Few decades ago in India, a majority of Indians were illiterate.  Only a few who had the ability to read and write would control and manipulate others.  In one of the villages in the South, there lived a rich zamindar (landlord) who was able to read and write English and Tamil.  He used to receive letters and would reply them.  Many in that village and neighbouring village would come to him for reading their mails (from relatives, government etc) and also replying to them.  The man became old and died. 

Unfortunately, his children were not interested in any of his ‘literary’ activities.  They gathered all his files, letters, and books and threw them away.  In that village, there were two young boys, who had learnt to read and write saw that rubbish as treasure of wealth.  They quietly shifted the whole to their house and started reading them carefully.  As they read, they could access information about the estate, disputes between some big farmers in the nearby villages, information about unethical behaviours of rich and influential men in the villages, immoral and extra-marital affairs.  They thought it was enough for them to black mail and exploit the hapless illiterate victims and become rich.  Gradually, they leaked information, gained control of situation and started gathering wealth.  However, it did not last long as they were hacked to death by one of the aggrieved villager.

Wiki Leaks

A similar story is enacted again in a sophisticated way in the modern times.  The media provides daily dose of Wiki leaks, its interpretation and its imaginary impact.  For the media, it is sensational and hot selling.  Overnight, Julian Assange an Australian journalist and an Internet activist becomes a global celebrity.  Like the two village young men, he wanted to use the unethically gained knowledge for his personal profit.

For the past five years or so, he was providing a variety of information for the global Internet audience.  Later on, he started leaking cables of diplomats sent to White House.  When he challenged the might of ‘Goliath’ America, Assange became the ‘David’ the hero for Postmodern youngsters who lack role models and heroes.  Attacking institutions, questioning authorities, and challenging establishment are their favourite pastime of the Digital Generation.  Julian Assange’s modus operandi, intention or motives is a suspect but not questioned by the gullible sensation hungry audience.

Status of Gossips

Wiki leaks of the cables are transcript of conversations or exchange of information among diplomats, military officials and politicians.  Conversations would be generally casual and ‘off record’.  For sure, ‘un-diplomatic’ and ‘un-parliamentary’ words would have been used.  Most of the conversations among the ruling class around the world is filled with arrogance, pride, and filthy vocabulary.  If these words are taken at its face value, there could be only chaos.

Private Domain to Public Domain

Conversations within a group have to be in the exclusively private domain and should not be revealed or exposed in the public domain.  Such conversations could be decision making process within a group, that cannot be questioned by an outsider.  However, conversation between two parties in the process of contract or agreement or treaty or negotiations could be brought to public domain with the consent of both parties.  Freedom of press does not mean that all private conversations could be made public.  How can intimate conversations within a family or a couple be questioned unless there is abuse?  Will freedom of press demand exposure of even the thinking process of people?

Intention of Julian Assange

It is not clear what the intention of Assange was.  Knowledge has to be used with a purpose of building up nations, bring out peace among nations and progress for the global community.  If the knowledge could not be put into profitable use, that knowledge could be left to die a natural death.  Unfortunately, Assange used his access to knowledge for creating confusion, chaos, diplomatic turmoil, and bitter taste.

Nevertheless, Assange used the information he gained to boost and massage his already inflated ego, gain popularity among the Internet users and anti-establishment activists from around the world.  No wonder, he has attained celebrity status without any positive contribution in any sphere.  It is unfortunate that media made him hero;  politicians started picking up phrases, bits and pieces to assault their opponents and numerous Internet users started blogging endlessly.

Unethical Hacking

The information that is being leaked was gained unethically.  Assange’s technological knowledge was misused rather abused.  It is an act of espionage.  Technically speaking, spying an enemy nation is considered patriotic act.  However, this spying is not for the sake of mother land, but with selfish motives.

Responsible Journalism

Activism in Internet, Citizen Journalism and investigative journalism are good to discover the truth.  However, this freedom cannot be misused for personal gain or to black mail people or create confusion and unrest among people and nations but justice and peace.  Unfortunately, the effect of Wiki Leaks has created bad blood among nations.  Freedom has to be tempered with responsibility.  Unfettered freedom is a myth, as freedom is always limited by parameters.

Who Would Gain?

A million dollar question is who is gaining out of this whole episode?  Who are the beneficiaries?  Is Julian Assange is just a tool in their hands?  Or he is self-proclaimed celebrity of cyber world?  Wiki leaks have become wicked leaks with malicious intention against the whole world.

Dr. J.N. Manokaran