Within 20 months of failing to win Bihar, the NDA has sundered the grand alliance and seized power in the state. Or, you could say that NDTV was 20 months ahead of the news when its exit poll of the 2015 state elections gave the state to the NDA.
As news of Nitish Kumar’s resignation broke, it was surprising how easily the TV studios accepted the BJP’s spin: that the chief minister of Bihar — who was momentarily the former chief minister — had stumped up for probity. The viewers know, of course, that this was just a divorce of convenience followed by a shotgun marriage, again of convenience. It was politics as usual.
Kumar’s disinclination to remain associated with an ally who is a person of interest to the CBI is completely understandable. But when he protested too much about the urging of his antaratma, the viewer can only suspect that his inner soul is located in Delhi, and has a phone within easy reach.
The privacy hearings at the Supreme Court continue, in conditions of relative privacy. Such important matters, which could change the way we live our lives, should be heard on live camera, like they are in many countries. The reports are rather limited and one gets the impression that too much time had been spent on appreciating why privacy is not an absolute right. That’s not rocket science. It flows from the right to life and liberty — you generate data because you are a living thing — it is obviously as conditional as these rights are. With due process, the state can deny you these rights and clap you in irons, or hang you. The real question is the lack of data protection laws, which Kapil Sibal has brought up, while representing four non-BJP states which have impleaded themselves. The debate on this important issue would have been followed live if it had happened in Parliament. It’s a pity that we are denied the opportunity only because it’s gone to a courtroom.
Speaking of privacy, the Russian technologist Grigory Bukanov got so tired of pervasive cameras following him about that he developed an algorithm to help defeat facial recognition programs. It’s done with some makeup which looks a whole lot like war paint from the Wild West movies. It’s not on the open market, though, because it could be used by crooks and terrorists.
In the other former superpower, the New York Times reports that a Wisconsin technology company is offering to implant an RFID chip in the hands of employees. Made by the Swedish company Biohax, it will make electronic ID and cash cards irrelevant. Apparently, you can punch the clock or make a transaction just by waving your hand. Its tracking capabilities don’t seem to worry too many people.
Both the privacy case in the Supreme Court and the drama in Bihar will continue, with Lalu Prasad Yadav taking control of the discourse. The camera instinctively seeks colour, and Yadav is the most colourful personality in the state of Bihar. The only competition seems to be Tejaswi Yadav, who showed, in an interview with Rajdeep Sardesai, that he is indeed Lalu’s son, minus the rusticisms.