As a reader, when we slowly analyse the story 1984, author Orwell’s work leaves us apprehensive about our insecured lives in hands of the totalitarian authority. We give out a lot of our personal data out to the Government with the hope to curb terrorist & illegal activities. But the cyber cells & the Government have access to lot more of our personal data than we actually know. 1984 has come & gone but George Orwell’s nightmarish vision about the future seems to grow wider, not lessen along with passage of time.
The Orwellian State is becoming a reality in India and the world. ‘Orwellian’ describes the situation, idea or societal condition that the author identified as being destructive to the welfare of the free society. It connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth including the ‘unperson- a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practised by the modern repressive Government. The Orwellian system functions the following ways.
- Invasion of personal privacy, either directly or indirectly by surveillance.
- State control of its citizen’s daily lives as in a ‘Big Brother’ society.
- Official encouragement of policies contributing to the socio-economic disintegration of the family.
- The use of euphemism to describe an agency, program or other concept, especially when the name denotes the opposite of what is actually occurring. Eg: A department that wages war is called the ‘Ministry Of Peace’ / ‘Ministry of Defence’.
- It controls the mind of the people via betrayal and improper thoughts.
The clear scenario of an Orwellian State emerged during the Stalinist Soviet Union’s period. The communist Party effectively solidified Stalin’s power. Party cells operated in every workplace and classroom, with party members reporting on anyone who was not loyal enough. They had strong totalitarian elements like mass mobilisation and secret police –KGB. Later, with the frightening prospect of a repressive Maoist Government emerging in China which had major influence totalitarianism, the Orwellian State began becoming a reality in world.
NSA is and always has been in the wire tapping business and because of 9/11, this business has been booming. Surveillance is both a tool for ensuring our democracy as well as for oppression. The CMS in India is just another step in the wrong direction especially since India currently lacks privacy laws which can protect citizens from potential abuse. The hypothesis that the CMS can servile and target us individuals can be confirmed. Since Indian law enforcements agencies have access to the content and non-content data while simultaneously being equipped with the necessary technology to analyse our data. Thus, the arguments brought forth by the cyber security experts in India appear to be weak in terms of validity and reliability. The CMS appears to be a form of ‘Big Brother’ upon us.
The necessity and utility of CMS remain unclear and thus it has not been adequately proven yet that the security trade-off is worth it. One thing, though, is clear, we are giving up a lot of our data. We are giving up control of our lives with the hope that crime and terrorism will be reduced. This states the dominance and existence of the Orwellian Society in India as well as in the whole world. For a worldwide example, the existence of Orwellian system is revealed and put before us by the NSA contractor Edward Snowden. He warned that the extent of mass data collection was far greater than the public knew and included what he characterized as ‘dangerous’ and ‘criminal’ activities.
Edward Snowden’s ongoing revelations of the depth of the NSA’s surveillance programs has not fundamentally changed anything but has, for sure, proven that we live in a modern, digital version of the Orwellian nightmare!
BY AISHWARYA IYER
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