The government’s right to intercept for duly authorised legal causes like security and terrorism will always exist with checks and balances in any democracy, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Sunday. The minister, while speaking at Times Now India at 75: The Freedom Summit, said the right to free speech is a fundamental right that any elected government cannot contravene easily.
“As far as the government’s right to intercept for duly authorised, legal causes like security, terrorism, etc (is concerned), that right will always be there with every sovereign government in any democracy, but those are accompanied with checks and balances. “We must understand that there is no utopian world or where George Orwell’s sort of a situation is addressed completely,” Chandrasekhar said.
He said that to remain confident, ignore the conspiracy theorists who will waive a fig leaf of truth and create a whole conspiracy around it. The minister was responding to questions around concerns on the back of certain controversies in worldwide expose, where the state is also being seen as a bit of a threat.
“The senior minister (Ashwini Vaishnaw) in my ministry has very clearly and very simply put it out there that we are a country with checks and balances. “We have systems. We have procedures for everything that a ministry or a government is able to do in its normal sort of a job of maintaining law and order,” Chandrasekhar said.
He said that while the fears may be there, but the reciprocal confidence in some people, in terms of following the law, the fact that the privacy and free speech are constitutionally guaranteed in India and it is not some favour that somebody is putting out there, has to be also in a sense understood. “So, don’t always believe the conspiracy theorist who’s waving the flag of conspiracy,” Chandrasekhar said.
The monsoon session of Parliament was disrupted with the Opposition kept demanding inquiry into Pegausus snooping row in which WhatsApp of some journalists and politicians were allegedly hacked for spying on them. Chandrasekhar said people have started responding to politicians who have been peddling fake news.
He said fake news is not something that the governments in democracies are going to be ever able to do and is going to finally end up with the citizens who will say that they don’t want to listen to the fake news. “I think the Indian democracy is responding well. If you see the track record of politicians who have peddled fake news for the last six-seven years, and you correlate their political success to their track record on social media, I think the people of India are already responding to this,” Chandrasekhar said.
He said the government’s mission is to use the large capable resources, the innovation, the talent and organisational depth of companies and entrepreneurs around the country to take technology to the last man or woman standing. “We are today celebrating 75 years of independence, a lot of Indians there are almost 400 million Indians who are looking at what the next 25 years will be.
“I hope, to a large extent, my ministry will play a role in empowering them to be powerfully capable of following their dreams and becoming global citizens,” the minister said. He added that the goal for the Ministry of Electronics and IT has been laid down by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he said he aspires for India to become a trillion-dollar digital economy in the near term.
“Digital economy is not just about the size because digital economy represents size as well as the innovation and all of the other cutting-edge technologies…like artificial intelligence, 5G-6G, machine learning. “All of these areas we need to be very good at because those are going to be relevant in the coming years,” Chandrasekhar said. PTI