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My Labrador, named Phantom, is one of the friendliest beings around. Still, over the years, I’ve noticed that while he is quite comfortable being petted and fondled by most; he is distinctly displeased with some who come up to him, attempting to pet or fondle him. Without doubt, with some, Phantom prefers to reserve his space.
In the wild, with overwhelming varieties of life; it is easily noticeable that they don’t like intruders, particularly strangers, in territory that either they consider as their own or where the intruder or the stranger has approached rather too close. Sometimes the creature in question, such as say a bear or a herd of wild buffaloes or a pride of lions are prone to show their displeasure at such intrusion to their proximity by a display of aggression. But near all do show some reaction to such intrusion, either by moving away or by remonstrating through bodily behaviour.
Humans, too, as is noticed, do display similar attributes where they resent intrusion by others in such aspect.
In 1890, Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis, in their seminal article published in Harvard Law Review, tracing the rights to privacy under the common law of torts, argued for the right to privacy to be given a more clear and stronger pedestal under the law. The catchphrase by which they sought to define the right to privacy was “the right to be to let alone”; which phrase – a coining from Judge Thomas Cooley’s celebrated work on torts in 1880 – was to set the momentum to greater heed and regard to the right of privacy. United States Supreme Court benchmarked the right “to let alone” in its decision in “Union Pac. Ry. Co. V. Botsford”, 141 US 250, 251 (1891).
Over the years, the right to privacy has evolved and has been recognised as a basic human right. Article 12 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights provides that (1) “No one shall be subject to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation”; and that; (2) “Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights declares that (1) “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence”; and that (2) “There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the right and freedoms of others.”
A right to privacy is recognised under the constitutional law of a large number of countries as a basic human right. In India, the Supreme Court has recognised the right to privacy as a basic human right in some of its decisions and the approach has been to seek the existence or absence of such right and the weight attached to it in a given situation and not to undertake to define the right to privacy and justified restrictions on it in any general manner.
In recent years, aided by developments in technology; collection of data, often of a personal nature, at an ever increasing scale has led to burgeoning issues and controversies in such respect.
Witness the condition to disclose data, including that as would be clearly defined as personal relating to family photographs, friends contact list et cetera, to downloading applications on Google play.
In June 2 013, based on revelations made by Edward Snowden, a US government contractor, “The Guardian” published that National Security Agency (NSA) of the US had collected telephone records of tens of millions of Americans. Close on the heels of the same, “The Guardian” and “Washington Post” published that NSA had direct access to – via the PRISM program – to the servers, amongst others, of Apple, Google and Microsoft and that these companies had assisted NSA in infringing laws and regulations pertaining to privacy controls. Following thereto, based on information provided by Snowden, it appeared that not only the NSA; but government agencies in a number of other countries had undertaken surveillance in a manner seemingly at odds with privacy protection.
The issue of privacy, in present times, therefore is a hot one and promises to remain so for times to come leading to an ever pressing need to have a clearer understanding of privacy and the concomitant rights.
The catchphrase “right to let alone” given by Warren and Brandeis did help set the tone to further probing of issues of privacy and to set about charting a more clear road to the understanding of privacy; but in itself, the phrase “the right to let alone”, is too wide, imprecise and leaves the issue to be clearly probed much deeper and incisively in the interests of better understanding of the issues of privacy, especially in the context of ever increasing technology in such respect.
In “Understanding Privacy”, a well-researched and well-reasoned work, Daniel J. Solove argues that a definition, all pervasive, of privacy would seem to be infeasible and any such definition would be either overwide or on the narrower side and it is better, for a proper understanding of the working of issues of privacy, to relate it to the context in which such issues arise. Still, realising the need for cornerstones or guidelines as a necessary bastion towards the understanding of the issue of privacy; Daniel J. Solove submits that the concept of privacy, or better, rather it’s working in reality, can be approached from four different contextual angles namely, (1) collection of data, (2) processing of data, (3) dissemination of data and (4) invasion. In all these broad context; – issues of privacy arise on regular basis and are to be understood and dealt with in their contexts; though, of course, these contexts can overlap and are not watertight compartments exclusive of each other.
While the segregation of the working of privacy issues in such four broad groups of “information collection”, “information processing”, “information dissemination” and “invasion” is helpful – “invasion” here would include the more conventionally or traditionally understood aspects of intrusion in private spaces such as homes and the like – nonetheless, it behoves a more succinct and, if possible, a tighter defining of the subject matter of the issues that relate to and give rise to the rights to privacy.
It is submitted here and, as put right in the beginning, privacy seems to have its origin in basic human will and instinct. It is prevalent in most other forms of life which resent intrusion in their private spaces. Such resentment can be on grounds of perceived dangers or displeasure simpliciter at the disturbance of a state of environment or atmosphere not desired to be disturbed by the presence of others, particularly strangers.
The will or the instinct to privacy, for a better correlation to adjudicating it in practicality, can be broken down broadly to a compendium of two situations.
In both the situations, whether it is a perception of threat to safety or where it is resentment against disturbance being posed to a certain state of affairs; possession seems to play a critical role. Issues of privacy seem to be at their strongest in matters of incursions inside the home or a space which is under possession or with regard to information or data that one considers as pertaining to or being so largely linked to oneself as to be considered matters of personal possession. Incursion into feelings, sentiments and emotions which again is perceived to be so linked or pertaining to oneself as to lay claims to possession over the same also are strong bastions of issues relating to claim to privacy.
Proceeding from the above cornerstones giving rise to issues of privacy; namely where intrusion is in matters of one’s possession and which are perceived as safety threat; or where the intrusion is resented on grounds of disturbance or conflict to a desired state of things including emotions, sentiments or decisions in areas held to be so vitally linked to oneself as to be that justified as possession over the same; what would then be required is to firstly adjudicate whether the perceived subject matter, either on grounds of threats to safety or disturbance to a desired state of affairs or things, is so substantially linked as to justify claims of possession over the same on part of the person or entity claiming privacy protection with respect to the same and then, secondly, to see whether, if a claim to a right of privacy does arise as aforesaid, then there is a need to roll back or restrict such a right to privacy on grounds of ABSOLUTE NECESSITY.
The first step, in adjudicating issues of privacy, to reiterate, therefore, is to see whether the claim is indeed over such subject matter as to which indeed one can lay a genuine claim to being vitally linked to oneself – and possession here would be the instrument to conveniently decide most of such issues – and then to see whether the rolling back or restricting such right or claim to privacy, if made out, on the basis of the first test as aforesaid, is able to be justified on grounds of absolute necessity.
As a ramification or component of human will and instinct; which is indeed a founding bastion of all basic human rights: all such basic human rights, including that of privacy, need to be restricted or rolled back only on grounds of absolute necessity if the human life is to be given a scope and allowance to attain its potential in keeping with principles of natural justice.
To give an example, the issue before the Supreme Court of India relating to government’s sought after pervasiveness of Aadhaar card may be tested on the basis given above. Aadhaar card contains biometrics which undoubtedly are matters of claims of privacy. Since privacy, with its origins in human will and instinct, is a basic human right critical and necessary to the allowance of the potential of human growth and existence, or putting it differently – to the removal of hurdles or obstructions to the same; rights to privacy can be rolled back only on grounds of absolute necessity. The test would be to see therefore whether such increasing pervasiveness of Aadhaar card as sought by the government is justified or not on grounds of absolute necessity.
The requirement of a statute or legislation on privacy, therefore, is an absolute must. An absolute must to ensure the protection of this vital right. Given, for instance, the opening of floodgates of agreements on the internet which – leave aside the question of going through suitably on part of overwhelming number of human beings, given its legal technicalities and verbosity – is so on the spur of the moment thing when one is in the need of a particular application or a software or other requirements on the internet as to leave the overwhelming number of populace helpless without any real choice to disagree with such agreements; the duty of the government to step in, first by laying down a clear law on issues of privacy and, secondly, to set up a body or tribunal to aid and assist the human populace on their behalf by calling in question such agreements suo moto and providing suitable redressal against the same and other unlawful breaches of privacy – as per the law adequately defined through statute in such respect – is a must.
She is a maid,
Thirty to thirty-five
years of age.
Three of her children,
She left in the village,
And the other two are here
with her, in the slum near.
They were starved,
And had to get away.
From her village already
have come so many
to this suburb here,
In a slum near.
Her husband she says
works in a place
some distance away
and visits sometimes,
But mostly at night.
About a month back,
Forlorn and wane
in our service lane,
Looking half dead;
She wanted work,
As a maid.
Like shadows in lament,
Her voice is faint
And her name is Rinku;
But by god, can she argue!
Our driver, a pundit,
The first thing he did
was to find out her caste;
Which is the bit
that in this universe vast
matters to him first and last.
She is of low caste,
with satisfaction informed.
But she is alright,
further he said;
As he is of a heart
of decency large.
Rinku’s baby daughter fell ill
a week back,
As when did
also our baby girl.
Both the babies recovered,
But yesterday, Rinku said
that returning home in evening,
she found her baby shivering
in vomit and urine.
Rinku is a maid,
Thirty to thirty-five
years of age.
Three of her children,
she left in the village,
And the other two are here
with her, in slum near.
What would have been the scenario if the Dadri lynching had not been strongly protested against?
In the aftermath of the Dadri lynching, a union Minister and certain other prominent personalities associated with the ruling coalition and its affiliates downplayed the incident; while the Prime Minister chose to be silent even while tweeting on relatively inconsequential matters.
Now suppose there had been no return of awards, no strong protests by large numbers against the Dadri lynching and its implications. Suppose our countrymen had chosen to remain by and large silent or indifferent to the Dadri lynching in this backdrop where the conduct of the Central government definitely, at the bare least, failed to inspire confidence in condemning this lynching. What would have been the implications then? Wouldn’t it be correct to say that in that situation, killers such as that undertaking the Dadri lynching would have found fair encouragement and such lynching, with passage of time, would have spread.
This is the under-appreciated significance then of the strong protest in the aftermath of the Dadri lynching and its related episodes and events. This strong protest stood to be the INTERNAL CHECK so vitally required to contain acts amounting to terrorism by way of threatening, injuring or killing innocents ostensibly in the name or grounds of religion. Without such INTERNAL CHECKS, terrorism cannot be contained simply by way of police, military measures.
Armed men with rabid minds finding justification in killing innocents on ostensibly religion related grounds are difficult to stop as history has demonstrated. Armed measures – preventive or offensive – have again failed to contain terrorism in effective manner.
It are the INTERNAL CHECKS – such as recently witnessed in India – where large numbers of Hindus strongly protested against the Dadri lynching – which prevented, undoubtedly, such killings from going berserk.
Fundamentally, there is no difference between a person of religion “A” and a person of religion “B” who are willing to kill innocents on what they see as being justified on grounds related to their religion. Persons of different religions who have killed on grounds ostensibly related to their religion would willingly kill again on such grounds if opportunity availed. IT IS HERE THAT INTERNAL CHECKS HELPS TO KEEP SUCH PERSONS IN CHECK; – BY WAY OF STRONG PROTESTS BY MEMBERS OF THEIR OWN RELIGION.
While armed preventive or offensive measures against terrorism are ongoing for some time; efforts on mobilising internal checks as in the sense stated above are still weak. The importance of India particularly arises in this context; – at least in recent times, in the protest by large sections of Hindus against acts by Hindus, such as the Dadri lynching, which helps so much to check further such tragedies. Such nature of protest or INTERNAL CHECK has to be manifested UNIVERSALLY if killings of innocents on grounds ostensibly related to religion are to be avoided or effectively contained.
And here it is to be remembered that there is no justification whatsoever for the killing of any population or personality owing different or contrary nationality, religion, race or philosophy; wherever or in whatever manner; and all such killings have to be strongly condemned and resisted to the level best extent possible. Humans born in this world remain entirely INNOCENT when made targets of violence owing to their different or contrary nationality, religion, race or philosophy.
There can be no killing of innocents as a reprisal against killing of innocents elsewhere; as that only heightens the tragedy and the sacrifice of innocents over power games, feuds and conflicts becomes relentless and fervent. It are these power pursuits, feuds, conflicts that have to be battled against and wherever any killing of innocent takes place on grounds relating to such feuds, pursuits and conflicts; they have to be resisted as much by INTERNAL CHECKS, as in the sense above, as by anything else; if the killing of innocents is to be effectively stopped.
SANJAY KUMAR SINGH
“Look, look !” His older cousin excitedly grabbed his hand.
Rahul Bhardwaj followed his cousin’s pointing finger.
About hundred yards away, standing before a secluded bamboo grove was a tall figure in dhoti and ganjee with his back to them.
“See, that’s Bansul Kaka, there!”
The figure did seem like Baldev Kaka, more often called Bansul Kaka by his cousin and others.
“See, that’s his latest lady !” The cousin continued.
As he looked more closely, indeed he could make out the figure of a woman that seemed to be standing in front of Baldev Kaka.
Baldev Kaka seemed to be touching this woman. At least, his hands seemed to be on her. Exactly what Baldev Kaka was doing, he couldn’t be sure as the distance was too great.
The cousin was older to him by 5 – 6 years, but they were good friends. The cousin had come to live with them in the city where Rahul Bhardwaj’s father had got him enrolled in a prestigious school. But the cousin’s talent for getting into mischief was far too great as compared to that for learning and after a couple of challenging years, the cousin had to depart for the village again. But the time spent together had been some great fun for Rahul Bhardwaj.
“Bansul Kaka is polishing them off at the rate of twice daily”, the cousin snickered. Rahul Bhardwaj found this difficult to believe. Baldev Kaka was nearly 70 years old; but yes, he did look amazingly fit for his years.
Baldev Kaka and the woman were inside the bamboo grove now and nothing more could be seen of them.
“That one is his current favourite. Simariya is her name. But he keeps changing his favourites. This one, Simariya, is really good!” The cousin continued.
“How does he manage that?” Rahul Bhardwaj asked.
“Bansul Kaka is in charge of the store. All these women from the nearby villages who come to work here get their payment through Bansul Kaka. That makes it easy for Bansul Kaka. He will give them 5 kg of extra grain and polish them off in return. That’s how he does it.” The cousin replied.
“Had never imagined Baldev Kaka to be such a scoundrel ! He’s bloody raping them for their poverty ! Rahul Bhardwaj angrily retorted.
“What about Baldev Kaka’s family ? Don’t they mind it ?” Rahul Bhardwaj asked again.
“Baldev Kaka’s family doesn’t live here. But wouldn’t have mattered a fuck even if they had lived here. Such happenings are not uncommon. Most of us here grow up on these women. Once I had tried with Simariya. But you know, they are surprisingly strong ! She just held my hand in a vice like grip and I couldn’t do anything. So strong was the hold.”
Later in the day, as they were walking around in the joint family holdings; a group of women was coming down the path from the nearby village.
“They have come to work on the corn that has come from the fields and there, there, the second one from the front, – that is Simariya ! ” The cousin, walking alongside, said in a low tone.
Rahul Bhardwaj looked. And he was impressed.
Rahul Bhardwaj was in an elite university in a big city. Grandmother’s death had brought him, along with his father, to the ancestral village. Rahul Bhardwaj was finding the stay tedious, with hardly anything to do and the heat unbearable minus the air conditioner. The only saving grace was the small library, which along with a miscellaneous store was housed in a single floor building which stood to one side; – somewhat isolated from the rest of the randomly scattered low buildings housing the joint family.
It was there in this library the next day when, early in the morning, Baldev Kaka came in.
“Babua, I have to go suddenly to the town on some urgent business. If anyone comes wanting anything from the store, then tell that person that I shall be back by evening,” Baldev Kaka told him with his usual affectionate smile.
Baldev Kaka was a cheerful person and always affectionate to him.
“Yes Kaka,” Rahul nodded his head.
“Just in case if anything is urgently needed from the store, here are the duplicate keys. But be careful before letting anyone take out any stuff from the store,” Baldev Kaka added.
Rahul Bhardwaj nodded his head again.
Rahul Bhardwaj looked at the departing back of Baldev Kaka. Then he read for some time, but started feeling sleepy as the heat mounted with the day. He slept for some time, but then couldn’t sleep any more. He got up to forage in the library, hoping to find something to his taste.
The cousin had left yesterday.
“Going to get some stuff. Will be back in a couple of days,” he had told Rahul Bhardwaj before leaving.
Rahul Bhardwaj’s father was to come back again in 3-4 days. He hoped the cousin would be back in time and wondered about the “stuff” that he was going to bring.
He was rummaging in the shelves, when he heard someone coming up the steps to the verandah of the building.
“Is Baldev Maalik here?” He heard a woman’s voice asking, and came out to see who it was.
It was Simariya.
“No, Baldev Kaka is not here. He had to go to town on some urgent business this morning. He’ll be back by evening.”
Simariya looked uncertain and made as if to go.
“Is it anything important,” he asked her.
She turned back slightly. “Baldev Maalik had said that the store required cleaning and as I didn’t have any work today, I thought I would clean it today.” Simariya answered, holding herself sideways, not looking at him.
Close up, she looked even better.
He stood looking at her.
She turned as if to leave.
“Wait, Baldev Kaka has left the store keys with me. You can clean it if you want,” he told her.
She looked hesitant.
“Maybe better to wait for Baldev Kaka to come back,” he said, pursing his lips.
He turned to go back to his room. He came out again quickly.
Simariya was walking away.
“Wait, come back.”
Simariya stopped and came back.
“There’s an old broken pitcher lying in my room. Pick it up and throw it somewhere as you go.” He told her.
She slowly nodded her head.
He entered his room and as she came inside, caught her hand.
Simariya froze, resistance and protest growing on her.
“……….I had once tried with her. She just held my hand in a vice like grip. I could hardly move my hand and had to let go of her.”
Rahul Bhardwaj quickly put his left hand also on her hand which he was already holding by his right hand.
The new currency note of rupees thousand – which was clearly visible when he had briefly taken his left hand away – now lay pressed on her hand by his left hand.
Simariya’s hand now stayed – limp and passive – in Rahul Bhardwaj’s hands.
SAN JOSE: Describing terrorism and global warming as the two biggest threats to the world, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi today questioned why the UN had not yet arrived at a clear definition of terrorism.
“If it has taken the UN 15 years to define terrorism, how many years will they take to fight it?” PM Modi said, addressing a large gathering of the Indian diaspora at the SAP Centre in San Jose.
(Defining “terrorism” can be double-edged for those seeking to define it. Maybe that’s why it’s taking so long.
Suggested drafts of definition of “terrorism” may help and hasten UN to define it. Here’s a suggested draft of definition of “terrorism”.
Comments would be most welcome.)
THE SUGGESTED DRAFT OF DEFINITION OF “TERRORISM”
“An act of terrorism is an act that aims at causing harm or injury to target comprising either of human life, property or resources and is related to any one or more of the following;
(a). Belief on part of the entity associated with the act that the target belongs to or is associated with or related to, as the case may be, any particular religion or groupings within any particular religion and the purported selection accordingly of such target on such belief,
(b). Belief on part of the entity associated with the act that the target belongs to or manifests or is associated with or related to, as the case may be, any particular profession of faith, philosophy, viewpoint or belief and the purported selection accordingly of such target on such belief,
(c). Belief on part of the entity associated with the act that the target belongs to or is associated with or related to, as the case may be, any particular nation or groupings within a nation or any physical territory broadly demarcated or recognisable otherwise and the purported selection accordingly of such target on such belief,
(d). Belief on part of the entity associated with the act that the target belongs to or is associated with or related to, as the case may be, any particular race or subdivisions thereto and the purported selection accordingly of such target on such belief;
Save and provided that any act shall not be an act of terrorism if such act is in the course of ensuring due safety to either human life, property or resources and is not disproportionate to the needs of ensuring such safety;
Save and provided further that any act shall not be an act of terrorism if such act is in the course of enforcing any law as duly applicable and is carried out by duly constituted authority or functionary and is not disproportionate to the needs of enforcing such law.”