Thursday, July 19, 2007

Civil Liberties and the State

I just got an email that a magistrate has ordered this:
Companies in the Chennai IT Corridor are required to issue ID cards to all their employees. Intelligence Bureau will do surprise checks. Anyone not having an ID card in an organization will be questioned.

Let us pause and think about this: IB apparently has the rights to walk into private property and question people not wearing an ID.
Doesn't it seem to the magistrate that this is a gross violation of civil liberties? We are NOT at a state of internal emergency. I am a peace loving citizen more in danger from being killed by one of the crazy drivers of Chennai than by a terrorist attack. Why am I being questioned at my work place??

Why does just the threat of terror attacks make us cower in the basement and abandon our rights to a free life - when we drink poisoned water, pesticidal cool drinks and breath the incredibly polluted air of IT corridor?
None of the companies in IT corridor are going to protest this - yet such violations are frequent by the Indian State. We require ID and address proof for Pre-Paid phones - because apparently terrorists use pre-paid phones. Meanwhile getting an address proof in this country requires multiple rounds of bribery. Or you got to "know" people.

The problem is, the rights of a constitutional liberal democracy have never permeated the minds of Indian voters - particularly the educated class. The standrad argument is that we need protection. My question is, how much of your liberties will you sacrifice for that protection? And what exactly are we protecting here? Isn't it supposed to be our freedom? Or if we are convinced that protection of our lives overrides every other consideration (our constitution and its writers think otherwise) - then let us declare martial law and live under perpetual fear.

If someone paid attention to the spiralling rise of traffic related deaths, it may cause more security, than these measures.

No comments: