Updated: August 28, 2011 13:37 IST

WikiLeaks cables “inspired” anti-corruption campaign in India

Hasan Suroor
Comment (34)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks during a public debate at Kensington Town Hall in London on Saturday.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks during a public debate at Kensington Town Hall in London on Saturday.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said the “tremendous” anti-corruption movement “building up” in India is a result of the publication of “cablegate” revelations by The Hindu in recent weeks.

Citing the campaign, led by Anna Hazare, as an example of the impact of WikiLeaks cables, he said what was happening in India was “something that has not happened since the time of Gandhi.”

Mr. Assange singled out The Hindu's coverage of the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables while speaking in a debate organised by the Frontline Club and New Statesman here on Saturday.

Stating that he could “speak for hours” about the reverberations sparked by the cables around the world, he noted: “Just yesterday [on Saturday], the Editor of The Hindu, the most respected paper in India, brought over 21 front pages from the past six weeks that were based on cablegate material. Indian Parliament walked out four times and there's now a tremendous anti-corruption movement that has been building up in that country — something that has not happened since the time of Gandhi.”

Making a difference

Mr. Assange, making a rare public appearance, said the WikiLeaks cables were making a difference in ways that many Britons wouldn't have heard about. And, then, he referred to the developments in India following The Hindu's reporting of WikiLeaks documents.

A 900-strong audience in the packed Kensington Town Hall in central London listened as Mr. Assange defended the need for anonymous whistle-blowing, arguing that it made the world a safer place. The “bloodbath” in Iraq could have been averted if someone had had the courage to speak up.

Dynamic feedback

Challenged over WikiLeaks' own transparency, he said: “We are directly supported on a week-to-week basis by you. You vote with your wallets every week if you believe that our work is worthwhile or not. If you believe we have erred, you do not support us. If you believe we need to be protected in our work, you keep us strong. That dynamic feedback, I say, is more responsive than a government that is elected after sourcing money from big business every four years.”

Mr. Assange, who is fighting extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault, said whistle-blowing was essential in a democracy because “the only way we can know whether information is legitimately kept secret is when it is revealed.”

He also referred to the plight of U.S. marine Bradley Manning, now in prison over allegations of leaking thousands of classified American documents.

During the debate, “This house believes whistleblowers make the world a safer place,” Mr. Assange was challenged about his website's source of funding and style of operation.

Good work Mr Assange. The crusade for cleaning out corruption is to some extent definitely has been affected by the wikileaks cables though not fully. We as Indians are the most tolerant nation in the entire world. How much dreadful the conviction may be, the convict in most of the cases get a good deal of a time to be heard off and dealt with and in the run fade away from people's memory. That's the strange truth. If not persisted, this movement will also sink into oblivion. Again it's not the media alone. It's the long time grievance of the general population which is responsible for this spontaneous outburst. Everything has a limit wherein the elastic nature turns plastic beyond a scertain level. What Anna Saab did is nothing new. This has been done earlier also. But this time it was heard strongly as more people were involved.

from:  Dr. Subhashis Mukherjee
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 16:22 IST

Anna and Assange-both are heroes.

from:  Premal
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 16:09 IST

Mr. Assange isn't saying WL or cablegate inspired Annaji or the other activists. He is just saying that 'The Hindu' and other English news channels' and newspapers' extensive coverage of the Embassy cables and the fallout in the parliament brought it to the forefront of our(non-activists) consciousness just at the right time and thus might have been a contributing factor to the unexpected support from people all over the country for the anti-corruption protest.I too think that this was a contributing factor, for this is true in my case. A lot of people who came in support of the Jan Lokpal bill had no idea about the bill. Just that a general sense that when our local corruption is so obvious to everyone and still we do nothing about it, then we are the ones at fault. A lot of Indians visiting WL forums seem to be interested in the Swiss bank leaks and seem to have associated WL with anti-corruption. I hope WL doesn't disappoint them in this aspect. Some statements from WL on the source of funding and style of operation would be welcome. I hope journalists who get a chance to interview him ask him questions about 1. WL funding, 2. Organisational structure, 3. Has Rudolf Elmer's disks been given to the serious fraud investigative authorities (as he said when they were handed over to him).

from:  Aruna
Posted on: Apr 12, 2011 at 21:57 IST

In my opinion it did not have much impact in India. Indians are least concerned about it. Make it more powerful by leaking Indians' information so that, at least then Indians can take a call on that.

from:  Mourya G Srinivas
Posted on: Apr 12, 2011 at 18:55 IST

U.S Career Diplomats are trained in culling out information from Politicians,Bureaucrats,business men etc in the Countries they are posted,be it in a friendly country like U.K,hostile country like Vietnam or a neutral country like India.This training started from 1973,after a Group of OB/Psycologists from Harward studied the Performance Levels of apply' 2500 C.Ds accross the world. I have read this study report & the U.S State Dept' study was my 1st case study during my Training abroad. I am not a bureaucrat or politician,nor accademician or business man.Iam a hard core Human Resources Practioner.I can share these very interesting information/links to Career Diplomats ability in culling out information from politicians, bureaucrats, businessment etc to Mr.Ram, Cheif Editor.I had some calls from Chennai(mostly journalists,who had attended my presentaion on above,during a MDP Organised by Madras Mgt' Assn',an arm of All India Mgt' Assn'(AIMA).I have heard Mr.Ram in many forums.

from:  T.Suresh
Posted on: Apr 12, 2011 at 16:02 IST

Corruption in high places should be definitely curbed. Those who amassed wealth by corrupt practices should be booked and their wealth should be confiscated

from:  K Damodaran
Posted on: Apr 12, 2011 at 14:06 IST

He was thrown out of a train, for daring to travel in the first class compartment. He rose and the british empire was thrown out of India. A moving photograph published in a daily changed the course of the dreaded Vietnam war. A false propaganda on WMD destroyed a country, its leader and led to a civil war. A twitter posted by a youngster turned into a revolution in Egypt and led to the removal of a dictator and hope for a democracy. History is replete with remarkable incidences and events which changed the course of mankind, with a spark ignited in some corner. Radiagate exposed a larger scam in the country. Wikileaks cables were more of a classified information about war crimes, misdemanours of world leaders in the west. When it touched on India, it centered on corruption indulged in by the oldest party in India, to cling to power by all means.Mr Deva Gowda, in his last ditch attempt in the parliament, before voted out, openly praised Mr Narasimha's prowess in running a minority govt for 5 years without hiccups.
When our newspaper exposed Bofors scam in the late eighties, it looked big and the powers that be at that stage, were really jittered. When we now look at 2G scam, 64 crores look like a petty cash expense and the even the municipal councilors would laugh at this figure. Yesterday, in a TV channel, a columnist was mocking at Mr Hazare's fasting as a fraud claiming that he vanished during the night time.
Whatever be the truth, the govt has really caught hold of a tiger's tail and it will be difficult for the govt to get away from it. If it dithers, people will come out in larger numbers and they may sit before the parliament. Mr Kapil Sibal is definitely arrogant, seems deliberate, in his statement on child's welfare vis-a-vis Lok pal bill. The least he could do is to persuade his colleagues to return the looted money in 2G and this amount is more than enough to feed the hungry child for years.

from:  P G Ravikumar
Posted on: Apr 12, 2011 at 13:36 IST

The Hindu does not get the due credit always, in fact it gets criticism -- now when it is becoming immensely popular, all losers cannot digest this fact and will obviously be jealous! But 'The Hindu' MUST expand into all of India. A bit of investment and marketing needs to be done. And the editions must be as good as the Channai edition -- attractive but no compromise on principles. Inspite of The Hindu having started off exposing India's first scam, the Bofors scam when other newspapers kept quiet, inspite of exposing the S-band spectrum scam and so many other vital issues for the nation, The Hindu hardly claims any credit. Just look at claims of news channels -- first on our channel, exclusive on our channel and some behave as if they are only responsible for anything done. But this is not bad actually -- some deliberately claim credit for things which they are not the source and don't have the basic courtesy to name the source from where they have got the information!
Seniors in The Hindu may not be affected by all this but as a 24-year old reader of The Hindu, I can't bear the anguish at this unfairness!

from:  Yashwanth P
Posted on: Apr 12, 2011 at 08:49 IST

Wiki leaks is one out of billion reasons behind the anti-corruption movement. It is the people frustation and helplessness for last 60 years is triggered by Anna Hazara campaign, which translated to this movement. All the credit goes to Anna Hazare and other activities.

from:  Kishore
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 22:00 IST

Wikileaks was one of the main reasons for starting the fight against corruption in India. Great job. Keep up the good work.

from:  Pradip Singh
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 20:12 IST

I think Mr Assange is very correct. True, corruption has almost become a part of the Indian genome, but wikileaks (i.e. this newspaper's coverage of it) did act as a trigger. Not many common people might not know Mr Assange's name, but that hardly matters. They know the facts now. And, the media-savvy people who organised protests on the web etc... are very much aware of the pivotal role played by wikileaks. I find the comments of a few people decrying Mr Assange for 'claiming the credit' naive. He is just stating a fact, and not trying to hog limelight by unfair means.

from:  S Kumar
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 20:05 IST

The world whistleblower Julian Assange is doing a good service to the mankind. But he too is facing the same problem of attempts of being gagged up by the 'politically guilty' which is being faced by the whistleblowers in INDIA .About 45-50 whistle blowers have lost their lives for the cause of transparency and accountability. But media coverage is limited to the mere mention of the names of the fighters as any insignificant news item. if media support have been extended then the deaths of 45-50 people enough to shake the conscience of our nation as happened in the case of ANNSA HAZARE's protests and dharna. Will any media house/personality dare to raise the issue national whistle blowers ?

from:  Bhanu pratap
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 18:59 IST

This is one thankless job and it will be so -- you must see certain news channels and newspapers which will claim credit for everything under the sun including Dhoni and his team's World Cup victory! While it is true that 'The Hindu' has silently been always in the very forefront of the most important issues, it has no one else to blame except itself if it does not occupy the position that it deserves at the national level in terms of business value.

from:  Yashwanth P
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 17:08 IST

Wikileaks is a great revelation, beyond doubt. Whether its right or wrong to do such espionage, is an ethical question that we need not delve in to, at the moment. However, linking Hazare's motivations to Wikileaks is like taking it a bit too far. It's not Hazare's first crusade. It will not be his last either. In my view, it was just a coincidence..and not exactly an inspiration.

from:  Sowmya
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 11:39 IST

Anna ji's campaign had started long before 'The Hindu's wikileaks revelations. They tried many times in the past to being people together to fight corruption, but nothing happened. Recent wiki revelations had pushed our tolerance to the brim and resulted in unprecedented support to recent Anna hazare's campaign.

from:  Prakash
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 11:32 IST

It is true

from:  Atis
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 10:45 IST

That's true ....WikiLeaks is doing good work there ..keep rockin guys

from:  abhi
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 10:00 IST

There's no doubt that WikiLeaks has inspired anti-corruption movement. But close on its heels, providing WikiLeaks' versions with some accurate data, were some of the hard-working journalists, investigation officers, telecom officials, judiciary and regulatory tax-enforcement officials. It was a surprise to see all these dead arms springing back to life and bringing on the heels some of the notorious scams of the century in free India. The tip of the iceberg now exposed, it is time that the mantles are taken further down and the tendency nipped in bud. Though influence of powerful corporates on these scams have not yet surfaced, its high time these corporates are roped in. The cartel of software monopoly corporates with federal ministries gaining inroads with proprietary licenses have eluded public scrutiny - a single example of MGNREGS will itself outsmart all other scams put together - whereby a corporate is assured of millions throughout the future for leasing out its proprietary software services for a solution created by NIC. Finally, we the citizens, need to seriously ponder, why we should retain this representative system of governance in all spheres of public activity, when technology is already enabled to provide a direct-democracy based solutions - which is not anti-thetical to the constitutional objective of equality.

from:  CK Raju
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 09:56 IST

While Assange work is really commendable, saying WikiLeaks inspired the Anna Hazare movement is taking it far too off. The man has been fighting for this all his life, and CWG/2G/Adarsh scams which led people to go for this cause are revelations of RTI not WikiLeaks.

from:  sam
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 09:45 IST

I feel there is quite a lot amount of truth in what Mr. Assange has said, as has been brought out in the article.

from:  Murtuza
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 09:44 IST

WikiLeaks and The Hindu have done a very good job in bringing out the cables.Having said that,the protests by Mr.Anna Hazare and others were certainly not a fallout of these revelations in particular.

from:  Sarat Rao
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 09:22 IST

I regret to say that he is being an opportunist and wants to take credit & hog limelight as I really can't see much of a link in Wikileaks and Anna Hazare's struggle against corruption. While Anna has been fighting against social vices since decades, Wikileaks hasn't come up with anything which Indian public was not broadly aware of. As a principle disclosures by wikileaks are in good spirit and can give glimpse of few details of shady diplomacy but to say that wikileaks is responsible for a spontaneous surge of support for Anna Hazare's agitation, is bit too much to digest.

from:  sanjay
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 08:29 IST

For decades, the ruling elite of India have comfortably ignored the cries and petitions of the people fed up with corruption. As these oppressed voices find expression through media now and then, and significantly through the internet, the ruling classes have begun to step up their strangle hold on liberty and access to information using various laws and amendments, such as the ongoing attempt to dilute the RTI provisions, and draconian provisions under the IT act. However, information cannot be controlled beyond a point, as this is the information age, whether we like it or not. The wikileaks phenomenon and the social-media assisted movements of recent times are evidence of that. The people of India have been slow to awake to this reality. However the signs of change are in the air and the political elite should not ignore this any longer. To claim that India is the largest democracy in the world, without an equal commitment to liberty, transparency and standards of governance, is a farce. Let us end this vain talk now and clean up our act.

from:  Kumar
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 08:18 IST

We all should applaud and thank Julian Assange for exposing corruption details of Indian politicians as admitted by Swiss bank officials with details of carting away money from India in numbered accounts abroad. It is time we all join Anna Hazare's call to end corruption and freeze all numbered foreign undocumented illegal accounts and bring back money to India and make those numbered politicians go bankrupt as that is a fitting punishment as I would not waste public money to jail them and feed them.

Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 06:06 IST

This assertion smacks of arrogance of the highest order. Various people in all political parties have been making corruption an issue in political meetings and in parliament debates, long before WikiLeaks was born. It would be so much better if the leaks focused on all the nations, not just the U.S.

from:  Jay Ravi
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 05:59 IST

Shouldn't you guys include 'Assange claims' in the headline ?

from:  Anup
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 05:35 IST

WikiLeaks about India started leaking only this year. But the movement against graft started in 2010. Assange don't misguide people.

from:  Suresh
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 03:56 IST

I was in core part of movement. There was no such great impact because of WikiLeaks.

from:  Prashant
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 00:31 IST

Rubbish comment. Assange don't spoil your image by talking like this.

from:  mark
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 00:15 IST

Through fair or foul means, availability of information in public domain has always helped people's cause. In this technology-driven globalized world, the contribution of Wikileaks will stand out in history.
Julian is, however, wrong when he says what is happening in India following Wikileaks revelation and Anna Hazare's fast has not happened since Gandhi's time. Some, in the media, have characterized the agitation in India as the second freedom movement.
In the history of independent India - in early 1970's - a massive popular anti-corruption movement started in Gujarat and Bihar. It had led to the imposition of national Emergency, shedding of innocent blood and eventual peaceful, democratic overturn of the Indira government.

from:  Binoy Shanker Prasad
Posted on: Apr 11, 2011 at 00:08 IST

Good to have people like that in world, who want to weed out corruption in the world.

from:  puneesh
Posted on: Apr 10, 2011 at 23:55 IST

Agree with Assange. WikiLeaks is partly responsible for the anti-corruption movement in India. Mr.Assange please continue your good work. Now we know how the Democratic Governments work all over the world. We need more people like Anna and Assange.

from:  Srnivas
Posted on: Apr 10, 2011 at 23:45 IST

Yes, he will or the likes of him always say the English had inspired Indians to fight for their freedom! Gandhi was made in England. Nehru was made in England. Just as this type says, oh yes! the English made of India a nation!

from:  Satish Kumar Shukla
Posted on: Apr 10, 2011 at 23:20 IST

Get over yourself dude! You did a great job publishing the cables, but whats happening in India is hardly a result of that. People in India cannot care less about the World politics (especially US politics) which concerned most of the cables that you published. I bet 90% residents of India haven't even heard your name. And most of the 10% who have don't even know what those cables contained.

from:  Vishesh Mittal
Posted on: Apr 10, 2011 at 23:16 IST
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