Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wiki leaks and Babel like World Events

The world witnessed triple tragedies unfolding in Japan since March 11-once in 300 years 9.2 Richter scale earthquake in eastern coast , resultant devastating Tsunami causing 10000 + deaths and unprecedented miseries of people and destruction as high as of 300 billion $, and worst of all-the huge nuclear crisis due to problems in 6 nuclear reactors of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant-raising major issues of  hazards of nuclear power.
India and specially Indian Parliament was last week rocked by publication of diplomatic cable-part of Wiki-leaks expose-in Hindu newspaper reviving the contentious “cash for vote” controversy of July 2008, when on the issue of Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement, Left front withdrew support from United Progressive Alliance government led by PM Manmohan Singh questioning the desirability of nuclear power having potential hazards. The bribery allegations of opposition party BJP brought out by sting operation were enquired by a parliamentary committee appointed by Speaker of Loksabha concluded that allegations are not substantiated due to insufficient evidence. According to Wiki-Leaks, the then US charge d'affaires in India, Peter Burleigh, in a cable, conveyed to State department in Washington claimed that payoffs had been made to MPs to ensure a majority for the Congress-led government in the confidence vote and he referring to what is seen in India, the boast of a political nonentity Nachiketa kapur.The aftershock is still being felt, especially after the hour long interview of Julian Assange, the founder-editor of the whistle-blower website by prominent news channel NDTV.
The third relatively unnoticed event is the abrupt resignation of   P.J. Crowley, resigning   as State Department spokesman over his controversial comments he made about the Bradley Manning case. Now, who is Bradley Manning? He is the 23 year US army private, who is being held in solitary confinement in the prison of Quantico, Virginia and facing serious charges of leaking  highly classified state department cables and other data to Julian Assange of Wiki-leaks who then shared it with the world.
These three events apparently look unconnected but they ironically remind me“Babel” like narrative- one of the most intriguing film-Babel (2006) directed by Alejandro Gonz├ílez Inaritu, acclaimed worldwide and won Golden Globe award, had three stories of a Mexican couple, a Moroccan village boy and a teen of Uptown Tokyo apparently had no interconnection but they are shown to be beautifully intertwined with each other with post 9/11 US providing a common thread.
In this case , the thread is wiki-leak and nuclear power , both getting interconnected in the Indian story, provide the intertwining thread. We studied about Wiki in our course before spring break. Wiki is a website that allows the user generated content   creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified mark up language. Is wiki leak truly a Wiki? Probably not. Users can not generate content in this websites, which has primarily become a controversial “whistle blowing” sites? The methods in which wiki leaks access classified documents is hotly debated issue. Is it the right use of social media? Is new technology becoming powerful  with stunning expose? What are the consequences on government’s approach to openness and freedom of Information acts? The issues need to be debated.



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