December 08, 2019

Inching Towards Being a Cyber Colony of the US

B Arjun

THE rightwing nationalism is as cockeyed as its populism. At one end it talks about its indigenous moorings and claims to fight cultural imperialism imposed by English language and western values; on the other hand it is relentless in pursuing its deep seated desire to be a part of the Anglo-Saxon imperium.

The prime minister tries to prove his nationalism by discrediting the Ford Foundation but has no compunction in receiving the Global Goalkeeper Award for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Modi is only fooling himself, if he thinks that the ultimate goal of Gates Foundation is any different from that of the Ford Foundation. Both are American foreign policy instruments engaged in building elite networks in India through various projects targeting urban and rural poverty. The so-called philanthropic organisations from America are known to play a political role. Ford represented the pervious era of industrial production and Microsoft is the new age company that is spearheading the cyber-dominance project on behalf of Anglo-Saxon capital.

Modi is an intelligent man. He knows full well what he is doing and why. He is aware of the class he belongs to. He cherishes membership of the global elite club and the Chaiwallah image has only been cultivated to fool the Indian public. Modi knows that his role is to mitigate the impact of class struggle and the worldwide political opposition to both capitalism and imperialism, which is growing at a quick pace.

Modi’s nationalism looks lame, especially when one sees the speed at which he is embracing the ultra-globalisation plan rolled out by the tech-companies in collaboration with Pentagon and the US Department of Homeland Security.  The Modi years will be remembered for the break-neck speed with which he built the Indo-US strategic ties, ensuring that the US became India’s the biggest arms supplier. Last year, India and US signed Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) at the inaugural India-US ‘2+2’ Ministerial Dialogue held in New Delhi. COMCASA will enhance interoperability between Indo-US armed forces and provide US access to Indian encrypted communications. The Modi government is not stopping at aligning with the US for external security; it is also hell bent on compromising India’s internal security apparatus by opening it up to the US  Homeland recruits agency.

While the media is focussed on Chinese company Huawei and the dangers posed by its 5G spread, the actual cyber collaboration was happening at the Indo-US Homeland Security Dialogue that promises to prioritise cooperation in the fields of counter-terror initiatives and intelligence sharing, customs and immigration, aviation security.

India and the US signed an agreement to “exchange terrorism screening information in 2016. The India’s Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) run by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) provides intelligence to relevant central and state security agencies is yet to fully integrate with the US Terrorist Screening Centre (TSC) and implement the Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-6).

The negotiations on exchange of information on terrorists on a real time basis between the two countries seems to have hit a minor roadblock as India is demanding that “in return of signing of the agreement, India must secure from the US side progress to the internet related data held by US-based services.”  Despite, the growing Indo-US bonhomie, many in the US establishment call India a “Sovereignty hawk”.  The US State Department’s annual report on international counterterrorism efforts has identified India as a “continued weaknesses in intelligence and information sharing” to have “negatively impacted state and central law enforcement agencies”. It is only a matter of time that the Modi government will sign the agreement with the US giving it far greater access to Indian intelligence data than it will receive in return. This is most likely to happen because the Indian elite desire that it materialises. Many see alignment with the US as a fait accompli because the other alternative is coming under the Chinese cyber cloud. However, what is ignored is developing in-house IT architecture that is less dependent on outside support. It is largely for this reason that one feels that Modi’s promise of making India great again is fake.


Kwame Nkrumah, one of the important leader of the non-aligned movement wrote a book in 1965, Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism. Nkrumah argued that the old fashioned imperialism based on direct management of colonies was over, giving way to neocolonialism, under which the imperial powers exercised indirect control of the economic and political policy of their so-called colonies, which were theoretically independent with “all the outward trappings of international sovereignty.”

According to Nkrumah, neocolonial was exercised through “the extended tentacles of the Wall Street octopus and its suction cups and muscular strength,” provided by the Pentagon. Western capital’s control of the world market and global supply chains, debt-traps, extended network of elite in the colonies and military bases were the instruments used to exercise control. 

Nkrumah imagined that non-alignment and third world solidarity provided the way out of the neocolonial trap. However, despite efforts by the poor countries the imperial capital won. The third world solidarity was fractured in early 1980s and the dream of a more equitable new economic order was buried under the structural adjustment programmes enforced by the IMF and World bank dictates. The 1990s saw the developing world signing the ‘Washington Consensus’ and climbing the neoliberal bandwagon, further emasculating its economic autonomy.

The twenty-first century ushered in the fourth industrial revolution with the help of Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D). The internal crisis of capitalism which came to fore in 2008, slowed the onslaught on state-sovereignty launched by technology. However, in a few years the US economy picked up momentum, the monster of cyber imperialism emerged stronger than before. And willy nilly, we are being pushed towards complete“digital colonialism”. The revelations about how our elections can be controlled and distorted by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, how social media sites like Twitter and WhatsApp can  be used to trigger communalism, gives these digital companies immense power not just to control our commerce but also our political life.

Those who argue that American e-commerce giants are purely commercial must understand the involvement of these companies in the game of war. The Microsoft Corporation was recently awarded a massive $10 billion contract for the Joint Enterprises Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing services by the US Department of Defense. A central component of the JEDI program is its mission critical support for the Pentagon’s artificial intelligence (AI) plans. The US military is now capable of deploying the most advanced war-technologies with the merger of JEDI, AI and algorithmic warfare. Amazon was also in the fray to grab the contract. Amazon Web Services (AWS) manages a $600 million cloud computing contract with the Central Intelligence Agency since 2013. Pentagon’s Project Maven, a program that develops AI battlefield technologies is managed by Google.

We are already in the midst of “cyber colonialism”, which is being defined as “The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country’s cyber-space, occupying it with technologies or components serving foreign interests, and exploiting it economically.”

Facebook, Netflix, Google, Uber and other Western commercial and social media giants have already penetrated our privacy and pockets. The unfortunate part is that our current government has no plans to tackle it. All it does is hide the creeping cyber colonialism by making people believe that Indian nationalism is being preserved by building temples and statues.