Take a Train to Pakistan, Edward Snowden


Take a Train to Pakistan, Edward Snowden

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

As if the controversy around the Aadhaar cards wasn’t confusing enough, Edward Snowden had to step in and muddle it up further by adding his two cents to the debate this week. First, he responded to a Tribune story about how the UIDAI Aadhaar database could be remotely hacked for the sum of 500 Rs, by noting that governments collecting private data has historically always led to abuse. Then, Snowden followed it up by coming out in support of the Tribune reporter who filed the story, saying she deserved an award rather than the investigation that resulted from the UIDAI filing a case against her.

Now that our Aadhaar cards have been linked to our phone numbers, bank accounts, driving licenses, library cards, and bar tabs, it’s awfully inconsiderate of Snowden to come and rain on our parade. After all, who is Snowden except a former NSA contractor who put his livelihood and well-being on the line to expose how governments were unlawfully tracking private citizens? Whether the Aadhaar scheme is flawed or not, what are his qualifications to criticise the large-scale establishment of a biometric database of citizens of the world’s largest democracy?

If the whole country (or at least 31%) has put its faith in the current regime to provide good governance and safety, then clearly Snowden is in the wrong. Before wading in with his big mouth, he should have gauged his audience. We clearly don’t give a shit about whistleblowers in India. Think about the Army sahayak who committed suicide over an irresponsible “sting operation” conducted by “journalists” last year, or any of the many other Indian whistleblower deaths if you prefer a different vintage. Clearly, we like our whistleblowers like Sonu Nigam likes his morning azaan: silent and out of commission. So if Snowden is against the Aadhaar, then all patriotic Indians must definitely stand for it.

What’s been made clear thanks to his comments this week is that Edward Snowden is a rabid anti-national. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that his diet is exclusively made up of beef momos, and that he doesn’t even follow PM Modi on Twitter. Such a dissenter, who has proved that his mission is to expose government wrongdoings, surely has no place in the Aadhaar debate. In fact, we don’t even think he has a place in Russia, where he is currently hiding in fear of the consequences of his actions. His place, like all anti-Aadhaar anti-nationals like him, is across the border in Pakistan. So to him we say, “Go away Snowden, Aadhaar kiya toh darna kya?”