Attention – Due To Allegations of Plagiarism, This Article Is Highly Suspect

I recently got a mailer from my bank in a nice sleek envelope. Inside it was an invitation. An interesting kind of invitation. It invited me to register my phone for the “Do not call” option to guard against tele marketing calls, which the mailer said was a “facility” being extended by my bank. The letter explicitly said that only the phone that I registered on the form would be inoculated against attacks from tele marketers; any other phone that I might possess could be and possibly would be used by the Bank to offer their products , almost none of which I would ever use.

However I am amazed at the vocabulary of the mailer I received which assumes that intrusion into my private space is the bank’s right and my personal privacy is a privilege. In normal parlance it is like saying that kicking the door open and walking into my home is the norm and if I actually want some one to ring the bell and then wait for me to answer it , then I should fill up forms and let people know. When you put it this away, one can only be aghast at the low levels of sensitivity that we have in society today and the courtesy breach that has occurred along the way. One could be in funeral or lying on a sick bed or be in some other difficult situation and there is a brash, uncouth voice on the phone selling you some pre approved loan or an offer to transfer your credit card balance. These kinds of callers seem to take no cognizance of the fact that a typical client if he needed any of their products, would not be sitting and waiting passively for some phone call, they would walk over to the bank and obtain information in far more exhaustive detail than a phone call can provide.

Earlier, some weeks ago the British Television channel, ITV went ahead and aired an extremely controversial documentary about the crash which killed Diana, Princess of Wales despite pleas from her sons to refrain as the film contained extremely disturbing pictures. One showed Diana receiving oxygen from a French doctor as she lies dying, although her face is obscured. Other pictures include the wrecked Mercedes and a view through the back of an ambulance in which the Princess was treated. Although after massive public outcry, the film was some what edited, Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel was still aired. The Princes’ private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton publicly said that “It is their mother’s last moments on earth and it’s an invasion of her privacy. They are chipping away what little dignity there is in death” but no one cared. Business and TRP ratings were more important than privacy and dignity.

In India too, the media had gone overboard on several sensitive occasions. I remember when the late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan and a couple of years earlier, Dhirubhai Ambani lay dying , the television coverage was almost like a ball by ball commentary of who came , who went , who cried , who wept and who said what and all that trivia. I wonder how the mourners felt having a microphone thrust into their faces as they walked past grieving and mourning. A few weeks ago, major concerns were raised at the height of the Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan, the media, particularly the electronic media came under the scrutiny of the Supreme court the media a has a vital role to play and there should not be any occasion for a grievance that because of any irresponsible coverage by the media tension/violence has escalated and has led to destruction of property and/or loss of lives or causing of injuries.”

The burgeoning of telecom and media in recent years has certainly revolutionized our lives but these bugs and viruses that invaded our privacy and done so beyond the limits of all decorum have also multiplied. Just think of it – a decade or so ago, there was just one state operated telecom company and they brought out fat telephone directories every other year listing out not only every one’s telephone number but also their street address.These directories were free available to any one and every one and yet hardly any one got junk mail or intrusive calls because of them. Unlisted phone numbers were few and far between and were mostly for the celebrities. Today with so many operators around and people switching operators at their whim and fancy, telephone directories are all but gone. And yet every one seems to have every one’s number and the tele marketers along with the data mining companies probably know more about ourselves, our debts, bank balance, the kind of credit card we have and how much we owe on them, the kinds of loans we need or might want and endless other things, which we ourselves might not be aware of. The thought is horrifying as much as the reality of the fact that today privacy is a privilege available but to a rare few even if we are no Princess Diana but just an anonymous mass of population

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