Monday, February 11, 2013

Creepy Crawly Update

The visitor counter on my blog disappeared after I published the Midnight's Children review.

It has done so a number of times over the years, always in the wake of a post with a significant number of readers.

The disappearance of the counter led me to check what Webmaster Tools had to say about the health of the site. This is what I found:

  • On 2 February 2012 the Google search engine had indexed 217 URLs on my site and none had been blocked by a robot.txt. (A robot.txt is used by the owner of a web site to block search engines from indexing outdated information.)
  • On 9 September 2012, the number of indexed URLs on my site peaked at 774; since then it has dropped precipitously and now stands at 529. Webmaster Tools says such a drop indicates the site has been hacked.
  •  On 3 February 2013 (the latest data available), the number of indexed URLs was 529 and the number of blocked URLs stood at 594.
  • On two occasions the site had returned "not found" error notices to the Google search bot.
  • The number of other sites linked to the Undiplomatictimes blog has dropped from over 450 to 64.
  • The "search" function on the blog has been disabled, so readers cannot find an old item by typing in a keyword. 
These developments mean that some technically competent entity -- institutional or individual -- wants to minimize the number of readers I have.

Heading my suspect list are the rich and powerful people who run India's anti-national "elite" media.  They have the motive and the means to hack and censor.

It is also possible that the nebulous Thought Police who had me in their sights in New York have followed me to India.

The TP were a constant presence in my life during the decades I spent covering the United Nations. In the post 9/11 period, they put bugs in my phones and car, and just so I would know, occasionally brought them noisily alive with police chatter or racist hate radio. They would also routinely delay invitations to prevent my attendance at receptions and other events that would be news-gathering opportunities.
[Ironically, the TP also arranged widespread photocopying of my copyrighted $200-a-year newsletter to supply copies to UN insiders and deny me critically needed funds. On one occasion, alerted by a UN staff-member who had been told to photocopy my weekly output for distribution to top brass, I complained to the Secretary-General's Spokesman. That led to a meeting with an official of the UN Legal Office who threatened to take away my Press credentials if I pressed the matter. I wrote to the Secretary-General asking if he supported that threat and elicited an offer to settle. After doing some research I submitted an estimate of 135 pirated copies over several years. It led to nothing. A New York lawyer I consulted told me not to bother pursuing the matter, as the UN was notorious for copyright violation and could not be brought to book because it was immune from prosecution.]  

In earlier Creepy Crawly posts from Pondicherry I have noted the activities of the TP after my return to India. (See here and here.) Since then, the intimidating surveillance seems to have stopped, at least for now.

In Goa the surveillance continues but I get the feeling it is benign and maybe even protective. Perhaps someone in the Intelligence Bureau has found time to actually read my blog.

PS: All this should perhaps be seen as a continuation of the theme of the previous post on how the British dominate the global narrative.

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