Thoughts & Ideas

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Some Questions

Over the past few days, I like most Indians have been glued to the TV watching the unfortunate incidents happening in Bombay and the inevitable discussions and viewpoints being aired. This in turn has raised some questions in my mind. I do not know how pertinent or important they are, but I find them troubling enough to force me to write it down.

Hasn't Bombay been victim of terrorist action repeatedly in the recent past? - YES

As the country’s financial capital and one of the largest cities of not the country but also of the world isn’t there a large probability of it being continually targeted? - YES

Don't we have basic contingency planning to handle such eventualities? Appears not.

How and why do I come to this conclusion?

  • Because the thought of raising / stationing of a an elite commando force nearer Bombay has not occurred to our security experts or the government till now.
  • Over the 3 days the drama was enacted I did not come across a single public announcement as to what the general public should do. – Things like not go out unless absolutely necessary, localities to avoid, forming help groups, locations where blood could be donated etc. etc. The same lack of coordinated planning / transparency was apparent during the floods in Bombay.

In an exchange between Jayanthi Natrajan and Shobha De (not much to choose from between the two), Mrs. Natarajan recalled the assassinations of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi to reinforce her claim of being holier than thou. I would like to pose a counter question to Mrs. Natarajan. How long does the Congress party plan to continue to encash these 2 assassinations to legitimize their claim to the political throne.

Mrs. Natrajan was also upset on charges of politicians doing nothing positive for the country. Her retort to Mrs. De was that she should try and become an MP. And I always believed that in a democracy the general public has the right to question their elected representatives. Does Mrs. Natrajan’s response reflect her basic non belief in democracy?

The terrorist attacks happened at a number of locations in Bombay. But the TV news channels were nearly exclusively focused on the incidents happening in and around the two 5 star hotels. Does this also mean that the lives of only those who happen to frequent such hotels have any meaning. The rest of us are as good as cockroaches, flies, and ants to live and die namelessly and unlamented?

We are quite incensed by these incidents in Bombay and maybe quite rightly so. But terrorist activities regularly happen in large parts of our country. Landmine blasts which kill scores of police personnel doing combing operations in Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, North East etc. Killing orgies between forwards and backwards and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, all over the country and all the time. But there is no live TV streaming these incidents into our drawing rooms. So we sleep soundly. Few TV channels bother to visit these sites as a follow up measure. But then why do the Barkha Dutts and Arnab Goswamis talk themselves hoarse by continually speaking for 48 hours during the siege of Taj & Oberoi? Are they being true to their professions? Is their any integrity of the media profession on display when they do such selective reporting?

Why don't we immediately question the religious affinity of the Maoists, the ULFA, Veerappan when we hear of their dastardly acts. But do we hesitate for even a moment in calling some terrorists – Islamic? Or start pointing fingers at Pakistan? Is there any integrity in our thinking and our actions when we do so?

Are terrorists not human being like you and me? Born in families but growing up in circumstances which are beyond them? Most so called terrorists are young men who may have yet to achieve any maturity in their thinking. Do we give a thought to those who indoctrinate and train them? Why not?

What is the dividing line between a terrorist and a freedom fighter? Weren’t Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, JP et al classified as terrorists by the British and don't we remember them as freedom fighters and feel proud of their deeds?

Don't all of us tacitly support the growth of terrorists by turning a blind eye to the numerous incidents of injustice which happen all around us all the time?