by the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
All countries spy on their citizens but all countries do not get caught spying on their citizens. Pegasus is one such scenario where the Indian government is being accused of snooping on opposition figures, journalists, a Supreme Court judge, and other figures who don’t always agree with the government. Government, like in many past situations, is in an uncomfortable position where it’s not sure how to respond.
Spying in itself is not wrong, we pry on other countries’ citizens and on our own, our enemies do it too and espionage is an important tool of statecraft but this tool can be misused too. In the hands of a government that holds absolute power without any significant checks and balances, there is always a possibility that those who dissent may be watched rather too closely. So if you are one such government, the worst thing that can happen to you is being caught in the act. Relying on foreign resources to conduct intelligence gathering on any individual is a very bad move in intelligence, there is always a scenario where someone who knows your secrets and is outside of your influence, will either talk or leak the information. And that is exactly what happened in this scenario.
Moreover, spying on someone who is not a national security threat is a mere wastage of resources. In a democracy, you remain in power by the virtue of your work, if you do a good job in managing the country well, sustaining the development, and boosting the economy, you need not worry about what your critics are saying about you. Running a country just like waging war is an art, not everyone is good at it.
Until there is a fair inquiry into the matter we will not know if the Indian government actually used the spyware against its citizens but if it does not order an independent judicial inquiry, the government will run the risk of ruining its position further. Prominent Indian citizens getting spied upon and the government remaining silent is a very problematic precedent. If BJP ever finds itself out of power and in the uncomfortable sights of the government spy agencies then it should buy itself the proverbial umbrella for that rainy day. Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you; Confucius it seems had more foresight than people in power.
In a democracy, to be seen doing the right thing is as important as doing the right thing.