Let’s play Aadhaar Aadhaar.
Tell me everything about yourself and I shall do the same.
When we were horny kids, instead of the totally decent upright adults we are now, and when the Internet was just approaching puberty, we used to go to a chat server called MIRC and log in to random chat rooms which left little to imagination. A chat room called sex would have a ratio of 1000 men to 4 women – and obviously the talk would be about the effect of GST on rural economy. Would the crops need moisture? Just where would drip irrigation fit in, and so on. You get the picture. Then a chat room called India would have a ratio of 1000 men to 4 men posing as women – and the topic would again be the effect of GST on the rural economy. We horny kids would talk nothing else except GST you know, and we men could make each other come in 20 seconds in cyber cafes with one hand in our underwears and the other furiously typing. But all chats between Hotdick4u and WannaCumOverMe would start with a question – A/S/L?
Ah the naive age of BeAnyoneYouWantTo ended in 2006 when the big daddy Facebook came on the scene and their rule of logins with original names only suddenly brought out the virtues of coochie coochie couple love and love for kids and pious thank you speeches over smallest of the achievements – and we signed over our privacy so that we didn’t have to get bored, but corporates are always benevolent, they only sell our data when it makes GOOD money for them, don’t they?
But governments – they are a different beast altogether, aren’t they? We’ve seen two parallel invasions of privacy – one when Trump has signed off a bill which allows Internet service providers to sell your browsing histories to private companies – and we all know that only rules that matter are the ones America makes, so what my wife will never know, Amazon already knows. And recently we were interrupted by an ad when we were using Facebook messenger – so I had a eureka moment then – all the people who have been unemployed by technology and AI have now been employed by marketing companies to eavesdrop on chats between anyone who isn’t married (cos let’s face it – sabji leke aana – movie chalna hai? – mummy rooth gayi – don’t make good ad selling material) and intersperse random add whenever you mention a website name or something sounding even similar to a website name. So you might be talking about the Victorian era and suddenly Lingerie will be on your face, and so on.
But the other, scarier development nearer home has been the ubiquitious Aadhaar card. Without us knowing, all of us have been reduced to a number. A number which tells the government and anyone with Google anything they need to know about you. The compulsory linking of Aadhaar with PAN has left no doubt in my mind that now, the ones who matter know everything about you. Your bank details, where you shop, what you like, your mobile number, your credit card details, by extension, your browser history (which Google already knows- check for yourself on myactivity.google.com). So now, in the post Asl era, all you need to ask a stranger in a chat room is Aadhaar? Voila, you shall know where she buys her underwear from, what she gifted her husband last anniversary, whether she makes so much that even a single gift is going to be out of your bounds, the colour of her irises, blah blah blah.
The government promise of” Your data is secure with us” – is just like your best friend knowing your darkest secret – safe only till he or she doesn’t find another better friend, for whom you shall become just another story. And while your friends may stay the same for life, governments change every 5 years. Imagine a stalker at the head of government. Wow, salivating thought, isn’t it?
To think this monster has been unleashed by Nandan Nilekani, the man who seemed to be “one of us”, the icon of the Indian Middle Class Dream, seems preposterous, doesn’t it? Maybe not after all. I put it down to the terrible English songs he must have heard and imbibed when he was growing up, all one bigger stalking song than the other.
Every breath you take, every move you maaaake…..
Wherever you goooo… whatever you do… I will be right here waiting for you…
I’ll be two steps behind yooooo
And the biggest of them all, which from now we shall call Nilekani Anthem –
I wanna know you…. like I know myself where Bryan Adams finally screamed – I wanna know YOUR UNDERWEAR.
So while crooning these in his shower at the tender age of 18, our Nandu found his life’s mission.
Being a stalker myself, at times I envy him. Sometimes, it’s so difficult to get information about the simplest things which you are dying to know, sometimes you would trade everything to be just a fly on the wall, for a day, just observe, know. (Dirty secret # 1 – My biggest fantasy involves a woman telling hilarious stories to an enthralled audience unaware of my presence in it). I am sure he must have been a jilted lover who wore the wrong colour tie on his date – which his girlfriend hated. From then on, he decided he shall know everything about everyone – so that he can go on a date with 1.2 billion people well prepared. Give an IT nerd a computer and money and take love away from him, and the outcome will never be different, will it?
There are people who make the argument – oh I have nothing to hide – only those who have something to hide fear disclosing everything. To them, I say – when I go to the loo, I have nothing to hide that other people dont do – yet I close the door, don’t i? I jerk off even without my wife knowing, don’t i? (or used to – Dirty secret # 2 – I swear, for reasons indisclosable, I have abstained totally in 2017.)
Now you are empowered with dirty secrets about me, don’t you feel powerful?
Multiply me by a billion. And make the secrets involuntary. I don’t know you know.
Godlike feeling isn’t it?
That’s why it is called Aadhaar.
Tum hi ho bandhu, sakha tumhi ho.