What is Pegasus spyware? It is an “accredited organization run by an Israeli company, NSO Group”. It can be used to infiltrate smart phones that run on both iOS and Android operating systems and turn them into surveillance devices.
It is a very worrying fact that Indian democracy is far from ideal. The Prime Minister has ministers in his cabinet, but some of them lack confidence. Some smart phones of his cabinet colleagues are therefore tapped or “spied on”.
This was made public from what came out in the Washington Post in the United States, the Guardian in the United Kingdom and Le Mandi in France. The names of two central ministers, namely Smriti Irani and Prahallad Singh Patel are there in the public domain. Their smartphones have been bugged. Not just this. The services of the spy organization called “Pegasus Spyware” were used probably with several crore rupees to break the JDS congressional government in Karnataka. In addition, the phones of dozens of journalists, namely Swati Chatruvedi and many others, including Siddharth Varadarajan of Wire and poll strategist Prashanta Kishor, Rahul Gandhi, etc. have been spied on to reap rich political dividends. Pegasus spyware can put under perfect surveillance anyone whose activities may go substantially against the Prime Minister or the incumbent President. The organization is used to overthrow democracy. No democracy, which has morally gifted political leaders both in government and in opposition, will need a spy organization like Pegasus. The Prime Minister or the President who has a feeling of insecurity will try to capture and tame the country’s journalists and media houses. But there are some journalists who are freelance writers who cannot be bought. In addition, there are media houses which do not have a “price to pay”.
The solution to this horrific image and reputation destroying spy system is to have the following five pillars here in India to strengthen our democracy and make it an ideal democracy.
First, the electoral system known as the First Past the Post System (FPTP) which gives unequal representation to Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha must be phased out and replaced by New Zealand’s mixed member proportional system. Why should the BJP have 103 more members in the Lok Sabha? According to its percentage of vote, 37%, the BJP is only allowed to have 200 members in the Lok Sabha. Not at all one more member, but it now has 303 members.
Second, governance should not be ‘veiled in secrecy’. Governance must be fair and ethical. Thus, the 2nd pillar necessary for Indian democracy is that Cabinet meetings held respectively by the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers must be open to the press. Every Cabinet meeting has to be attended by, say, 30 journalists sitting in the press gallery covering the work of Cabinet.
Third, corporate funding of political parties should be prohibited. The income and expenses of each political party should be verified by qualified persons appointed by the Election Commission of India.
Fourth, progressive elections should be abolished and instead one-day elections should be held. The Election Commission should not act on the whims and whims of the PMO. And, furthermore, the prime minister and central ministers should not be allowed to call for state elections, ignoring their fundamental responsibilities at the central level. The count is to follow shortly after the end of the vote.
Fifth, it has to do with government stability. Once a government is formed, whether by a single party or by a coalition of parties, it must continue for the duration of five years. The way the Congressional government was overthrown within the MP and JDS – Congress coalition that was destabilized by the BJP must not happen. The continuation of government will be overseen by the Election Commission of India and the Supreme Court of India.
(The writer is Secretary General, Freethought Party of India)