Sunday, November 30, 2008

Change we can believe in

So everything is back to the oft-dreaded perfect normalcy. The commandos have returned to their barracks. The politicians in their party offices scheming on new political offensives. The smugglers have resumed their shipments. The hawala is running in top shape. The babus are back in their municipal offices making space under their tables. The police are back to.. whatever Mumbai policemen usually do. The bereaved families are mourning in silence. And the City swings back to where it left off on 26th November.

And last but not least the everlasting sign of our nations progress: Thousands of masala TV channels and so-called news channels dishing out a combination of bullshit and sad excuses for entertainment to the masses. The people are satisfied. The sponsors are satisfied. The agencies are satisfied. The rating looks better than ever. Nothing can stop them, not even the death of a few hundred. Aaaaaah its just brilliant.

Some half backed 'geniuses' on the News Channels have equated this calamity with the one the Americans endured not so long ago. They call it "9/11". It wouldn't make much sense if we start calling it 26/11 since our months appear after the date. (Those crazy Americans change everything!). So to sound a bit cool our news anchors call the Mumbai attacks "India's 9/11". I know it's a sinister attempt to connect the two attacks to the same source.

Oh, and a reminder about that analogy to 9/11:. Right after 9/11, almost all American sitcoms and cable channels delayed new programming for weeks, to mourn their dead and to re-think the direction their nation needs to take. Such was their shock and their reaction to the events. They did not "bounce back" the next day. They did not show "resilience". And later they bounced back so hard that they landed in Afghanistan and kicked every butt in sight. For better or for worse they landed in Iraq and did some more butt kicking.

I should not be comparing our nation to the west.

But, this is not the time for us to sit before the idiot box and watch boob-shakers and bum-movers. I would urge our ardent television audience to voice your protest to them. And keep this terrible event fresh in the nations hear. If not for a year at least for a month.

So far most of the entertainment television channels have not disrupted regular programing. I can understand how this will affect those valuable ratings and sponsorships. But these are extra-ordinary times which call for extra-ordinary measures. Its natural for humans to try and forget unpleasant events and replace them with pleasant ones. This should not be the case here. The objective should not be to forget and forge ahead. We should forge ahead fueled by our spirit for change. And these memories should remain fresh in our minds. The media should keep the fire burning. Our people need constant reminding of these events in order to affect that change.

We cannot expect governments to do the right thing at their pace. Its time to question the delays and the failings of this operations. Its time to question why our intelligence and logistics failed. We cannot be satisfied with excuses as to why it took almost three days to neutralize 8 terrorists. We should not be satisfied with the resignations of a few ministers. Unfortunately we lack leaders who can inspire and lead. So let me quote Obama here. We need Change we can believe in.

There are minds in our nation that sympathize with these men who took our nation hostage for three days. Lets realize that this is the new reality we have to live with. Unless we are ready to acknowledge the real enemy there will be no solution to this menace. We have been consumed, to the point of no return, with extreme secularism that has numbed our minds into hopeless pacifism.

Unless we find the resolve and courage to stop religious extremism in our cities, villages, homes and minds, this will forever remain an escalating threat to our sovereignty.

p.s: Raj Thakkarey, Its safe man, you can come out now. Mumbai has been saved by brave Indians which also includes Biharis, Malayalees, Gujrathis, Rajasthanis and everyone else.

You may find this post also interesting സഹകരണ മതേതരത്വം എന്ന പുതിയ ഗോഷ്ടി


  1. Kaipps,
    As a sinister parallel, I rue these two days also for arranging comforts to a sucker of a bureaucrat in half a dozen pleasure resorts of Kerala, who would pretend haggling with the resort owners for a flat cut getting smart on the 26/11 indian turism debacle but at Govt. expense while at the same time,not caring to expose bounties from his wallet to pay the measly nothings to the Karikku vendors on the road. How could I have convinced these buggers that these arrangements got done through crooked tax-evaders in this town would cost the revenue helllllll of a lot in the coming days.

    The nation's babudom has been always venal. The nation is for sale. The TV fare just has made National stupor into spectacle. Fits us just fine !

  2. Pretty much everything you said is agreeable, except this :"...We have been consumed, to the point of no return, with extreme secularism that has numbed our minds into hopeless pacifism."

    I don't see how "extreme" secularism numbs someone into "hopeless pacifism". Are you implying that secularism is a hindrance to political/military action against Terrorism in this country ?

  3. സൂരജ്
    We are duty bound by our so called secularism not to question religious freedom. When Religious freedom infringes upon the freedom to live peacefully then I do not subscribe to such ideologies. We have misinterpreted secularism to mean non-interference in religious teachings. I say it is our right to know what is taught in these religious institutions. To examine and suggest changes to the sylabus. Just as no one has the right to pollute our environment, no one should pollute our young minds with such teachings.

  4. Kapially is right.
    It was not misinterpretation though, but hijacking of secularism under the garb of hurt sentiments.
    It is time to demand tolerance, rather than capitulate to the murderous monster of hurt sentiments.

  5. Unless we are ready to acknowledge the real enemy there will be no solution to this menace.
    കൈപേ :എല്ലാ മതത്തിനും യോജിച്ച ഫലഭൂയിഷ്ടമായ മണ്ണാണ് ഭാരതം, പൂവാണ്, പൂമ്പാറ്റയാണ്, പൂന്തോട്ടമാണു, എന്നൊക്കെ പാടി നടന്ന്,മതവിശ്വാസികള്‍ തമ്മില്‍ ആരു ആരെ ജയിക്കും എന്ന മത്സരത്തിലാണ്. മത്സരവേദിയില്‍ മതേതരം നേര്‍ത്ത് ഇല്ലാതാവുമ്പോള്‍ ലോകത്തെ ഒരു മഹത്തായ രാജ്യവും അതിന്റെ സംസ്കാരവും എന്തിനാണു തന്നെ ബലികൊടുക്കുന്നത് എന്ന് പോലും തിരിച്ചറിയാതെ ....Lets realize that this is the new reality we have to live with.

    സൂരജിനുള്ള മറുപടിയില്‍ പറഞ്ഞപോലെ “no one should pollute our young minds with such teachings.“
    മതേതര ഇന്‍ഡ്യയിലെ മതസ്വാതന്ത്ര്യത്തിന് എവിടം എങ്ങിനെ മൂക്കുകയറിടും എന്നതു ചര്‍ച്ച നടക്കേണ്ട ഒരു വിഷയം മാത്രമല്ല. :)

  6. i dont think secularism is a hindrance to political/military action against Terrorism .more over political extremism were also Dangerous like religious extremism / terrorism.

  7. ബഷീര്‍ വെള്ളറക്കാട്‌ / pb
    Secularism in its purest definition is the complete and absolute separation of state from the influence of religion(s) . By virtue of its culture and tradition India cannot disassociate itself from spirituality. The dominance of religion in everyday life is evident by the ridiculous number of religious holidays enjoyed by the population. The state actively encourages religious institutions in anticipation of seasonal tax revenues. State leaders visit their respective places of worship on tax payers time and money. Sponsor and fund the construction of religious institutions. Indian secularism should be better understood as a state that includes and encourages all and sundry religions.

    I do not want to further re-define the Indian version of secularism. Secularism in India can at best be defined as a joke.

  8. Annaa,

    Few more fundamental changes needs to be done.

    a) It was shameful the way Advani, Bal Thakarey, Modi n Co. were questioning the integrity of Karkarey, while he was investigating Malegaon Blast case. Modi even asked him to be subjected to Truth Serum test. Why are we allowing politics to meddle in Anti-terror operations?

    b) Now that the terrorist attacks are over, what steps are each states taking, to make sure there is no terrorist attack in their respective states?

    c) What if someone attacks kerala. Will we have a police commando force with AK 47's situated in three centers (tvm / kochin / calicut) so as to respond immediately to any terrorist attack in the state?

    d) What about the big Metros - Chennai, Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi, Hydrabad - will we have commando force bases in each of these metros?

    e) When Mumbai has so many z-Categoried and y-Categoried VIP's, (CM / Balthakkarey / etc etc) and when each of them are protected by a number of NSG commandos, why were we not able to take out a couple of commando's from each of these protective units, and strike back within an hour of the attacks?

    f) When an attack like this happens again, what are the steps of actions to be performed? is there a guideline / check book? Who assumes total charge of operations? Is there a hierarchial command structure to deal with such a situation.

    g) Why was the media allowed in the vicinity?


    Keeping all these aside, We should take the muslim community into confidence. No one, in the name of religion, should feel that India is not their motherland. Hindu extremist forces needs to be effectively controlled, for such a thing to happen.

  9. Kaips,

    "...By virtue of its culture and tradition India cannot disassociate itself from spirituality. The dominance of religion in everyday life is evident by the ridiculous number of religious holidays enjoyed by the population. The state actively encourages religious institutions...."

    You indeed have a point there.
    But let us think practically.
    The cultural and religious diversity of this land is so different from any other secular republic in this world. India's distinction lies in the fact that there is no single major "unified" religion - Hinduism, though followed by nearly 84% of the population, is a loose collection of polytheistic sects and tribes for all practical purposes. And unlike the secular Western Democracies, our cultural and religious diversity comes not from recent immigrants or descendants of slave-trade, but from peoples who have been here in this land for centuries. Their integration into India's society has not been seamless in the post independence era, yet they share all the problems that Indian societies as a whole face.
    Considering these historic aspects, attempts to curb in-land terrorism by restricting religious activities or state-sponsored promotion of religions is not going to help the cause and most likely would only alienate such societies from the political processes. Take for example the State funding for Hajj pilgrims or systems like the "Devaswom Board" or the countless religious celebrations as you mentioned. A strictly secular society shouldn't be supportive of these, not at least with funds from the taxpayers. But the 'Indian brand of secularism' has broadened the conventional definitions for better or for worse. That's a fact and a reality that many of us elitists need to come to terms with. We cannot follow the French in banning the hijab at Universities or cut short our religious holidays to our own versions of 'thanks giving' 'Christmas' or 'July 4'.

    Nevertheless, there is no demonstrable evidence that this 'Indian brand of secularism' really promotes religious intolerance or terrorism except for the right-wing rhetoric against Madrasas or Christianizing Adivasis.
    I agree that the modern threat of Islamic Terrorism/Extremism is a global phenomenon that has roots in Pan-islamism and Politicized Islam. But quite often reports and behavioural studies like those of the UK's MI5 suggest that these are people who are actually ignorant of the teachings of their own religion; not to mention the educational and socioeconomic backwardness that push these young men to vulnerability, especially in our Nation.

    These extremists feed on the global issues involving religious sects and muster support locally from the insecurities of religious groups. Perhaps, one of the aims of an assault like that on Mumbai is to create an atmosphere of religious hatred and spark riots that finally comes round full circle providing more terrorist recruits. The historic fact that these groups were (or are) promoted and funded by the world's super powers themselves directly or indirectly through petro-dollars, shouldn't be overlooked.
    A long term solution can emerge only when all these are curbed. But that is not a solution India can hope to look up to, at least for some time from now.
    What immediately needs to be done is a revamp of our National security, Defence Research, Military Forces and Intelligence services, which despite eating away nearly Rs.100,000 crore off our annual central budget, has pathetically failed us at almost every crucial moment including in Mumbai.

    (sorry for the lengthy comment :)


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