Nation of Beancounters

Why don’t Indians care about privacy?

Posted in Essays, Indian Culture by Navin Kumar on January 8, 2013

This fantastic cartoon from SMBC brought back a few thoughts about privacy – namely that I don’t care and neither do most Indians. It rarely features in the op-eds, went completely unnoticed during the UID roll-out etc.

My question: Why don’t we care, while people in the West do?

1. I’m wrong and Indians do care, I just haven’t noticed.

2. I’m wrong and Indians do care, but there are more pressing issues.

3. I’m wrong and some Indians care – namely, the activists and minorities who would be targets of such intrusions. Due to the existing power structure, their voices are unheard.

4. Indians don’t think the government is competent enough to manage such intrusions. India’s simply too large, and the police force too dysfunctional.

5. Indians have never had enough privacy to value it – we’ve grown accustomed to extended families living in small houses, neighbors dropping in any time they wish, overflowing public spaces etc. In most of the first generation middle class households that I’ve seen, the concept of one’s own room is vague – people sleep anywhere they please.

I’m not buying #3 – even at college debates where AFSPA etc seems to a pressing question, there’s no move to privacy debates. I seen dozens of motions being recycled over and over again, but can’t recall debating a single privacy motion. I think a mix of #4 and #5 is the most likely answer.

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