The Asian Age – Big technology firms should be stopped from turning the world into a China, Noam Chomsky says

He is referring to China’s social credit system that tracks citizens to award/deduct points on a score determining one’s access to services.

New York – State of New York, 25 May 2020. The role of technology in helping push back against the novel coronavirus has been hailed widely. But it also means that people are constantly being watched by entities that can set the tone for public behaviour without giving a shred of consideration to people’s privacy.

One of the greatest contemporary thinkers, Noam Chomsky, warns of the consequences of technology being allowed to control our lives in the guise of making our lives easier.

In an interview with AFP, Chomsky talked about how the dystopian reality of digital surveillance is already here. “There are now companies developing technology which make it possible for the employer to look at what’s on your computer screen and to check your keystrokes and if you get up and walk away for a minute, they’ll send you a warning.”

“That’s being installed right now, It’s not the future.”

The very things that are convenient are the ones that are invasive, he pointed out. “The so-called Internet of Things is coming along. It’s convenient.

It means if you’re driving home you can turn on the stove, but it also means that that information is going to Google and Facebook, to the government, the American government, the French government, it’s an enormous amount of potential control, surveillance and invasion. But this has happened. It’s not the future.

“If we allow the huge tech companies, the state, to control our life that’s what will happen. They’ll turn it into something like China, where you have social credit systems and in some cities you get a certain amount of credits, there’s face recognition technology all over the place and everything you do gets monitored.

“If you cross the street in the wrong place, you can lose some credits, and so on. “It’s not inevitable, just like global warming, that it’s going to happen, unless people stop it.”

When asked whether the use of surveillance was justified in combating COVID-19, said “It might be, during the period of threat. There’s controls needed during wartime, you have rationing. But it doesn’t have to be permanent. ‘Yes, we’ll let you have this authority now, but it can be revoked at any time.'”

Speaking about other major problems facing humankind, Chomsky said global warming was a greater threat than even the deadly pandemic. “As severe as this pandemic is, it’s not the worst problem.

There will be recovery from the pandemic at severe cost, but there isn’t going to be any recovery from the melting of the polar ice caps and the rising of sea levels and the other deleterious effects of global warming,” he said.

However, it is evident that the public is either not aware or not bothered to see global warming as a serious enough problem.

That kind of a public in the US also voted for a leadership that has proven itself wholly unequal to the task of managing the pandemic in the country where more than 100,000 people have died of it . “There’s no coherent leadership. It’s chaotic.

The presidency, the White House, is in the hands of a sociopathic megalomaniac who’s interested in nothing but his own power, electoral prospects, doesn’t care what happens to the country, the world,” Chomsky said, in scathing criticism of President Donald Trump.

Chomsky spelled out how the administration under Trump never even gave the US a chance against COVID-19. “As soon as Trump came in, his first move was to dismantle the entire pandemic prevention machinery.

At the start, defunding the Center for Disease Control, which would deal with this. And canceling programs that were working with Chinese scientists to identify potential viruses. So the US was singularly unprepared,” Chomsky said.

He explained the economic model that led to the current situation. “It’s a privatised society, very wealthy, with enormous advantages, far more than any other country, but it’s in the stranglehold of private control.

“It doesn’t have a universal health care system. It’s the ultimate neoliberal system, actually.”

He compared it to Europe, which in “many ways is worse, because the austerity programs just amplify the danger, because of the severe attack on democracy in Europe, the shifting decisions to Brussels.”

But he added, “At least it has the residue of some kind of social democratic structure, which provides some support, which is what I think is lacking in the US.”

https://www.asianage.com/technology/in-other-news/250520/big-technology-firms-should-be-stopped-from-turning-the-world-into-a-china-noam-chomsky-says.html

The Statesman – Tibetans urge Narendra Modi to take up issue of Tibet with Xi Jinping

The National Convener of Core Group for Tibetan Cause, RK Khrimey said the unresolved question of Tibet is a matter of great concern not only to the Tibetans in their homeland and in exile but also to India and rest of the world.

Shimla – Himachal Pradesh – India, 10 October 2019. The Core Group for Tibetan Cause on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take up the issue of Tibet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the informal summit at Mamallapuram near Chennai on 11 and 12 October.

The National Convener of Core Group for Tibetan Cause, RK Khrimey said the unresolved question of Tibet is a matter of great concern not only to the Tibetans in their homeland and in exile but also to India and rest of the world.

“Unfortunate self-immolation by over 153 Tibetans inside Tibet since 2009 is a clear indication of the gravity of human rights situation in Tibet under Chinese rule,” he said, adding Chinese government must take steps to improve the human rights situation.

He said the Chinese government must immediately stop the religious and cultural repression in Tibet.

Further, the dialogue between representatives of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and the People’s Republic of China which has been suspended since 2010, should be resumed as soon as possible without further delay.

“We would like to request to build pressure upon the Chinese authorities to stop disturbing the fragile ecology of the Tibetan plateau by bringing together all the riparian states affected by such activities,” he added.

Khrimey said PM Modi has not only brought a transformation of the plight of Indian community but created a new dimension from India to Bharat.

He said having stated this, while initiating the dialogue with Xi Jinping, Modi must also take up the issue of Tibetan students who have been living and pursuing their studies in Tibet.

The students have been unnecessarily put on house arrest, blockading their usual movement and unnecessarily questioned their motives and aspiration, he said, adding the arrested students must be released immediately.

“The Constitution of India ensures us the right to protest against the injustices prevailing hitherto despite any indulgence of political and social powers. The same rights are equally applied to Tibetans as well.

Over 60 years of their existence in India as a refugee, the successive Indian government has never crushed their voices but we are tortured for protest in the street against injustices impinged upon Tibetans inside Tibet by Chinese government,” he added.

Tibetans urge Narendra Modi to take up issue of Tibet with Xi Jinping

538. Man in Blue – If Narendra Modi becomes the Prime Minister of India International Relations

Before tackling the subject I want to introduce two assumptions.

Assumption 1: The BJP after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections will either have a majority of the seats in the Lok Sabha or will be near to having such a majority.

If the BJP is the biggest single party but depends on the support of a number of smaller parties to form a government, it will not be able to implement its nationalistic and Hindu supremacist programme.

Supposition 2: Narendra Modi as PM will be like Narendra Modi the Gujarat CM, and will follow a nationalistic and Hindu supremacist programme.

His record in Gujarat worries us greatly, and many of his statements and posturing in the campaign confirm our worries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and international relations

India has problematic relations with Pakistan, China, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Deterioration of the already problematic relations with Pakistan will have a negative effect on India’s relation with many other countries in the world.

I will tackle India’s relations with Pakistan first.

Pakistan

Pakistan’s civilian governments were never in control of the security forces, and its various security forces do not always sing from the same hymn sheet either.

In India the government has more control over the security forces, but border incidents along the international border or along the ‘Line of Control’ between the Pakistan and Indian controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir are not necessarily always reported correctly to Delhi.

Jammu and Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority and is adjacent to other Muslim majority parts of pre-partition India, should have been part of Pakistan from 1947 going by the partition agreement. What the majority of the population of Jammu & Kashmir want is another matter. For many ‘Azad Kashmir’ should be an independent state and not a part of Pakistan.

Even ‘moderate’ Indian and Pakistani governments have taken positions on Jammu and Kashmir that make compromise near impossible. Just to maintain ‘status quo’ needs governments that practice a lot of self-restraint and are willing not to get provoked by incidents between the security forces of both countries or between Indian forces and ‘militants’.

With Narendra Modi at the helm an already fraught situation is bound to get worse. Going by newspaper reports the BJP has always been more stridently anti-Pakistan than the Congress led UPA government.

Politically aware people on both sides of the border are worried about another India – Pakistan war fought in the planes of Punjab, this time between two nuclear armed opponents.

There are two areas where the India – Pakistan border or the Line of Control has not been clearly defined.

Sir Creek is a 60 mile strip of water disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands on the border between Sindh and Gujarat. Pakistan claims that the line follows the eastern shore of the estuary while India claims a centre line.

In the Karakoram Mountains in the Himalayas are located the Siachen Glacier and the Saltoro Mountains, where there is disagreement over the location of the LoC.

These disputed territories are of no great economic value, but in spite of that it is very difficult to get both parties around the table and agree on a compromise.

China

There are areas of Pakistan controlled Jammu and Kashmir which have been ceded to China, causing unhappiness in India. The border between India and China in Ladakh (Jammu & Kashmir) is disputed and there are Chinese claims on parts of or all of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

The Chinese government is aggressively nationalistic and claims territories all around it, including large parts of the surrounding seas and islands therein.

PM Manmohan Singh and External Affairs minister Salman Khurshid have been handling recent incidents in Ladakh and visa problems for people from Arunachal Pradesh diplomatically, firmly insisting on India’s version of the border without indulging in non-diplomatic shouting matches.

There has only been one India – Chinese war so far, and both parties would be mad to indulge in another, but if either party feels that its honour requires military action, even if it is meant to be a limited one, things could easily get out of hand.

And Mr Modi and organisations like the RSS and the Bajrang Dal are not known for subtle approaches and self-restraint.

Bangladesh

There are border issues between the two countries, but I feel that the complicated relation between the two countries is mostly based on the Indian intervention in the East – West Pakistan conflict. Without the help of India the struggle for independence would have lasted much longer, but it is not easy to accept big brothers help.

There are additional problems about river waters, about the treatment of Hindus in Bangladesh and about illegal immigrants from Bangladesh settling in neighbouring India states like Assam.

The Shiv Sena, a Maharashtra party to the right of the BJP, claims that all Bengali speakers in Mumbai are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and wants to return them to that country.

There are serious issues between the two countries and the chances are that a Modi government, encouraged by the Trinamol Congress in West Bengal, will not improve matters.

But it seems unlikely that the existing tensions will erupt into an armed conflict.

Sri Lanka

What we are facing here is an equation between the Delhi government, the Tamils from Tamil Nadu, the Tamils from Sri Lanka, specifically those from the north-east of the island and the Colombo government.

The central governments in Delhi and Colombo have both a record of centralising tendencies, and opposition to movements that emphasise local cultures and local autonomy.

Since Congress lost its overall majority in the Lok Sabha India has been governed by coalitions that usually include parties from Tamil Nadu. These parties have supported the efforts of Sri Lanka Tamils to have more political and cultural autonomy.

Tamils speak a Dravidian language and are mostly Hindus. The majority of the Sri Lankans speak Sinhalese (an Indo-Germanic language like Hindi, Punjabi or Urdu) and are Buddhists, while the majority of the Indians speak Indo-Germanic languages and are Hindus.

Rajiv Gandhi sent an Indian Peace Keeping Force into Sri Lanka and changed from peacekeeping to fighting the Tamil Tigers, which led to his assassination in 1991.

At the moment the UPA government is forced by the Tamil Nadu political parties to be highly critical of the treatment of Tamils after Sri Lanka won the civil war against the Tamil Tigers.

What Narendra Modi and the BJP will make out of this is hard to predict. Will they go with the fellow Indo-Germanics who are mostly Buddhists, or with the mostly Hindu Dravidians? And how will these choices work out domestically? As we have also said about the other issues discussed above, strident nationalism and Hindu supremacist attitudes will certainly not be helpful.