Influencers exist in various form since time immemorial communicating with the masses (or governments), overtly or covertly, to build, destroy, change or mould minds.
They have been known by many names – lobbyists, spin doctors, propagandists, PR professionals, spokespersons etc., and not to forget the terrorist recruiter or the religious bigots. Every influencer has one common trait in their communication – subterfuge, obfuscation, double meanings, and some (or complete) lies. And the is common too – make the listener (or reader) believe you completely; change his/her thinking – zombify.
The message is always subtle, and persistent… designed to eat into your psyche, slowly poisoning your thinking to become aligned to that being propagated.
This is war, in it’s new avatar currently in an advanced stage on India. The termites of influence (influencermites) have been playing havoc with the mental fabric of the nation silently over the past decade and more. The extent of rot is seen time and again, in the decisions made by government and the noises of support, praise, or opposition that follow.
I want to highlight two recent instances – one private (deep throat type) and one public:
A deep throat confidante shared the information that at a meeting of high high ranking persons in the national security domain stood up against the induction of Make in India Cyber Security products and that they have decided to oppose indigenous purchase preference!
This happened recently (just a couple of weeks earlier).
Another deep throat disclosure was about this respected Indian company that made a secure messenger ON REQUEST from a ministry. When the product was presented they were rudely told off by some private foreign consultancy folks who were present as advisers in the national security hush hush meeting. They were insultingly told not to reinvent the wheel when WhatsApp is available.
This, ladies and gentlemen is what an information war is all about. Let’s keep laser missiles and precision bombing in the closet for sometime.
Sabres are not supposed to rattle any more – that’s the stuff for kids.
By the time you know, Russia or Rwanda may be pulling the strings on US policy or Brexit, with no one any wiser. The same media machine which has built the image of Russia as the great enemy of the West may be spreading messages of love with them in 10 or 20 years.
My second instance waiting to be highlighted is in public domain – the highly discussed issues of privacy and data localization.
Pandora, move over! Your box has been influencermited and replaced by a virtual one which doesn’t have hope.
Google, Facebook, Whatsapp jumped up and said why us! We are firangi and our kings, queens, estates and laws are not desi – In God We Trust, whereas you want Satyamev Jayatey, and that does not fit our philosophy.
We cannot localize, and instead, you have to firangize your expectations and laws. And for the first time I saw media reports talking about these companies lobbying with the government. At that time I wondered how can they lobby when we do not have the concept of official lobbying like in the USA, but seems I have still a lot to learn.
The influencermites have eaten into institutions like नास कौम (NAAS KAUM) and IAMAI. Oh yes IT Goliath WIPRO also is squeaking support for firangization instead of localization.
Then I went around talking to a few people among my friends and foes in various whatsapp groups. The shock of my life I receive when I find that there are many who believe in the foreign stand on localization and seek to trash the government stand.
A few sane friends like (Prof) Dr Triveni Singh, IPS, Prashant Mali, Sanjay ji from CBI, Ritesh Bhatia did help keep my heart from skipping beats and my palpitations are in check.
Many fought against the very idea of localization presenting reasons like surveillance, increased cost of services ?, lack of world class infrastructure, hurting the world order… All the while stressing upon their nationalism and that their stand is for national good.
Now I want to debunk the doomsday theories that have ben put forward by these opponents (forgive my Indian brethren as they are victims of influencermites)
1. Will result in increase in cost for everyone: What cost are they talking about. Operational cost will be passed on to the users.
2. Cost of hosting will increase for small business… Localization demand is made primarily for the banking and payment services. Hosting is available in India too as all cloud providers have set up facilities. In any case this is pure BS considering the constantly decrease in cost of storage. (1 TB for Rs 5k)
3. Protectionism will follow and services will be restricted, the Indian user will suffer: WTH let us never ever think protectionism is not in place. Try to buy some software and the vendor wants an end user declaration. Forget software, I wanted to buy a chin strap for my ventilator machine and they said they cannot export without a prescription. Maybe the firangi and their vassals have a different meaning for protectionism.
4. Balkanisation: Hahha this was a new one which I heard in a conference recently. Only the daft is fooled thinking the internet is open and free and not balkanized. The most free country of the world has the most walls – its just that we need eyes outside the eyes!
My simple question is – WHY??
Why does a US company or any foreign company need a special set of regulations or law for doing business in the country. There are thousands of (different types) banks and the payment business these guys are going to provide is NO DIFFERENT. They will also piggyback and use NPCI and RBI infrastructure for transactions so what is it that they are bringing to the country that they can qualify for special treatment.
Not so far back in time, the East India Company came and “helped” some kings, then “suggested and lobbied for making laws that were modern” … The locusts had to come in person to eat into the national fabric.
Then a bit closer in time there was Enron which had perfected the art of creating / moulding laws as per their comfort.
How are things different today in India ? These billion dollar behemoths and their believers are talking the same language -change the law to suit me.
What next ? Maybe someone will ask for a say in the monetary policy, or tariff. Or maybe nominate Bill Gates to the Rajya Sabha and in time Sundar Pichai for President (he is Indian and they say he cannot think bad for the country).
The overt and covert influencermites have reached a point where one part of government is opposing Make in India, another leans on foreign Indians to stifle Indian initiatives and then our friends from the land of the free want a hand in our law making so as to achieve their own comfort (and their government too).
I call if a day here with a poser for all the companies and their supporters of this anti national noise – have u done any study to support or substantiate your claims of cost etc. Personally, I must admit my answer was no, when asked about ! Normally, I don’t undertake any intellectual study and as I am a common sense person and shoot from the hip (and am usually on the mark)… However maybe u guys should do a study.
Seeing the rot that is already set in the system, I am sure i will be revisiting this subject pretty soon and look forward to calling out some more misguided souls.
Here are some very pertinent questions put out by Rahul Sharma and if you can find your answers to them, you can justify your opinion!
- What will happen if DL in current form is implemented… Can somebody paint a picture on how’s that going to turn out?
- All Data Fiduciaries…. that means over a billion services available over Internet to Indians are required to store a serving copy.
- What is the amount of capacity required?
- Any estimate?
- How many jobs is localization expected to create over next 5 years? 489/ 5679/ more than a million? Any estimates?
- What is the risk of retaliatory impact expected on economy with increase of tariffs on other things? Estimates?
- Do we see any impact on Startup ecosystem – plus/ minus? Estimates?
Data localization must for LEAs..once enforced we can easily crack most of the cyber frauds with electronic evidence which will further lead to conviction. Government must bring about necessary changes in legal provisions and regulations – Prof Dr Triveni Singh, IPS
Whose cost is going up in the group.. I will give you the difference Amount come to me.. Desh ka socho. There is only one Ruler in Cyber Space and that is Data.. Naseeb se we have that resource today. I think if we surrender now India would just remain serviced nation and will loose chance to be Numero UNO. I feel this is the our Group which should support and When India has power we are the first to be benefited. –Prashant Mali, Cyber Law Advocate
From LEAs / Investigation point of view, data localisation is necessary. Its difficult as well as time consuming for LEAs to send request to foreign jurisdictions for obtaining data/meta data. Instead of business, I am more concerned about the successful investigations. – Sanjay Gautam, CBI
If I think about nation first, which also includes our businesses (who has yet nowhere near US tech companies in valuations) that powers the national economy. If you support data localization, then we have to welcome same law by other countries and if even 10 big counties start asking Indian companies to comply with their law, it will raise cost by over 400%. I don’t think that’s a practical long-term solution. – Mohit Kumar, The Hacker News