A Sudden Outburst of Common-sense

My belief in the Indian Judiciary is bolstered further. Though it took 8 years of litigation, in one swish of the hammer a repulsive and utterly ridiculous law(section 377 of IPC) has been read down. India has further reclaimed its original flavor, a Land of true equality, a Land of true freedom. India has shaken cleaner of years of domination by the narrow values of foreign culture.

We have matured a lot as a Nation, ready to set examples for others to follow.

Secularism of India

Existence of secularism in the fabric of a country's constitution is always indicative of an advanced culture and a logical coherence in the definition of a nation. India had adopted (forced!) a brand of secularism when her constitution was drafted 60 years back. But, the Indian brand of secularism is rather peculiar. It does not seek an equality by removing 'religion' as a factor while dealing with constitutional matters, rather it gives all religions equal opportunities. Though it sounds like a liberal idea, it is fraught with loopholes.

An absence of religion imparts more robustness to a constitution than an amalgamation. It leads to too many opposing opinions, most significantly on aspects that fundamentally differ among religions as they are practised and/or interpreted, as well as between religions and modern social culture. Every religion as practised possesses backdated, illogical and barbaric ideas. As a civilization progresses it is important to identify those malignant points and get rid of them. Unfortunately, there are a vast majority of practitioners or, as it is often put, "theists" who believe in the immutability of instructions, so much so that many of them rather indulge in practising a form of the religion that can even be as much as a few millennia old. Given the social impact of religions, this is rather devastating. It voids the progress human knowledge has made over this period of time. Failing to encompass the evolution of a mass conscience that has been achieved through rational reasoning and practical experience, is a serious folly of any set of social guidelines. Denial of truth is self-defeating.

The Indian constitution, through its penchant for 'equality', theoretically empowers such out-dated opinions with equal significance as the most modern sociological ones.

Revolution of the Mass

This fragment of engagement of my thoughts stemmed about two and a half years back. I got my new desktop at home, and rented Gharey Bairey, a Bengalee movie, directed by Satyajit Ray, based on Rabindranath Tagore's 1915 work that goes by the same name. It is set against the backdrop of the Swadeshi Movement, it posed a very novel question : Is a 'nation' ready for a revolution, even if it meant to be for/of the mass?

I had traditionally held the belief that Gandhi's methods were targeted towards the 'mass' and always had a broader appeal than the more aggressive alternative that existed for the junta. This was a reason, I, in all my naivety, thought of Gandhi as a public manipulator, who welded the public will for his own political agenda. Well this is another story that I reserve for a future occasion. But, this movie, drove an important point home : Could Gandhi truly rope in the broader 'Indian' public?

It leaves little doubt that he could do it more than all other leaders of India. But, there always remained a chunk whose feeble livelihood was in serious jeopardy by such "Bourgeois" ideas. There were people who found it easier to live off Manchester than native (cottage) industrial production. The primary point of dissent was the issue of taking down a fence without the provisions of a substitution. This was Tagore's most important criticism against such mass movements. In any case, Gandhi pressed on with his ideas, and he did have non-trivial impact on the psyche of both his countrymen as well as the Englishmen. But, at no instance did any of his movements become a complete success, nor did post 1947 India adopt his ideas of industry and economy.

Probably none of the mass revolutions in the history of the world bear any resemblance to Tagore's ideas, which naturally implies the impracticability of the Utopian ideals of a poet. But, then why do we still dream of a day when the oppressed shall rise against the oppressor and beget a revolution of the mass? Can there really be a phenomenon that is true to the phrase? 

                                                                  to be continued...

Weapons of Future?

Einstein had once remarked that "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

I had often wondered about the nature of a third world war. Gedanken experiments, given the constraints of world politics, is an interesting activity. Over the years it has been becoming increasingly clear, that conventional warfare, such that we have known so far, has a good chance of becoming obsolete. The nuclear proliferation and illegal nuclear dealings, have made it increasingly difficult to bully economically younger nations. After the fiasco of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it has also become evident that, no nation can afford to take nuclear threats lightly.
Given the recent spat of nuclear armaments, it'll remain a complicated matter to pull in a bunch of nations to fight each other, without invoking nuclear threats. Also, I would expect, the collective wisdom will prevent such a situation from developing. Thus we can safely assume, discounting absolute lunacy, that soon the world will experience a rather uncomfortable stalemate.
But, it doesn't imply that humanity has reached a perfect Nash equilibrium. Over the past decade, in quite a benign form, another form of warfare has been coming of age, slowly maturing into deadlier form. Its innocuous demeanor has attracted little attention from policy makers, but it holds considerable promise of being the prominent weapon of the next big war, if not a World War.

Sophistication invites loopholes. They are intimately married. With each sunrise, technological progress is driving mankind towards a more comfortable, but increasingly dependent life. In the West, Canada for example, the overwhelming dependence on electricity has worried me since the day I set foot here. Though I must concede to the fact that this submission has made life extremely comfortable by world standards, it poses a dangerous threat. Likewise, at a more global scale, there has been a escalating growth of computerization. It is a term that loosely implies some kind of automation and (not necessarily) efficiency achieved through the usage of computers as nodes in a network. One major example is the internet. It is a fact that internet has seeped much deeper into the daily life of every man than we will find comfortable to accept. It is entwined in a range of direct and indirect ways with every step, most of us take. Therefore, it is apt to invest significant thoughts and resources to analyze its (intended) impact and how it can be exploited.

The impact is relatively easy to find out. The exploitation is what escapes the eye. Over the last five years there has been an increasingly high number of incidents where bugs in the security of networks has been exploited and unsuspecting users and benefactors have been presented with rather malicious codes. They are popularly known as viruses or, worms. While most of them do not have catastrophic effects, some do. But, this is not what I'm most worried about.
There has been a rather different kind of exploitation that has been regularly practiced, but has often passed public eye, because these are more organized attempts and they are not concerned with 'infecting' personal computers. One such incident occurred when a retaliation was in order, after an US spy plane allegedly shot down a Chinese aircraft, killing its pilot. Apparently certain group of hackers, based in PRC, attacked US government websites, squeezing in misleading information and impregnating outgoing emails with viruses. Reports such as these are plenty, but confirmations are rare. There has also been menacing incidents where servers of the Pentagon has been loaded with terabytes of junk, just to slow them down or, to outright crash them. There has been arrests made when these same servers, on another occasion, was used to store pirated movies and softwares that ran into terabytes.

The concern here is not these pranks or, mudslingings. There is a graver issue at hand, when political discords had been avenged by ruthless cyber attacks on both civilian as well as military network infrastructures. Incidents such has these have become more numerous in the last five years and they are growing both in number and impact. Serious concerns exist over the security of networks that has been spared thus far, but there are known issues of a large number of foreign bots existing in servers native to the concerned networks. These bots are not viruses or, malicious codes per se, but they might have been coded to take up arms against the networks they are gestating in, when triggered by their masters. Such a scenario is not remote, least of all being science fiction.
Its not difficult to imagine a situation when such bots, coupled with active attacks can throw a whole nation in disarray, including its satellites and dangerous weapons. Virtually, it is possible to make two unsuspecting nations go to war, for no fault of their own. It is possible to exterminate a nation from within, with its own devices of development and defense. And, it is possible to assimilate a powerful offensive even without stockpiling thousands of nuclear warheads.

There is an urgent need to enfold network security into the cusps of national and territorial security. Though its a vastly different world and it is difficult to man these 'virtual' territories, there is always an option of developing a powerful defense mechanism: harboring and fostering homegrown hackers.
In the present context its imperative that the monopoly of the Spartan value of individuals to national defense is over. This is an age where couch-loving, rodent like, unhealthy coders are as important to national defense as are the herculean gentlemen in the battlefield. We as a people should get over the age old notion of Defense that comprises of nuclear warheads, missiles, battleships, guns and diplomacy and start to envision Defense as a two pronged fork comprised of the traditional, rather 'real' part and a 'virtual' cyber part. The Defense of a modern nation is complete only when it has gained equal efficiency and potency in both these components.