Wikileaks documents enhance Indian government, suppress Indian tragedies

10 02 2011

Photo courtesy of Live India

In a country where demanding the right to information can be fatal, the Wikileaks scandal would seem to be a threat to the information suppression perpetuated by the Indian government. However, the release of the 41 cables pertaining to India seems to have caused little ruckus.

In fact, Wikileaks may have enhanced the reputation of the country. The documents concerning India are few and when the country is involved in a cable it is not controversial in nature. One document expresses India’s criticism of human rights violations in Sri Lanka, while another document reveals India’s encouragement of democracy in Burma.

Through most of the documents, India is portrayed as a U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism. Vehemently opposing terrorism, India frequently discusses counter-terrorism methods with the U.S. in multiple documents (including this one) with an emphasis in the volatile regions of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and South Asia. India is made to look like an anti-terrorist hero, a freedom fighter like the U.S.

The documents even aid the government in responding to the devastating Mumbai attacks of 2008 where “gunman carried out a series of coordinated attacks…killing 101 people and injuring 287 more,” according to BBC News. According to the document, “steps…to strengthen the country’s intelligence and terror fighting capacity” were carried out “in the 36 hours since the terrorists in Mumbai were taken out.” Additionally, the document reveals that government changes took place immediately after the attack with government officials resigning for stronger, more capable leaders to take their place.

Though Wikileaks did not cause any damage to the country’s reputation, the problems of India lie not within government secrets, but within the culture that is embedded in the nation. It is ironic that one of the Wikileaks documents reveals India’s concern over the human rights debacle in Sri Lanka when the country perpetuates its own human rights scandal. Perhaps India can escape cries of hypocrisy for the country does not use citizens as human shields, as was the case in Sri Lanka, but the terror that Indian women face every day cannot be suppressed.

Yes, I believe the cables should have been released, as no one should be denied information – even information that is confidential in nature. However, with these cables India is painted as anything but a horrifying harbor of human rights atrocities.

Let’s not forget that there are an estimated 2.3 million Indian women in prostitution, a quarter of whom are minors and children, most of whom are forced into this drudergy and will never know another life (according to Coalition Against Trafficking in Women).

Just because India has come away clean in the Wikileaks scandal, doesn’t mean problems don’t exist. India’s problems lurk in the red light districts where women are taken to a life of slavery.

klarge@flagler.edu