The Hindu newspaper has, starting today, begun publishing online India related cables from Wikileaks. In a note, Editor N. Ram writes that the publication has access to 5,100 US Embassy and consulate cables relevant to India, aggregating to six million words. This is a part of the Cablegate release which began at the end of November 2010, and provides insight into the way US diplomats have operated within India, and the information they’ve relayed back to the State Department in Washington D.C. Wikileaks has a standalone (non-commercial) arrangement with The Hindu, which was initiated in the second week of December 2010. The cables cover politicians, diplomats, businessmen, journalists, India’s relationship with various countries, specific issues like nuclear policy, terrorism, bureaucracy, and more importantly, an overview of 26/11, Kashmir, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, among other things. Apart from The Hindu, Cablegate has involved other publications like The Guardian, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, and El Pais.
National Security, National Security, National Security
These cables would probably come under the purview of issues related to National Security, but given the public nature of Wikileaks and the fact that the Hindu is involved, it’s unlikely that either Wikileaks or The Hindu will be blocked. But remember one thing – the Indian government is giving itself arbitrary powers to block anything they want. It will usually not be publicly known initiatives like Wikileaks, but small sites. We’re not saying that there will be misuse, but that there is significant potential for misuse. The worst part is, if a site is blocked for you – you’ll probably never know.
5100 cables is a lot, but the Hindu hasn’t set up a separate page with just the cables (we couldn’t find it), without weaving a story and perspective around it. Disintermediation at it’s best allows raw data to be made available in the public domain, open to interpretation and analysis. Some cables are listed within the articles themselves, so if you find them, our suggestion would be to choose a few cables, and provide your take on the issue. Preferably, use the hashtag #IndiaCables if you’re writing about it on twitter.
In the past, controversial raw data was published online in the recent past: previously, the Niira Radia audio tapes that were published by Outlook and Open last year. In that case, transcription of the audio was crowdsourced.