India, after initially brushing aside any bad intent on the part of the United States to reports of electronic eavesdropping, has done a turnaround expressing apprehension over being subject to widespread surveillance by its powerful friend.
New Delhi had all but stood isolated in its conciliatory reaction to the US’ snooping on electronic communication including e-mails that passed through India. But, in a reversal last week, the foreign ministry informed the US embassy in Delhi that spying was not acceptable.
It may not have been a coincidence that the adverse reaction came at a time when the US National Security Adviser General Keith Brian Alexander was in India, according to media reports.
India’s unhappiness was in sharp contrast to its reaction in June when news of the surveillance first surfaced. At the time, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid was quoted as saying, “To get access to content of communications is one thing, and being able to study by way of computer software patterns of communications is two different things.”
India last week told US officials that they now know that it was not mere data-collection of communication patterns but something more than that.
The revelations of US surveillance were originally made known to the world by National Security Agency contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden who leaked classified information on the subject. Snowden is now reportedly in Russia under asylum.
What surprised other countries about India’s reluctance to condemn the surveillance earlier was the fact that even the traditional US allies in Europe and in Latin America were upset following the revelations. Brazilian President
Dilma Rousseff had in protest even cancelled a scheduled trip in September to the US.
According to media reports, India’s allies South Africa and Brazil among others put pressure on it to take a tough stand against the surveillance.
India, reports said, is also exploring ways to strengthen its electronic security and is approaching international institutions including the United Nations for assistance