Non-Traditional Security

Privacy, property and sovereignty in the cyber age

Privacy, property and sovereignty in the cyber age
Seminar 650, October, 2013

L’affaire Snowden did not tell us anything we did not already know – that
governments spy on us. What is new, however, is how heightened perceptions
of national security and sophisticated technology are combining to
allow these activities by the ‘state’ to go unnoticed and unchallenged. This
paper first examines the three categories of national attitudes that become
apparent from the Snowden affair –specifically with regards to privacy
and, thereafter, attempts to explain how these attitudes and lack of public
awareness are leading to far more dangerous and insidious undercurrents
that challenge the foundations of civil liberties, notions of property and definitions
of sovereignty as we know them.

All indications are that certain checks and balances were/are being
observed – if only on paper – by the United States government in the surveillance
of its citizens. No such checks, however, seem to have been
applied to foreigners, be they resident in America or their respective countries.
What is pertinent, however, is how far America has strayed from its
founding principles governing personal freedom and political liberty. It appears
that the pendulum has swung so far that the debate is no longer about
whether the government should have any right to monitor citizens but rather
what the standards and procedures for extraordinary intrusive surveillance
should be. The debate in the public sphere has become so securitized that
‘national security’ is now an open ticket to trample on every right and
freedom the US once held sacred. If former President George W. Bush Jr.
jeopardized individual liberty with the Patriot Act, President Barack Obama
has bestowed on his government the right to be a virtual presence in the lives
and bedrooms of billions of people around the world – without care,
remorse or debate.

Another disappointment – indicative of this attitudinal shift
in America on the subject of privacy – is the stand of the American press on
the issue. Far from Snowden’s revelations igniting a debate on privacy versus
security, the media seems to have bought the security narrative lock, stock
and barrel. Evidently the memory of 1971, when Daniel Ellsberg was feted
as a hero of liberty by the US media for his leaks exposing ‘Vietnam Lies’
and forcing a policy reversal on the part of the US government, has long since
faded. Every US media outlet has gone to great length to explain the legality
and due process of the PRISM spying apparatus and has, almost uniformly,
painted Snowden in a poor light.

The second ‘state attitude’ is that of the EU, where several governments,
unlike the US government, led their citizens to believe that they were
in fact protected. The EU released its cyber security doctrine earlier this year.

* This essay draws on two previously published op-ed articles, Samir Saran and
Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, ‘No to Peeping Sams’, The Hindu, 18 July 2013 and Samir Saran,
‘Keep Cyberspace Free’, Times of India, 12 September 2013.

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It repeatedly referred to the EU’s core values of freedom of expression
and privacy. The document was ostensibly developed around these ‘core
values’.1 But this now sounds like a hollow claim, because even as the
document was being released, many EU countries were actively colluding
with the US and prying into the private lives of their citizens. Unlike the US
government which ostensibly protected its own citizens by some form
of due process, the European governments allowed blatant violation of
their own citizens’ privacy. However, most European press outlets, unlike
the American media have been savage in their criticism of their own governments;
perhaps a more sensitive media ensures the balance of narrative
in the EU.

India, however, represents a curious case, unable to secure its citizens
either through legislation or by the vigilance of its fourth estate. The country
released its National Cyber security Doctrine around the same time that the
Snowden issue came into public focus – paying mere lip service to privacy.
The word ‘privacy’ found mention twice in the whole document,2 appearing
as an afterthought. India ostensibly already has a privacy regime that
is built into the outsourcing bill, not to protect Indians but to keep the outsourcing
industry viable and competitive by promising protection to foreigners
and their data. Barely a few weeks after the release of the document,
CCTV footage from the Delhi metro of couples getting intimate were found
on a pornographic website. No one was held to account, no heads rolled
and no apology was forthcoming from any quarter. This episode summarizes
India’s casual approach to its citizens’ privacy – little concern about privacy,
on the one hand, and a complete lack of enforcement, on the other.

On the Snowden issue as well, the Indian foreign minister played down
reports of US surveillance on Indian citizens, calling it ‘cyber-scrutiny’,
while other members of the government nonchalantly chirped in that ‘we
too have similar systems in place’, as if two wrongs make a right. The Indian
media is another story altogether. Far from being a balancer, a competitive
hunt for eyeballs has ensured that broadcast and other media are themselves
guilty of infringing on private spaces of citizens. Some high profile
court cases are in progress and perhaps their outcomes may decide the
future of boundaries that the press and media may need to adhere to. The citizen
in India in the mean while has no respite.

This analysis invariably will lead us to another set of discussions, three
among which are perhaps most vital today. The first is that governments,
everywhere, snoop and pry on the lives on their own citizens. This is equally
true of authoritarian governments like Russia or China, of new democracies
like India, securitized democracies like the US, and the ‘so called’ liberal transparent
democracies of Europe that ostensibly do not prioritize security
over liberty. Privacy certainly is not a universal or timeless quality.3 It is
defined by who one is talking to, or by the expectations of the larger society
in a given context. And, privacy is not the same as security or anonymity.

It is the ability to have control over one’s definition within an environment
that is fully understood. Something, arguably, no one has any more. As
Danah Boyd, senior researcher at Microsoft research says, ‘Defaults
around how we interact have changed.A conversation in the hallway is private by default, public by effort. Online, our interactions become public by default, private by effort.’

The issue is largely one of societal norms complicated by the fact
that most personal use is marked by low levels of computational, data and
media literacy contributing to heightened fears. This is best exemplified by
how different governments and societies reacted to the Snowden revelations.
Somehow, there is a misplaced notion that private data and information
stored on the cyber cloud is less private than in files in a locker. Possibly
this is why breach of privacy in the digital sphere seems more acceptable.

The second issue is that the lack of public (cyber)awareness and literacy
is allowing governments to get away with a whole host of actions that would
have been unimaginable a decade ago. It is not just dangerous that governments
want to police or spy on us; that is something governments have
always done. However, until recently such action was more often than not
visible; there was a policeman on the road, a camera on the kerb, and so on.
But now what is scary is not just the stealth, but that the lack of avenues to
challenge and question such surveillance has created a new asymmetry
between the government and its subjects. This asymmetry is now
redefining privacy norms, property and sovereignty.

The third is that people tend to trust private companies with personal
information – usually in blocks – but not governments.

1. ‘Cybersecurity Strategy of the European Union: An Open Safe and Secure Cyberspace’,
European Union, Brussels, 7 February
2013.
2. ‘National Cybersecurity Policy’, Ministry
of Communications and Information Technology
– Department of Electronics and Information
Technology, 2 July 2013.
3. Parts of this paragraph have been paraphrased
from Q. Hardy, ‘Rethinking Privacy
in an Era of Big Data’, The New York Times,
4 June 2012.

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Yet, the government, with the collusion of private companies,
is easily able to triangulate such information to build up a comprehensive
picture of individuals. For example ones’ Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
personalities can all be different based on the target audience. Yet the government,
with the active collusion of each of these platforms, can build these
disparate packets into a comprehensive whole.

In many ways the history of datamining and the public’s acceptance of such data mining for advertising purposes
presaged this acceptance of data-mining for security purposes. Data-mining is a complex interdisciplinary
operation that involves computers processing vast amounts of information, matching them against preset algorithms, and finding intersections, what are euphemistically referred to as ‘points of interest’.4 In
the marketing industry, data-mining helps businesses target individuals for
the sale of specific products that they might be interested in. In the domain
of security, this becomes the basis for a warrant to allow, for example, a
human agent to start scanning personal correspondence. It was in effect the
public’s acceptance of this in marketing and the private sector that has now
exposed them, both practically and normatively, to unprecedented personal
surveillance by the government. The private sector has turned out to be the governments’ Trojan Horse.

Perhaps the most dangerous outcome of public laxity over data-mining
is how legal standards for intrusion have been diluted. Up to a decade back,
law enforcement agencies had to painstakingly construct a case of probable
cause and present it to the judge.

Probable cause is defined as ‘information sufficient to warrant a prudent
person’s belief that the wanted individual had committed a crime (for an
arrest warrant) or that evidence of a crime or contraband would be found
in a search (for a search warrant).’5 This then resulted in warrants for
further surveillance to acquire information. Today, given that the information available without the warrant is
already so vast, that it is not a legal process that is required to gauge intent,
but rather a computer code or programme. We are well and truly entering
a stage of ‘Minority Report’ style pre-crime,6 where mere intent –whether actioned or not, is prosecutable
and even worse punishable.

For instance, a husband telling a wife over a casual conversation that ‘the
president should be shot’ would first of all not have been picked up, and second,
it would not have been a crime. However, if this same exchange happens
over email – not only is it intercepted,but it also falls under a class D
felony under United States Code Title 18, Section 871 ‘Threatening the
President of the United States’. So what exactly has changed to merit this
conversation to (a) being overheard and (b) treated as a crime? The latest
example of this slippery slope to precrime and intent is of the Massachusetts
teenager and wannabe rap artist Cameron D’Ambrosio facing 20 years
for intent.7

This ‘intent’ is decided again by the data modelling devised by marketing
agencies where they targeted a particular customer for a particular
product the customer would in fact buy or be very interested in acquiring.
While this probabilistic determination is good for ‘sales’, it cannot be an
acceptable basis for conviction and punishment without a date in court.
For example – drone strikes can be ordered based on intercepted cyber
chatter that determines the so called malafide intent. Such drone strikes
effectively blur the line between legally sanctioned pre-emptive actions8 as
opposed to illegal preventative action.9

The second Trojan horse is how people’s behaviour in the cybersphere
has been changing accepted notions of property. The ease of use, and the
reach of cyber media, have fundamentally changed both consumer behaviour
and created an asymmetric balance of power in favour of the vendor. For
example a decade ago, it was possible to buy a book, lend it to friends, photocopy
sections of it and more under the fair use exceptions to the copyright act.
However, publishing and content houses are today actively underpricing
hard copy versions to make soft copies seem attractive, but with overriding
controls. For example, most commercial e-books cannot be printed,
or even lent to friends. In effect, fair use has been completely removed
from the scope without so much as a discussion. The notion of property
and right to the property has altered dramatically.

What is happening is the enforcement of commerciality through
legislation to force just one kind of transaction which favours the vendor.

4. U. Fayyad, G. Piatetsky-Shapiro and
P. Smyth, ‘From Data Mining to Knowledge
Discovery in Databases’, Artificial Intelligence
Magazine, Fall 1996.
5. Oxford Companion to American Law,
Oxford University Press, 2002.
6. ‘Minority Report’ is 2002 blockbuster
movie starring Tom Cruise in a future where a
special police unit is able to arrest murderers
before they commit their crimes.
7. ‘Bail denied to Massachusetts teen accused
of Facebook terror post’, Reuters, 25 May
2013.
8. D. Shue and H. Shue, Preemption: Military
Action and Moral Justification. Oxford
University Press, New York, 2007.
9. For an in-depth exploration of the legality
of preemption and the illegality of prevention
see M. Doyle, Striking First: Preemption
and Prevention in International Conflict,
Princeton University Press, 2008.

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Legislation though is not meant to support a commercial transaction, as
law has to be neutral between contracting parties. Even the option of differential
pricing – where different usages can be bought for different rates – is
limited. For example, on the iTunes store, very few songs – priced higher
– give one the authority to transfer to another device. Most songs are restricted
to the one playback device.

In effect, while benefiting from the unprecedented mass reach of cyber
media, content producers are preventing consumers from benefiting similarly
from the same. One does not tame the oceans just because one wishes to use
the oceans for transport. Rather, the risks are recognized and suitable maritime
insurance is procured. Yet, in the cybersphere, instead of dealing with
the risks and devising the concept of cyber-insurance, companies are
effectively trying to mould this dynamic environment to suit their commercial
interests. Our last mile, our user behaviour and our infrastructure is
now sought to be regulated, monitored and controlled so as to create ‘safe
cyber oceans’ for the ‘virtual ships’ to sail on. Private property is now global
commons.

This raises several debates about what constitutes property in
cyberspace? Contrast the free use exception to copyright laws on hard
copies of books described earlier with the case of Megaupload, where the
US government insists that since it owns much of the cyber-infrastructure
of the world, companies operating outside the US must follow US law.
Effectively this is a restating of the ‘possession is nine tenths of the law’
cliché. On the other hand, it has through legislation stemming from the Trojan
horses described earlier, been progressively disenfranchising consumers
from claiming similar rights. In fact, not only is property being redescribed, territory
and by implication sovereignty itself has acquired a new meaning.

The US has been using cyclic logic to in its attempts at strong-arming to
itself cyberspace ownership by mingling civil and criminal complaints
and using one to justify the other without proving either. A recent example
of such an action by a state on a foreign company is the United States
Department of Justice’s takedown of the website Megaupload. The site’s
owner, the now-famous Kim Dotcom, is a resident of New Zealand and a
German citizen. Megaupload itself is run out of Hong Kong. So far there
does not seem to be any connection to the US. The justification used to go
after Megaupload was that the company had leased several servers which
were located in Virginia, and was allegedly storing and distributing
copyright-infringing files. It has not been proven that any files infringing
copyright were being held on the servers in Virginia. Furthermore,
Megaupload’s users are located throughout the globe, not solely in the
United States.

As of now, the rules, which govern the process by which the US serves
criminal complaints (the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure) require an
address in the United States where the complaint can be delivered. Despite
the fact that the company in question did not have any such address (being
registered and run out of Hong Kong), the US was able to proceed. The Justice
Department is now recommending that the rules be amended to
remove the clause, allowing them to serve complaints on companies
with no physical presence in the US. Megaupload’s case, United States v
Dotcom.

So on one hand while the government is forcing its jurisdiction on
cyberspace through claims of physical ownership it, at the behest of the private
sector, is denying the same freedom to consumers on their home
computers and other media devices. In fact, never before in human history
has a corporation enjoyed this much intrusive influence in human lives as
the internet has today enabled. And yet, it is the corporation that is sought
to be protected.

However, just as private sector datamining proved to be a Trojan horse to
intrusive surveillance, there are signs that such assertion of property laws
will at some point undermine the Westphalian concept of a nation state
and of sovereignty. Sovereignty has further implications of extra-territoriality
which are bound to raise serious hackles in the developing world. For
example, in the Megaupload case, US courts are seen demanding that companies
which operate in the US must follow US law in their international
operations. The argument then is for national sovereignty to be absolute
over such infrastructure, where the placing of virtual property in the physical
domain of another country necessitates the author of such information
to follows the laws of said country. Worryingly, this is a modern example of what European imperial powers
did in the 19th and early 20th centuries, imposing their laws, often through
coercion, on other nations.

Europe has traditionally been comfortable with notions of extraterritoriality
and takes a liberal view of sovereignty. This is evident in its
response to the Snowden episode.The European Union (EU) is after all
formed on the basis of a slow surrender of sovereignty and most EU states
are also members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), allowing
US troops stationed there to be governed by US laws. Extra-territoriality,

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therefore, is perfectly legal when it happens with the acquiescence of
the host government. What is surprising though is India’s subdued reaction. This is a
country that gets riled up by interference in its internal affairs or insults
to its sovereignty, perceived or real, owing to its colonial past. Accounts of
how the East India Company ended up controlling most of India by acquiring
properties through crook and stealth rankle. Yet, in the case of the Snowden
revelations, where a foreign government has used stealthy/crooked means
to violate Indian laws and penetrate deep into the lives of its citizens, the
Indian government has brushed it off. This sets a precedent because, for
better or worse, what India has tacitly accepted is US extraterritoriality.

Thoughtless transposition of laws is, however, a recipe for all kinds of
disasters. For example, several strategists have argued that much of the tension
in the South China Sea is caused by the People’s Republic of China
extending its understanding of territorial laws based on it being a continental
power out to sea. The maritime domain though is a very different beast,
requiring very different laws. No analogy is perfect, but this one helps illustrate
how concepts imbibed from customary laws in the pre-Internet era
are bound to cause significant governance blunders. Now take the accepted
paradigm for cyber-sovereignty.

For example, the currently accepted definition is: ‘When those
infrastructure elements are emplaced within the terrestrial boundaries, territorial
waters, or exclusive airspace of a nation-state, it can exert its sovereign
authority over them.’10 However, in light of the Megaupload case, this
now seems a patently hollow assertion. This reinforces the position that old
paradigms that were relevant to the nation state are no longer relevant in
cyberspace and as such the issue needs to be dealt with sui generis.
There is no room for any retrofitting here. And people, communities, states
and institutions must begin a new conversation to address these new
age posers.

Cyberspace is a free-wheeling mindspace at the cutting edge of innovation
precisely because of the absence of sovereignty and artificial barriers.
Declaring sovereignty here is as absurd as extending one’s jurisdiction
deep into the minds of others. One reason for the phenomenal growth of
the Internet has been the easy flow of information. In many ways it brings
the proven scientific synergies of physical megacities into the virtual
world, allowing seamless interaction and massive increases in productivity.
If the property and sovereignty debate is not resolved soon, it will result in a
fracturing of the cyber-whole, destroying much of what has made the
Internet a dynamic force.

There are no solutions that present themselves but certain parting
questions are in order: First, can we agree on a common definition of
privacy and defaults assumptions on what is private? Can we create private
bedrooms and modes for private conversations in the virtual rooms? Second,
should commercial interests allow the idea of property to be redefined?
Why should the exploitation of the web for business and commerce allow
privacy, freedom of expression and property rights to be compromised?
And, third, is cyber a ‘zero-sum game’ and will nations indulge once again in
establishing, capturing and redefining sovereign spaces? Or, will this digital
age bring an end to the over two centuries of Westphalian existence

10. A. Casesse, International Law 81 (2nd edition), 2005.

Keep cyberspace free

SAMIR SARAN | Sep 12, 2013, 12.00 AM IST

It is a global commons that cannot be controlled by any government or corporation.

History today stands on the cusp of a technological pivot much like it did 160 years ago. When US commodore
Matthew Perrysailed into Tokyo Bay in 1853, he found a Japan so fossilised in time by its technophobic bureaucracy and protectionist businesses that the very sight of his steam-belching ships was enough to make the nation capitulate.

This same moment is playing out today in the realm of cyberspace where the surge of collective technological creativity of the masses has deeply dented the power of governments and institutions that were once the drivers of innovation.

Consequently one finds a steady stream of Goebbelsian propaganda to create a phantom enemy intended to terrorise a population into giving up its rights and privileges. The government and big private players are the last and only line of defence between civilisation and a complete descent into anarchy — or so the argument goes. Not true. Anarchy and technology go hand in hand; technology and innovation owe their existence to anarchy.

Anarchy and technology must continue to contest and cooperate to shape cyberspace. This is a process as old as the universe and evolution itself, where each new development brings both danger and opportunity. This is humanity’s technological evolution. There must be no space for sovereign or business interests to control, securitise or regulate this evolving virtual space. This is, after all, the only genuinely free market place ever since the advent of capitalism, a market offering equal opportunities, stakes and roles for everyone.

Counterposing national security and cyberspace or making international cooperation dependent on cybersecurity is both pompous and misplaced. Cyberspace is a free-wheeling mind-space at the cutting edge of innovation precisely because of the absence of sovereignty and artificial barriers. Declaring sovereignty here is as absurd as extending one’s jurisdiction deep into the minds of others.

For example, Libya in 2010 decided to seize .Ly URL shorteners, while the US has recently seized URLs of companies operating abroad because their servers were in the US and American law was at odds with the laws of those countries. This is evidently not about security. It’s about control. It’s about testing the waters to see how far one can go and how far people will cower down. Cyberspace is therefore on the frontline of the battle between freedom and control in the 21st century.

Governments though aren’t the only ones throwing a fuss. Some of the strongest proponents of greater regulation and control over the cybersphere are in the private sector. On the one hand they want to use the seamless fluidity, innovation, reach and speed of this space — the ultimate capitalist ideal — to their advantage. On the other, like the very worst kind of communists, they want to lay down the rules for how this space works, but expect everyone to pick up the tab for their security.

If these companies wish to use cyberspace, they need to be willing to accept the attendant risks and costs, just like they are for road or sea transit. Transfer loss and copyright theft are all part of this. To claim that such losses then entitle one to regulate these cyber pathways is about as nakedly imperialistic an argument as the great European powers used to justify their land-grabs in response to any law and order situation in the 19th century. It is critical that the information age does not turn into an age of ‘digital imperialism’.

So, if governments and corporates don’t decide the rules, who does? The reality is that no corporate house or government has the organisational nimbleness to lay the rules here — technology’s moving too fast for that. Technology is both the problem and the solution. Just as every virus results in an antivirus and for every hack there emerges an anti-hack, technology must compete with technology and creativity must be matched by counter-creativity. Ultimately the needs of order cannot and must not be allowed to stifle creativity. Far from it, creativity must decide order.

Some forms of data do need protection though, such as security operations, banking details etc. Wonderful, so the owners and collators of such information should build their own secure parallel systems unconnected to the global commons that they are free to police, patrol and regulate as they see fit. If they want security they need to build their own infrastructure with its own fences. The commons cannot be fenced off, and neither can the property of others.

Cyberspace, however, fits into no single category — it is an intensely personal extension of one’s deepest thoughts and secrets. An extension of the mind, this makes it both private property as well as an outlet of expression, while at the same time being a global common open to everyone. Cede but a little on the right to property in this space and one loses the right to one’s freedom of expression. This debate is also the frontline between personal liberty and authoritarianism.

Every time the interests of the state and the freedom of the individual collide, the balance of the narrative in the cyber-world must lie with the individual. That is what is truly at stake here; the personal liberty of six billion people.

The writer is vice-president, Observer Research Foundation.

Original link is http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/Keep-cyberspace-free/articleshow/22493280.cms

Samir chaired the ORF event ‘How should India meet the Maoist challenge?’, 2010

May 15, 2010
New Delhi   

There is an urgent need to re-examine the current strategies of the government towards the Maoist challenge. This was noted during a roundtable discussion on “Meeting the Maoist Challenge: A Re-look at Current Strategy” on Friday, 14 May, 2010 organized by ORF. Focusing the discussion on how to tackle the Maoist challenge, it was noted that bad governance, misplaced development models, incorrect security measures, and perceptions of justice have all played a significant role in the growth of Maoism in India’s heartland.    

Two issues came out prominently during the discussion. First, the current discourse on the Maoist challenge has been dominated by one view – the “paranoid view.” A consequence of this has been the complete absence of alternative views in the current strategies of the government. Second, contrary to the popular understanding and strategies, the discussion noted that the issue was not development but the sense of being denied justice and/or access to justice. Again, in contrast to the popular notion that the Maoist-Naxal problem was a law and order problem, it was noted that the issue is rather a problem of the obliteration of the politico-social structures of the tribal people.

Assessing the current strategies adopted by the Centre and various affected State Governments to counter the spread of the left wing extremist in more than 200 districts of India, a participant pointed out that the Salva Judum strategy of the government has been one of the main causes of the growth of Naxalism. It was pointed out that no rehabilitation and compensation has been made by the government of Chattisgarh to the people who had lost everything.

A participant pointed out that there is a general contempt among people towards the tribals which also was one of the reasons for the current state of affairs in the tribal areas. Another participant noted that there is a difference between cause and phenomenon. Commenting on the role of media, a participant noted that both print and electronic media have become indifferent to the Maoist issue. Further, the media has been fed by only one side – the police view – and reports often lacked balance.

The discussion questioned the “elitist development model” in tribal areas. It was noted that the current development model measured only by GDP growth and encourages corporate interests has destroyed the livelihood of the tribal people as most of their land were taken away for mining and other industrial projects. Both government and corporate had gone and uproot the tribals in their own land without showing any respect for the tribal people, their culture, their traditional knowledge, their civilisational strengths and their land.

The discussion suggested a multi-pronged strategy for the government. An admixture social, judicial, economic, political and security approaches have been suggested. Though the discussion also got trapped in the debate on what come first – security or development, it brought in other elements that go beyond the mere debate on security vs development.

It was noted that there was a need to broaden the medium of discussion on the Maoist challenge. It was felt that to develop a proper approach to tackle the issue, alternative voices need to be included while formulating strategies and policies. It was also noted that IB or police view alone is not enough but also one sided and that there was a need to include rights-based perspectives in government’s policies. It was noted that the issue was not pure economics but one of delivering rights.

On the political front, it was suggested that there was a need to re-look at the current governmental structures at the district and block levels. A participant suggested that the first priority of the government has to be to restore civil administration in the affected states and districts. A participant noted that change in government structures at the block level could be an effective way to ensure better representation of local people who are better placed to understand local issues and problems. Also, such as gesture could also give a sense of justice to the people. It was also suggested some autonomous areas could be created for the tribal people through that a sense of local control over its own people and resources could be ensured.

It was noted that there an urgent need for the government agencies to address the basic needs of the people. Education has been stressed in the tribal areas. It was suggested that the “elitist development model” in tribal areas need to be re-assessed. This mode of development has not created wealth but transferred wealth an there was a need for an alternative model of development where the local benefit.

The discussion has urged the government to deliver rights to the people. A participant has suggested that a judicial commission needs to be set up to address the issue of injustice that has been meted out on the people.

A participant noted that there was a need to re-look at the Salva Judum policy. Another participant pointed out that the traditional police force cannot deal with the Maoist challenge and there was a need for special training. A participant felt that there was a need for appropriate security force to deal with the Maoist problem to minimize collateral damage. Most of the participants felt the army should not be used also against the Maoists.

The discussion, presided by former Special Secretary Ministry of Home Affairs Mahendra Kumawat, ended with the note that development and security approaches need to include right-based approach in dealing with the Maoist challenge.

Participants included Mr. D.M. Mitra, Mr. Mohan Guruswamy, Dr. Nandini Sundar, Mr. Dilip Kumar, Mr. Arvind Kaul, Mr. Ashol Rastogi, Mr. K Subramaniam, Mr. Rajiv Sharma, Mr Saibal Dutta, Dr. Satish Misra, Mr. Samir Saran, Dr. Niranjan Sahoo and others.

‘Pakistans Defence’ on ORF’s Radical Islam report

by Vladimir Radyuhin
October 2010
Link to original website

The West is using radical Islam as a tool in geopolitical games for dominance, Indian and Russian scholars have said in a unique collaborative project presented in Moscow this week. The project, “Radical Islam”, a 480-page collection of papers prepared by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi, and the Experimental Creative Centre (ECC), Moscow, was unveiled at a press conference in Moscow.

Edited by Sergei Kurginyan, ECC president, and Vikram Sood, vice-president, ORF, Centre for International Studies, it offers a fresh perspective on radicalisation of Islam, placing it in a wider geopolitical and philosophical framework. It examines the roots, the contexts and manifestations of radicalism in Islam, as well as activities of Islamists in South Asia, Central Asia, Iran, the Middle East, Europe and the former Soviet Union. Presenting their joint study, Indian and Russian scholars noted the West’s role in playing the card of radical Islam.

‘A factor since Partition’

“The West has been using religion and religious violence to promote separatism since the partition of India,” said Ambassador M. Rasgotra, President, ORF, Centre for International Relations. “The British were the first to do it in India, then the Americans learnt the trick. They incited jihad in Afghanistan, stirred separatism to break-up the Soviet Union and tried to tear Chechnya from post-Soviet Russia.” Dr. Kurginyan said that Russia still faced the danger of the West trying to re-enact the “Afghan scenario,” when radical Islam was used to provoke instability. He recalled that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had cultivated and financed Islamic radicals in Afghanistan to drag the Soviet Union militarily into civil strife in that country in 1979.

One of the Russian contributions in the book analyses the U.S.’ “deepening alliance with Islamism” along the vast southern “arc of instability” stretching from Northern Africa to the Chinese border. This strategy included the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, the arming of the Afghan Mujahideen, the support of Muslim radicals in former Yugoslavia, cultivation of “moderate” Islamists in the Middle East, and finally, “the new alliance with Pakistan” to reintegrate the Taliban into the political mainstream in Afghanistan. The scholars noted the special importance of the Indian and Russian perspectives on Islam as it differed greatly from the Western perspective. “The West tends to look at Islam in black-and-white, while Indian and Russian researchers look at it in [a] multiplicity of identities, discourses and ideas,” Mr. Sanjoy Joshi, ORF said.

“Islam has been [a] part of life both in India and Russia for centuries, whereas the West in those same centuries was the oppressor of Islam,” Mr. Rasgotra said, adding that India and Russia had much to gain from sharing their experiences in handling the problem of radical Islam. “The nature of the problem is the same, even as its manifestations may be different. Your experience is relevant to us and our experience is relevant to you,” he stressed.

Dr. Kurginyan hailed the project on as a “revival of scholarly cooperation” between the two countries. “I’ve never seen such a meeting of minds between researchers from different countries as in this Indo-Russian project.”

“Radical Islam” has been brought out in Russian and its English edition is to be published in India. The editors said the ORF and ECC, planned to undertake further studies of Islam and other issues of mutual interest.

Australian’s Raleigh Times covers ORF’s Latin America event, 2011

 

 

 

August 2, 2011
Link to original website

Participating in an interaction at Observer Research Foundation, envoys from 17 countries from Latin America said their countries are keen to strengthen economic relations with India. “We want better, mutually beneficial relations with India. We have got lots of natural resources, especially oil and other energy resources. But we don’t want to be just provider of resources. We want you to cooperate in our development also,” said Columbian Ambassador Juan Alfredo Pinto Saavedra.

Saavedra, the coordinator of the group of Ambassadors of the Latin American countries, said the US and the Europe used resources from their countries for their development, but did not help them in the development.  “While they used our resources, we remained poor,” he said. He wanted India and China to be different in their approach to Latin American countries.

Besides the Columbian Ambassador, Ambassadors from Paraguay, Uruguay, Panama, Costo Rica, Mexico, Peru, Cuba, Dominican Republic attended the interaction. The other countries were represented by high level diplomats like Deputy Chief the Missions and Charge d’ Affaires. The Ambassadors were given a presentation on the ORF Report on India’s non-traditional security threats, titled “Navigating the Near” by Samir Saran, Vice President, Observer Research Foundation.  This study was done by ORF for the Integrated Defence Staff, the Ministry of Defence.

Chairing the meeting, M. Rasgotra, a former Foreign Secretary and now President of the ORF Centre for International Relations, said Latin American countries enjoyed good sentiments in India. He said India would be keen to have mutually beneficial cooperation with them.

Former Foreign Secretary K. Raghunath and ORF Director Sunjoy Joshi also took part in the meeting.

TruthDive.com covers ORF’s Latin America event, August 2011

August 2, 2011, New Delhi
Link to original website
Envoys of Latin American countries today sought mutually beneficial cooperation with India. Participating in an interaction at Observer Research Foundation, envoys from 17 countries from Latin America said their countries are keen to strengthen economic relations with India. “We want better, mutually beneficial relations with India. We have got lots of natural resources, especially oil and other energy resources. But we don’t want to be just provider of resources. We want you to cooperate in our development also,” said Columbian Ambassador Juan Alfredo Pinto Saavedra.

Saavedra, the coordinator of the group of Ambassadors of the Latin American countries, said the US and the Europe used resources from their countries for their development, but did not help them in the development. “While they used our resources, we remained poor,” he said. He wanted India and China to be different in their approach to Latin American countries.

Besides the Columbian Ambassador, Ambassadors from Paraguay, Uruguay, Panama, Costo Rica, Mexico, Peru, Cuba, Dominican Republic attended the interaction. The other countries were represented by high level diplomats like Deputy Chief the Missions and Charge d’ Affaires. The Ambassadors were given a presentation on the ORF Report on India’s non-traditional security threats, titled “Navigating the Near” by Samir Saran, Vice President, Observer Research Foundation.

This study was done by ORF for the Integrated Defence Staff, the Ministry of Defence. Chairing the meeting, M. Rasgotra, a former Foreign Secretary and now President of the ORF Centre for International Relations, said Latin American countries enjoyed good sentiments in India. He said India would be keen to have mutually beneficial cooperation with them.

Former Foreign Secretary K. Raghunath and ORF Director Sunjoy Joshi also took part in the meeting.

NewKerala.com covers ORF report launch on non-traditional security

Latin American countries keen to strengthen relations with India 
April 16, 2011
Link to website  

Participating in an interaction at Observer Research Foundation, envoys from 17 countries from Latin America said their countries are keen to strengthen economic relations with India. “We want better, mutually beneficial relations with India. We have got lots of natural resources, especially oil and other energy resources. But we don’t want to be just provider of resources. We want you to cooperate in our development also,” said Columbian Ambassador Juan Alfredo Pinto Saavedra.

Saavedra, the coordinator of the group of Ambassadors of the Latin American countries, said the US and the Europe used resources from their countries for their development, but did not help them in the development. “While they used our resources, we remained poor,” he said. He wanted India and China to be different in their approach to Latin American countries.

Besides the Columbian Ambassador, Ambassadors from Paraguay, Uruguay, Panama, Costo Rica, Mexico, Peru, Cuba, Dominican Republic attended the interaction. The other countries were represented by high level diplomats like Deputy Chief the Missions and Charge d’ Affaires.

The Ambassadors were given a presentation on the ORF Report on India’s non-traditional security threats, titled “Navigating the Near” by Samir Saran, Vice President, Observer Research Foundation. This study was done by ORF for the Integrated Defence Staff, the Ministry of Defence.

Chairing the meeting, M. Rasgotra, a former Foreign Secretary and now President of the ORF Centre for International Relations, said Latin American countries enjoyed good sentiments in India. He said India would be keen to have mutually beneficial cooperation with them. Former Foreign Secretary K. Raghunath and ORF Director Sunjoy Joshi also took part in the meeting.

Column in The Economic Times: When the US dismembered Pakistan, 2009

by Samir Saran
February 27,2009
in: The Economic Times

The formal capitulation of the Pakistani government to the Taliban and the ‘liberation’ of the Swat valley evoked divided responses from within the region and outside. While voices emanating from India are concerned with this dangerous development, the US foreign policy team has predictably hedged its position and has begun testing the ‘Good Taliban-Bad Taliban’ dictum. The division of Pakistan has unfortunately legitimised the rule and role of two institutions in the politics of Pakistan; its religious extremists and its army and can be seen as a consequence of the US engagement with Pakistan post 9/11. To understand this situation and the initial US response, we must deconstruct the ‘war on terror’ policy of the US and analyse one of its key components: the engagement of the US with its ally Gen Pervez Musharraf. This engagement was political as it had the effect of demoralising the democratic presence in Pakistan.

It was also sociological as it redefined the western understanding of Pakistan and altered the space and voice available to the moderates and liberals. This engagement was articulated by the ‘Us vs Them’ foreign policy of the US, a description of the age-old identity discourse between the ‘self’ and the ‘other’. The description of the Muslim as the ‘other’ by the west (‘self’) is an area of historical interest. Much of the discussion establishes the act of describing the Muslims, as a means by which the west (and its media) seeks to define, assimilate and control them and is a result of the urge to create the identity of the ‘other’ through its own interpretative prisms.

This process not only fails to comprehend the ‘other’ in their entirety but diminishes their significance in any engagement. This practice is a political tool that has been consistently deployed in the past. The ‘secular wars’ or colonising endeavours of the western world were represented as a ‘solemn duty’, and as a British parliamentarian of yore put it, as a burden of the white man to civilise the east. The boundaries of this orientalist discussion, post 9/11 have been redefined and comprise of two dominant narratives, that of ‘Islamophobia’ on the one hand and the ‘war on terror’ on the other. Islamophobia arises from a lack of understanding and tolerance of the ‘other’. The ‘war on terror’ rhetoric of the US extends the understanding of the ‘other’ to that of ‘evil’ and justifies violence and war as the preferred means of engagement.

In its effort to punish the ‘evildoers’ (al Qaida), the US needed to depend on a Muslim ‘other’. The Pakistan army and Musharraf became its key ally. Their complicity in supporting global terror networks and the fundamentalist regime in Afghanistan were well known. However, strategic compulsions made it necessary to have them on board. The co-option of a Muslim and a dictator – an ‘other’ twice over – was an interesting challenge for the Bush administration. While it required the administration to discount the evil that Musharraf represented, something it has consistently done in its engagement with Muslim despots and royalty, it had to more importantly sell this unholy alliance to its own people, who were reeling under the ferocity of the 9/11 attacks.

Ironically, it was the military credentials of Musharraf that helped the US to achieve this. It was perhaps the only institution in the Islamic state that could be understood by the west from within the “irrational religiosity” the country was imagined to be. The development of the ‘western’ identity for Musharraf involved constructing him as a ‘moderate Muslim’ who shared the aspirations and virtues of the west (‘self’) and thereafter, justifying support for his dictatorial credentials. Co-option was achieved by projecting desirable qualities readily understood as virtues by the US citizens as attributes of Musharraf. Articles in newspapers across the political spectrum constructed the identity of Musharraf as a moderate, secular and progressive leader with zero tolerance for terrorism. Images of Musharraf lovingly playing with his pet dog struck a chord with western audiences.

Alongside this aggrandisement of the dictator, Pakistan, its civil society, their social and religious practices were subject to reductive portrayal by the western media. The description of the political and religious elements of Pakistan society was constructed around terms like corrupt, weak, fanatics, violent and backward. Their protests were irrational and did not deserve considered response. Many times anti-US demonstrations in Pakistan were presented as expressions of religious extremism and barbarism that pervaded the Pakistani society and what the good General was fighting against. The army rule was thus projected as an important component of Pakistan’s stability and Musharraf as the saviour leading his people towards modernity and peace.

By doing so, a dictator with strong extreme Islamist credentials – the stereotypical ‘other’ – was now imagined as the western ‘self’ while his countrymen, including the moderate and liberal citizens, were reduced to an irrationality whose voices and rights could be ignored. This denial of space and voice to the democratic forces allowed the spectacular rise of the Taliban, who now claim to speak for the ‘other’ who do not wear the uniform.

Navigating the Near: Non-traditional Security Threats to India, 2022

Sunjoy Joshi, Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Wilson John, Lydia Powell and Samir Saran
19 April 2011

National Security is most often thought of in terms of political and military threats to the State-either from other States or geo-strategic alliances. Given such a framework, both the challenges as well as the responses have for long been viewed in terms of military force or coercive ability of the adversary.
Events unfolding in today’s highly networked and globalised economies show the futility, and danger, of relying on such a simplistic template. Threats to national security are today multi-dimensional and call for a deeper study and understanding of a wide variety of factors to create a credible and deterrent response mechanism.Navigating the Near seeks to bridge this paradigm shift by studying non-traditional threats facing contemporary India. The study, with its sight on the next decade, evaluates how traditional threats confronting India are likely to be influenced in large measure by a range of factors and trends, both external and internal, that have, till now, remained on the fringes of security studies.

Link to Observer Research Foundation website.