Eternal Vigilance is……..!

The oft-quoted saying “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty!” has been attributed to several people across the ages; who used these words first is irrelevant. The truth of the matter is that in India, the world’s largest democracy, these immortal words not only carry great weight today but also hold a direction for all Indians.

Yesterday (September 22nd) banner headlines in several of the major newspapers across the country screamed, ‘Deleting Whatsapp, FB, Viber chats could be made illegal!’, ‘Centre mulls controls on instant messaging apps!’, ‘Save your Whatsapp messages, govt wants to play peeping Tom!’ and so on, as the Central Government (through a Committee) introduced yet another proposal which not only infringed but also grossly violated a fundamental right of the Indian citizen.

The proposal (a draft policy on internet security) sought to strengthen the Government control over private data; one of the points stated that “instant messaging, apps (like ‘Whatsapp’) users will have to keep their communications for 90 days and should be able to produce them if asked by the authorities”. It was certainly a blatant attempt to gag social media and freedom of speech! That such a proposal was even contemplated (even if it was in a draft) would have made the thinking citizen wonder whether “the dark times” have already arrived in the country!

Very naturally, there was a huge outcry! Social media reacted strongly to the proposal. Several newspapers carried their ‘point of view’ on the subject and several noteworthy editorials. The Opposition parties compared it with the “Gujarat snooping model” which has now become a symbol of how a Government interferes in the private lives of its citizens. The Government was surely not expecting such a backlash and had to beat a hasty retreat! By noon yesterday, the Telecom and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in his typical pompous manner sought to ‘distance’ the Government from the draft policy – calling the massive protests as “uncalled-for misgivings” and that he had asked those who had prepared the draft to withdraw it.

But no one is being fooled! At most, the withdrawal by the Government is but a “temporary” or a “pyrrhic” victory. The Government is adept at testing the waters and see in how many ways they can actually mainstream the ideology of its parent body the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The key ideologue of the RSS, MS Golwalkar (the second Sarsanghchalak) who in two of his significant works ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ and ‘We or our Nationhood defined’ makes it clear what their core ideology is all about; this includes the denouncement of the Constitution of India, the upholding of the ‘Manusmriti’ code; the negation of basic democratic principles and above all the treatment of minorities as second-class citizens. Given the fact that several important Ministers of the present Government had to pay obeisance and to report to the RSS top brass recently is a clear proof that it is the RSS that is calling the shots in the country today.

Since May 2014, there have been several efforts by the Sangh Parivar and their ilk to tamper with, manipulate and intervene in almost every aspect of life of the ordinary citizen. The Government has entered the private domain of what people should eat and wear, what films they should see and whether or not an Indian girl can even be out late at night! The “ban” culture reigns supreme as “majoritarianism” slowly gains a stronghold. Media to a great extent is muzzled as never before!

The way the education system of our country is being mauled makes one squirm; the students today are fed with a syllabi which is loaded with myths, superstitions, half-truths, discriminatory attitudes and everything else which hardly befits a nation which desperately seeks to find a niche as a global player. A few days ago, the Government admitted that it was planning to introduce lessons from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Gita in the curriculum of schools and colleges. It is unbelievable that people without the necessary academic qualifications and competence are now made directors of reputed institutes of learning and even Vice Chancellors! All part of a strategy to nationalise education in the country!

The ‘Ghar wapsi’ programmes is surely a clever ploy to usher in a nation-wide anti-conversion law; social analysts regard the ‘Patidar’s stir’ in Gujarat in tune with a key desire of the RSS to do away with reservations in order to continue their hegemony over the lower castes in India. Recently, the RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat has said unequivocally that ‘reservations need to be done away with’. The denigration of minorities include the attacks on Churches and Christians and the renaming of roads with Muslim names.

The impunity by which another affiliate of the Sangh Parivar, the ‘Sanathan Sanstha’ has murdered intellectuals and rationalists like Govind Pansare also demonstrates that those who stand up for what is right will be severely dealt with. The murders of other rationalists like Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Dr. MM. Kalburgi also point to this group; as expected, no Government official has condemned these dastardly acts. Human Rights Defenders, RTI activists, whistleblowers and other civil society members – who fight for truth and justice, continue to be the targets of vicious attacks.

One certainly has to toast the many who from every walk of life have had the courage to take a stand against what is happening in the country today; however, when one looks at the broader picture there seems to be no groundswell of protest; no visionary political leadership which can contain the heap of violations, abuses and injustices to which the common man and woman of India is subjected to today.

The agenda of the right-wing forces is there for all to see. Now that they are in power, they are certainly not going to stop mainstreaming their bunch of thoughts and of redefining nationhood. There is no doubt that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty and more so, the Indian citizens will have to remember the words of Edmund Burke the eighteenth century Jesuit-educated Anglo-Irish statesman who said “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing!”


(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)


  1. ““the dark times” have already arrived in the country!” screams ‘black-friday’ Fr. Cedrick Prakaasha.

    In principle, I am fully against state agencies snooping on citizens. I am also opposed to any move by govt to control, limit and monitor personal, private communications between individuals. I hold these views irrespective of who is in power – be it BJP, Congress or whoever!! Unfortunately, we can’t say the same thing about the author who has repeatedly shown his failure to be impartial in his analysis. He talks about showing moral courage and importance of doing right things to fight evil. I have a simple question for him – Did he oppose certain groups who bullied the entire media and country into not publishing cartoons of a religious figure??

    • In principle, I am fully against state agencies snooping on citizens. I am also opposed to any move by govt to control, limit and monitor personal, private communications between individuals. I hold these views irrespective of who is in power – be it BJP, Congress or whoever!!

      RSS Paimaam, why then your alter ego snoop on the poor landscaping Sindhi girl from Bangalore, who was appointed to landscape Gujarat?

      • Sharia law follower Pincode Pai should realize that I am opposed to ALL illegal snooping or spying done by state. It doesn’t matter who or which party did it. I don’t think he will ever understand how intellectually consistent I am when it comes to policy debates. It takes honesty to admit these things and Pincode Pai has zero honesty and therefore zero credibility!!

        • RSS Paimaam : “It takes honesty to admit these things and Pincode Pai has zero honesty and therefore zero credibility!!”

          Sir, when I asked you a question on your surmises, you have evaded the question by questioning my “honesty and credibility”!


  2. I am also opposed to any move by govt to control, limit and monitor personal, private communications between individuals. -Atheist Mr.Original pai

    Dear readers,

    To his supporters, who pooh-pooh any criticism of this government asserting that “It also happened under Congress rule” the whole point of changing the guard was to usher in a new administrative era that was efficient, corruption-free, and economy-centric. What we have got instead, at least till now, is empty symbolism and social and religious paternalism. It behooves us as concerned citizens and Indians abroad to make very sure that the Emperor’s new clothes are indeed real.
    Tweets, photo ops, and clever slogans cannot bring about the change India needs. If Mr. Modi wishes to be the transformative leader that Indians gave him a mandate for, he must back up his inspiring rhetoric with action. He needs to fill the ranks of government with talented administrators, pledge to openness and transparency in government affairs, and unreservedly condemn and sideline the communalist forces among his allies.
    Indians have been incredibly patient and forgiving of an undeserving, corrupt, incompetent and shameless political class that has consistently failed them for far too long. It is time to do right by them, Prime Minister Modi.

    It is not only dark days ahead a free speech is also in question.

    Jai Hind

    • Sharia Shaikh,
      As usual, you make no sense. Why are you making it all about one individual? If you are for free speech, you are also for publishing cartoons of a religious figure, right? How come you won’t answer this simple question? smiles…

      • If you are for free speech, you are also for publishing cartoons of a religious figure, right? – Rampa to Mr. Shaikh

        Well, I simply can’t understand your fixation with “cartoons” of certain figures. But then, i see ONLY 1 way out of this morass that you find yourself in.

        Pick up a pencil/pen…. sketch some cartoons…. that is ASSUMING you can draw a straight line STRAIGHT and a curved line – curved! Send them to Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, McGraw-Hill, Penguin etc. Else, LOOK for Rupert Murdoch or Ben Carson.. even Bill Maher will do. If NOBODY publishes them, well… your fav site youtube should. And then, sit back and ENJOY your ‘blunderful’ piece of ‘art’! 🙂 And I dare say that you will find PEACE. 🙂

        Kalas! Baat katam hui na, Rampa? So, WHY on earth keep driving yourself hoarse day after day and year after year?

        • “pencil…pen…straight…curved…murdoch…Carson” – These are the incoherent thoughts of a joker who continues to stay relevant in areas where he is clearly not qualified!! LOL

          I’m not quite sure why you try to comment on a subject when you don’t even have the basic understanding of ‘cartoon’ controversy!! I tried to make it simple for you by asking very specific question. You still seem to embarrass yourself. Let me repeat my ‘simple’ question again – Can you name the Indian news papers or media outlets who published the controversial cartoons of a religious figure? smiles…

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