Author and self-proclaimed ethical hacker Ankit Fadia on Monday, claimed to have been selected as one of the brand ambassadors to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Digital India' initiative.
In a Facebook post on his official page, Fadia posted a few pictures, including a certificate, which said it was appointing him as an ambassador for one year to "propagate the products and applications being launched under the programme."
"Humbled and honored to be appointed as one of the Brand Ambassadors to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Digital India initiative," he wrote in his post.
However, there has been no official announcement from the government on this. While many congratulatory messages were posted by people on his Facebook account, social media in general was amused and even dejected. Some even questioned if the certificate Fadia posted was genuine.
âYes, it is a real certificate. I got this in July. I think there are other brand ambassadors too, though I am not sure who they are. The certificate was given at the Digital India event that was held in Delhi in July,â Fadia told The News Minute.
Asked how come he decided to make a certificate signed in July public only now, he said, âThough I got this in July, I wanted to initially keep a low profile. One of my mandates is to promote Digital India. It was a good time to post the certificate online as the PM is on a Digital India event in Silicon Valley.â
So what should the ambassadors do? âThe mandate is to promote and support all the components of the digital India program. Whenever there are any events, the ambassadors may be invited,â says Fadia who is currently in Dubai.
He however did not want to comment on the net neutrality debate and said that as far as he is concerned digital India is about making internet available to all.
âLook at the Prime Minister, he is speaking of hackathons and innovative start-ups. It is a great sign and will encourage the next generation innovators in the country. India has been a hub for outsourcing and never for innovation. But I donât know any previous leader who has had this kind of a vision,â he said.
Fadia is no stranger to controversy. The ethical hacker turned author, has been blamed for extensive plagiarism.
A Forbes report titled 'Ankit Fadia Revealed' had accused him of falsely building a brand image and narrates how their discussion frequently came to an impasse after neither party could prove or disprove the allegations against Fadia.
The report also counters Fadia's claims of shooting to fame after hacking the website of CHIP when he was 13, as the writer of the Forbes report used to be the editor of the magazine himself.
Reacting to the Forbes article, Fadia said, âThere are people who like my work and others who donât like my work at all. I started as hacker, wrote books and hosted a show. Lot of hackers in India didnât like that and think they know more than me, that probably is true. They did not like the guy who was getting so much attention. No one stopped them from hacking, writing books or anchoring shows.â
On allegations of plagiarism, Fadia dismissed them outright. âI have now signed a new contract for 6 more books. These allegations have been around, I am sure the publishing house must have done its investigation. I have never claimed that I have invented all the terms that I describe in my book, so obviously these are terms that have been around and I simply used them.â
The Sunday Guardian in a report titled 'Ethical hacker Ankit Fadia is a fake' also spoke to people who have claimed that the author was a 'fraud.'
A security professional told the newspaper that "The first book that Fadia 'wrote' at the age of 14, The Unofficial Guide to Ethical Hacking, was a little over 32% plagiarized from other security publications and websites."
The security professional also says that Fadia's claims that his website on hacking was ranked the second best in the world by the FBI was untrue, as the investigative agency had no such system of ranking.
Another blogger told the newspaper "The masses see computer security as some sort of dark magic whereas it is a systematic process, a science. Hence, these people can be easily fooled by the likes of Fadia. The other aspect is obviously shoddy journalism. Papers print whatever catches the readers' attention. A child prodigy in computers does just that and our 'idol crazy' nation laps it up."
Digital India Ambassadors
Reports had earlier suggested that the government would announce young techie achievers as brand ambassadors for its campaign, rather than celebrities.
"By announcing names of young achievers, the government wants to send out a message to the world that India is âseriousâ about digitisation and has some young entrepreneurs who started from scratch and are making billions today," Business Line had quoted a source as saying.
The Prime Minister had also handpicked Kruti Tiwari, an IIT-JEE topper from Indore to be associated with the campaign.
So thatâs the story. Ankit Fadia maintains that he is a Digital India Ambassador, now itâs Government of Indiaâs turn to confirm or deny,