Opinion

View from the right data fed protests

View from the right data fed protests
Protesters against the new citizenship law at Park Circus Maidan in Kolkata on Wednesday. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

Close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting that the nation reduce screen time, the latest issue of Organiser, the RSS mouthpiece in English, has focused on data and the socio-political threats from it. In an editorial, Organiser has described protests as a new war thrust on the nation where data is the weapon.

“Take for instance the normal-looking protests, either in the name of caste or religion or language. Many of them are faceless and most of them effectively use social media tools to mobilise people. Some of them also find support and momentum from a foreign land. Some are believed to have originated from other countries. This new-age war is forced on us without firing a bullet or sending a soldier. The weapon in this war is ‘Data’,” says the signed editorial by Prafulla Ketkarm, editor of the magazine. Making a direct reference to the anti-CAA and NRC protests, the editorial has indicated that the protestors have been manipulated by data.

“The ability to think and choose between good and bad is supposed to be the most distinguishing feature of the ‘humanist’ ‘modern’ world which has been incapacitated with various gadgets. These types of equipment certainly make our lives easy but simultaneously create different kinds of disabilities, while dehumanising us. While doing so, what they generate at every click on a mobile or notepad is data. Now without your knowledge, this data is being used to shape your thinking, influence your choices and channelise your social and political behaviour. The ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act is a classic case of using data and data-based technology to manipulate our societal behaviour,” the editorial said.

JNU is right

The latest issue of Organiser has, once again, given space to the JNU protests and the political standoff between the Left and ABVP. In an article suggesting that the Left had been unfairly dominating JNU politics, ABVP joint general secretary Sriniwas has said, “First of all, it should be understood that JNU has 8,000 students, out of which only 1,000 students are active in leftist organisations and about an additional 1,000 students support them in elections. Except for these 2,000 students, the remaining are non-leftist. A good number of these students do openly support the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which is the largest single organisation on campus. Given the scenario, if a leftist uses the JNU as a platform to speak against the nation and its culture, it can’t be considered as the view of the whole of the JNU.”

The article has argued that frequent clashes happen in JNU because Left follows an unaccommodating ideology: “Communism can’t tolerate disagreements and the presence of other ideologies by its very design. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Leftists consider JNU as an ‘inviolable republic’ of their ideological monopoly”.

AI, the Future

In another article, written by G B Reddy, Organiser has laid emphasis on developing robust Artificial Intelligence capabilities in India, lest it stays behind in the next tech revolution. “The development of AI has the potential to fundamentally transform civilian and military life in the coming decades. Consequently, AI will be a driver and structural force reshaping the global order. Are we ready for this tectonic shift in the strategic sphere?” the article asks.

It argues that India is emerging as the hub of digital skills but was a laggard in AI. It says that while the Modi government has taken some initiatives, there was a need to think big and take bolder decisions. In fact, the article laments how the government, till now, has not even formalised a policy for AI development and that “the pace of innovation around establishing a comprehensive AI strategy for the future isn’t comparable to America or China today”.

It has urged the government to increase funding for AI development as it is very low compared to the US and China. The article has asked the government to ensure the best brains do not leave the country. For this, it has suggested the payment of higher salaries so that India does not remain just a cheap destination for technology development.

Compiled by Deeptiman Tiwary