One does not grudge Mr. Julian Assange the fame he has acquired. The Wikileaks event merits global attention. The sheer volume of diplomatic cables accessed by the website creates astonishment. Even though the disclosures thus far merely titillate or give insight to what US diplomats think of current events.
The breathless excitement with which Mr. Prakash Karat reacted to the disclosure that US authorities preferred Miss Mamata Banerjee to the Communists was confined only to him. Any child could have told him that America prefers non-communists to communists for governing states.
|The black money deposited abroad by ruling politicians may ruin the nation. But is not the thinking process deposited abroad by Indian politicians ruining the nation even more?
What does disturb about the Wikileaks exposures is the reaction of India’s politicians and media. The servility acquired by India’s elite during the colonial era has not abated. It was pointed out earlier in these columns how pathetic the Indian media and political response was to the drab exposures put out by the Wikileaks website. Old information that had been published earlier by Indian media sources that was more damaging and more documented than anything revealed by Wikileaks up till now was given short shrift by Indian politicians and pundits. Now the same class dances like a performing monkey to the old hat being drummed up by Julian Assange and Wikileaks.
Julian Assange rubbishes those who doubt the authenticity of his leaked cables. But what about his own authenticity? Is he the genuine article or a manipulated instrument created by the US establishment? It was pointed out how the material leaked to newspapers by Wikileaks was vetted and cleared by the White House before publication. This was confirmed by the New York Times. It was also pointed out that just one US army Private, Bradley Manning, was singly responsible for leaking 76,000 US military documents, 40,000 US war logs and 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks. Is this believable? Certainly not to nations that are not intellectually sold out to the West as India’s politicians and media are.
Arab websites alleged that Assange had met in Geneva with Israeli Mossad officials and agreed not to disclose documents that could harm Israel. Some of the Wikileaks disclosures have embarrassed Arab leaders who were depicted as secret supporters of a military attack by the United States or Israel on Iran. But on January 13, 2011 the Israeli daily, Haaretz, published a report by its intelligence correspondent, Yossi Melman, claiming that the NGO, International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights, which hosted Julian Assange's November visit to Geneva was financed by the Iranian government! Whatever the truth, Mr. Assange’s links defy any easy explanation.
This week the TV channel Times Now obtained an interview with Mr. Julian Assange. The channel screamed that shocking revelations were obtained in that interview. The politicians like monkeys on a cue swung into action demanding from the government the names of Indians holding illegal foreign bank accounts. But what had Assange disclosed to provoke this excited reaction? In a drab, dull interview he said that Indians more than any other nationality had the largest amount of illegal money deposited in foreign banks. He said that the double taxation treaties in no way hindered the Indian government from going after black money abroad. He said that the Indian government was dragging its feet and needed to be more aggressive while addressing the issue. He said that there were Indian names among the Swiss bank account holders. He disclosed no names. But he advised Indians to “absolutely not lose hope” because the truth will come out one day.
This served as an injection to activate our opposition leaders to demand that the government reveal all the names. Did it require this empty sermon by Mr. Assange to activate the opposition, and that too for just one day, to perform its tired meaningless ritual? Ram Jethmalani and Subramaniam Swamy are fighting court cases against the government on the basis of much stronger allegations related to black money abroad and corruption cases. Mr. MR Venkatesh has written a whole book, Sense, Sensex and Sentiments, dealing with the hollow excuse of double taxation treaties offered by the government and black money siphoned abroad. This scribe has demanded from the government the names of Indians having illegal bank accounts in Lichtenstein which the Finance Ministry has withheld from the Supreme Court. And during all this while the opposition was twiddling its thumbs. Now thanks to Mr. Assange the opposition has momentarily remembered that the government is brazenly covering up corruption and crime.
So consider the larger issue. The black money deposited abroad by ruling politicians may ruin the nation. But is not the thinking process deposited abroad by Indian politicians ruining the nation even more?