Julian Assange – epitome of right to know



Julian Assange’s story is no less than a Hollywood potboiler with frequent twists and turns raising hackles for administrators who decide on how much people should now. Assange through his portal WikiLeaks had broken that myth and have demonstrated people’s right to know and judge for themselves, an idea not digestible to the ruling class.

It is a known fact that the governments across the world, even in the finest democracies, believe in limited leaks of information to influence the public opinion in their favour. They don’t allow complete flow of information for public at large to have an independent opinion. Media have been used as a tool to create a certain public opinion by those in power and it has succeeded several times in its objective.

Assange, who calls himself editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, had dared to ask for more than what is obvious and is in trouble for it. The ways and means — hacking — adopted by him may not be legally tenable but as Krishna said in Mahabharata about one’s dharma is to fight for truth and righteousness, what Assange did gets benefit of doubt.

The ultimate objective of Assange was to blow the lid over powerful administrators conduct in name of interests of the nation, which outweighs the hacking charges against him. Through WikiLeaks, we for the first time learnt that how secret information about India and its policy was being passed on to the United States, the biggest victim of his actions. It was WikiLeaks, which for the first time, released the names of Indian account holders in the Swizz banks, the information the government had denied.

Being bold and ability to challenge the powerful has its repercussions. The man is holed in the Ecuador’s Embassy in London is one such case but there are several such whistle-blowers across India. Ramesh Aggarwal, a Raipur based RTI activist, was beaten black and blue by police and hoodlums of top Indian company for revealing that the government and the company have joined hands grab prime public property to set up a polluting industry in violation of norms. Over a dozen RTI activists have been killed in India in the past year for doing exactly what Assange’s WikiLeaks has done — expose the corrupt.

Assange, who is know a cause of diplomatic row between Ecuador and Britain, is a pride for whistleblowers for fighting for the right cause is pitted against all mighty – United States and its cronies. Battle for him is not easy despite a huge support for him on the cyber space and among who support his cause — people’s right to know.

The US had portrayed Assange as a villain and Republican senator Mitch McConnell termed him a “high-tech terrorist” who needs to be prosecuted for doing “enormous damage to our country” by releasing thousands of sensitive cables, shrouded in the shadowy world of diplomacy.

It is well-known that someone’s hero can be somebody else’s villain. Julian Assange falls in this category. On Friday, the Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai, who played some-what Assange in Delhi, turned villain for the government. Minister of state in Prime Minister’s Office V Narayanasamy termed the reports as “unconstitutional” and went to the extent of saying that CAG was extrapolating facts.

Many may not agree with my comparison between Assange and Rai, rightly, because they have used different means to expose nepotism and corruption. Assange used hacking or may be bribery whereas Rai performed his constitutional duty to scrutinize government records in the right earnest. The end result was almost same — we continue to be ruled by the corrupt.

Despite such startling revelations the corrupt never get penalized, the whistleblowers like Assange does. And, is the sad fact of modern times.

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