The Indians, Chinese and the Information Overload Problem

The Kush

Hi! Welcome to the 12th edition of The Kush, our newsletter written specifically for Mondays and Tuesdays. If you’re reading this for the first time, then welcome. The Kush is our newsletter where we trip on the narratives blowing across the world today, events that seek to shape the future in more ways than one. After all, if one is not able to understand the pulse of the world’s key events, how can one understand his or her own place in the same world, so to speak? Some people tend to remain at the surface level of most events, we however choose to go deep as usual and keep blazing. 

The Dragon May Have No Chill

The Indian Express’ story published last night was probably the paper’s scoop of the year, with their journalists digging deeper than usual and probably enlisting some help from their technology obsessed brethren when it comes to surveilling human beings using devices and data. And what a story. A Chinese company registered in Shenzhen (the Silicon Valley of the East) has been tracking India’s most influential individuals encompassing government officials, bureaucrats, ministers, businessmen and celebrities. 

As per Indian Express: 

“The range of targets in India identified and monitored in real time by Zhenhua Data Information Technology Co. Limited is sweeping — in both breadth and depth.”

“From President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi and their families; Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee, Ashok Gehlot and Amarinder Singh to Uddhav Thackeray, Naveen Patnaik and Shivraj Singh Chouhan; Cabinet Ministers Rajnath Singh and Ravi Shankar Prasad to Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, and Piyush Goyal; Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Singh Rawat to at least 15 former Chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force; Chief Justice of India Sharad Bobde and brother judge AM Khanwilkar to Lokpal Justice P C Ghose and Comptroller and Auditor General G C Murmu; start-up tech entrepreneurs like Nipun Mehra, founder of Bharat Pe (an Indian payment app), and Ajay Trehan of AuthBridge, an authentication technology firm, to top industrialists Ratan Tata and Gautam Adani.” 

It is not yet clear how and what the company in question has been doing. And for obvious reasons, we still do not know in what ways the company may have sliced and diced their data as per their underlying motivations and intentions. All we know is that this information “was obtained through a network of researchers from a source connected to the company based in Shenzhen City in Guangdong province, south-east China. Citing “risk and safety,” the source did not wish to be named.” This source in turn passed on the findings to a professor in Vietnam who in turn shared it with news organisations that include The Indian Express, The Australian Financial Review, Italy’s Il Foglio and The Daily Telegraph, London. 

“Every country does this in one way or the other, that’s the job of foreign intelligence. But using big data science and technology, Beijing has, clearly, taken it to the next level,” said Robert Potter, a Canberra-based cyber security, tech and data expert, who worked with the source to verify the electronic antecedents of the Zhenhua data set”

“Just looking at the range of people they are getting information on shows that they are very serious about the strategic value of hybrid warfare. These are their information assets and tracking them on a continuous basis, their work, their families, their movements, their leadership roles, their organisations is invaluable data that can be leveraged in countless ways,” Potter said.

We just can’t trust them, can we? What would it take?

Let’s keep blazing. 

What Should You Do? 

While everyone harbours dreams of making a difference to the world in their lives, it is also prudent to reason that many often don’t. And it is not wrong at all. For instance, many nationalists cannot wrap their heads around the fact that the notion of the motherland does not make sense to millions of people. Everyone it seems has unique problems which require unique solutions, and indeed in this day and age what can concepts like nationalism and religion offer us from a practical perspective, other than generating some feel-good neurochemicals? 

We do not know and we’ll not pretend as if they’ve no use whatsoever.

Of course, for many millions all over the world, their senses of life and purpose are intertwined with the destiny of their nation and their favourite gods. Yet, they’re outliers. Because many people need more than that. People also need good food, homes and skills that they enjoy developing and become productive members of society. 

But what if millions of people do not want to be productive?

In that case, capitalism cannot work for them because the fundamental ethos of capitalism is rooted in merit. It says that an individual’s application of this mind, his or her process of thought so to speak can be validated in a free marketplace of ideas like biological evolution, with the best ideas, products and services meriting more attention and so on. If people lose interest in being productive, they cannot enhance the standard of their lives, at least as per capitalism. They will have to resort to other means of gaining access to wealth. In a non-meriting way so to speak. 

Let’s keep Blazing. 

Don’t Waste your time

Without meaning to sound preachy, the onus is upon the younger generations to dissect the agendas at play in the world they inhabit today, for it is the youngsters who have time on their hands, and all the information that they seek is available at their fingertips provided they are within reach of electricity and internet connections, if not broadband, then mobile. However, now what? 

We already have more information than we know what to do with them, and still a significant cohort of masses are content to consume content that will probably not add much value to their lives, simply because now we need a filter, a lens to view the world from a vantage point of view. After all, who can really claim to know exactly the right information that an individual needs at the right point in his or her life? 

With so much information available, The Kush is probably our own attempt to make senses amidst the fogs. 

Keep Blazing, have a great day 🙂 

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