On April 9, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT will devote its
207 MIT India Conference to the topic of “Digital India”. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Information Technology and Law and Justice, will be one of the prominent speakers from India. He should be able to report to the “future world leaders”, how you can push ahead with a huge databank of biometric information named Aadhaar, which is being used as the cornerstone for digital payments and made mandatory for government payments and services – even if data security and privacy are a disaster, even if the necessary infrastructure is absent in large parts of the country and even if a constitutional court deems it illegal.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up