Life's Like That

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

We, the People

Like most of the country, I spent a good part of last week glued to the television or the internet, unable to believe what I was seeing. As I watched the Taj burn, the terrorists speed by shooting people from a police van, and Barkha Dutt screech cretinous questions, I raged and ranted about Pakistan, insensitive media, inefficient Intellegence Bureau and corrupt politicians.

And then I saw a crowd of waving cheering grinning people gathered outside Nariman House even as the encounter was taking place. I saw families in the neighbouring buildings hanging out of their windows with little children gaping at the smoke erupting out of Nariman House as people died inside. I saw masses of people sitting on terraces dangling their legs over the side laughing and waving out to the TV cameras. The news channels would have us believe they were cheering for the commandos but it looked more like they were trying to get on national TV. My friend whose colleague was reporting from the spot says they were expressing their excitement on catching a glimpse of Barkha Dutt. If I hadn’t known better I could have sworn all those people were out there celebrating the Indian cricket team’s victory over England. Just watching them was a deeply shameful experience.

I don’t know where to begin. What were those people thinking really? How macabre and ghoulish would a person have to be to find it in his heart to cheer and wave and (according to my friend’s colleague) molest women reporters at a time like that? How uneducated is our public, the great Indian junta, to collect en masse on the roads, obstruct the passage of army vehicles and ambulances and offer the terrorists who escaped earlier a golden opportunity to add to the body count by coming back and letting loose a couple of grenades and a couple of rounds from their AK 47s. How could the authorities allow such a huge crowd to congregate? Shouldn’t the families in the neighbouring houses been evacuated long back?

Today, everyone is busy criticizing our political leadership even as a disgusting old chief minister insults the grief stricken family of a dead soldier, even as the CM of Maharashtra giggles and smiles at a press conference, justifying the presence of his idiot son and a has-been film director at war torn Taj the day after the siege ended, even as his deputy calls this a “small incident” even as our netas try desperately to deflect public ire by pointing fingers across the border.

I have no doubt that Pakistan was involved in this latest act of terrorism just like they have been involved in most of those that preceeded this. Zardari’s emotional outburst claiming that his heart was bleeding at Mumbai’s horror makes me want to throw up. However, I also believe what happened in Mumbai last week is largely OUR fault.

The Indian government, RAW, Maharashtrian government….all the people entrusted with the security and safety of the nation, are responsible for leaving our borders so open to infiltration despite having Pakistan for a neighbour. History has proved again and again Pakistan’s anti India stance (I don’t mean the common man in Pakistan I mean the ISI and the military), we have lived through a Kargil in recent times. If you are callous about guarding your borders even after that then it’s your fault if your country is invaded by terrorists. To use GreatBong’s analogy, you have a known felon as a neighbor and you still leave your house unlocked, you are bloody well responsible if your house gets robbed.

It doesn’t end with the netas though. We as citizens of this country are equally responsible for the Mumbai siege. As the world’s largest democracy we have brought these horrible leaders into positions of power, by either voting for them or worse, NOT voting at all. I am responsible for Mumbai, for using the pathetic choice of candidates as an excuse to not vote. By allowing the same callous uneducated crowd I described earlier to use my vote and bring someone to power, not because he is capable (or given the existing situation, less evil than the others) but because he gave them colour TVs, cash,jewellery, bags of rice. Its time we shook ourselves out of our stupor. NOTHING will change in this country if WE don’t act now. Vote. Please. If negative voting is not allowed then go vote for an independent candidate (who is also likely to be corrupt, but it’s better than allowing an even more corrupt political party to divert your vote). Register with today. Don’t restrict citizen action to opening FaceBook groups and lighting candles in your windows. Change cannot come about in one day, it will take time, and no time like the present to start the process. Be more vigilant as you go about your day to day business, for gods sake don’t crib and complain when you are asked to open your bag /car for security checks. Insist that the security personnel at malls /multiplexes/ any other public places do their job thoroughly. If you see someone else trying to bluster their way out of security check create a scene, catch him, call him/her a terrorist for all I care, but ensure that he or she is checked properly before being allowed in. You’ve escaped these attacks so far but next time you might not be so lucky!