from mankind, he was a man who had the guts to stand up to what he thought was right for him to do, what he thought was right for humanity, freedom and future. The exposure by a Snowden has resulted in nightmares to the western world and the only way to prevent him is by dirtying his image with words such as traitor, vested interested, communist and if possible terrorist too. De-legitimizing his conscious efforts is the need of the hour for United States to save its shame of the century and they are trying with no stone unturned efforts.
It is actually an irony that United States of America, who propagates its actions in the name (or cover?) of world peace, freedom of oppressed and for sake of humanity is now against its own citizen who actually tried to stand up for the people of the world. USA could enter the Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan in the name of fighting for humanity but when someone within themselves exposes the dirt at their own backyard, he is a traitor!
Snowden and Whistleblowers – it’s their history that affects the world geography
Yes, legally Snowden did break the law by exposing classified documents. However what he exposed clearly showed the level of privacy laws and human rights violation that his lawmakers were doing; and that to the world is more than law-breaking. If law-breaking means becoming a traitor, all leaders of the world, – Martin Luther King to Gandhi were lawbreakers once. But Alas! Typical to most whistleblowers around the world, Snowden’s life does not look bright at the moment.
The fates of most whistleblowers who have changed the nation or the world are dim at the moment. The world would remember about Bradley Birkenfeld, whose exposure of the $780 million banking fraud in the United States during 2007-08 had finally led himself to prison for 40 months (in spite of advocacy groups around the world rallying for him) and the list goes on. But it is the realization of their work and efforts in the future that changes the world. Four decades ago in the same USA, when Daniel Ellsberg along with Anthony Russo, exposed the Pentagon Papers, a secret account of the Vietnam War, he had not become a traitor to many. But this exposure had revealed prevalent practices of deception by previous US administrations and contributed to the erosion of public support for the war. Today his country as well the world remembers him as a hero. Everyone knows what Julian Assange of WikiLeaks is going through, but the next century would probably remember him as the man who changed the world forever. He is known to be the man behind the Tunisian revolution and the Arab Spring and by the time we shut our eyes forever, he might have caused several wonders or destructions.
An Edward Snowden in India
India too has its history of honest but ill-fated whistleblowers. Indeed, it was the revolutionary exposure by an honest Satyendra Dubey, who was assassinated in 2003 just after exposing the corruption within National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) that lead to the whistleblower act in the country. Same fate was for S. Manjunath of Indian Oil Corporation who was allegedly shot in 2007 for speaking against adulteration of petrol.
There are some who tried to change the system but could not,- such as Raju Narayana Swamy, IAS Officer and Commissioner of Civil Supplies Department, Kerala who was recently removed from trying to expose corruption. So is the well-known social and anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal, who was an IAS officer before devoting himself to the cause of fighting against corruption. In fact, he was one of the key men behind the enactment of the Right to Information Act, 2005 which now empowers even the poorest citizens of India to fight corruption by holding the government answerable to the people.
However, the fact remains that we still do not have a man like Julian Assange or Edward Snowden in India, who has seen the system from within and exposed it to the people such that a change can be made. There are top bureaucrats, IAS officers, CBI and every top post possible where high ranks are exposed to dark truths of corruption, malpractices, human rights violation and many more. Yet truth never unfolds. Whether it is the truth about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s death or the truth about secret killings in Assam, unmarked graves in Kashmir to the secret wealth of Indian politicians stashed in Swiss Banks; there are people who know the facts. Yet, they decide to remain loyal dogs to their own masters and truth remains locked up like demons in dark dungeons.
In Assam, there was whistleblower named Parag Kumar Das, an economist turned journalist who was one of such rare breed who tried to expose the truth from within the system and beyond. Unfortunately, he too was a victim of a state conspiracy whose truth still remains hidden.
Regarding Edward Snowden, John Cassidy has the following question to his readers; The Obama Administration has the courts, the intelligence services, Congress, the diplomatic service, much of the media, and most of the American public. Snowden’s got Greenwald, a man from WikiLeaks, and a dodgy travel document from Ecuador. Which side are you on?
We have started following or copying Americans in almost everything, – from clothes to music, food to lifestyle and many more. Can one Indian who holds the true answers can follow this fellow American called Edward Snowden and start a true meaningful revolution? Or shall we continue protesting with likes in Facebook, riots in streets and claps to politicians, – all for cooked stories and no truth?