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!


  • Making the common public aware would be a big step that incidents like people seeing folks running out of fishing boats can be reported quickly.

    Also, if this time also PoK camps are not taken out by India....this is just going to become a 'chota haadsa' in a bada shehar in public memory.

    By Blogger Soham Pablo, at 4:16 AM  

  • Oh How right you are. In more than one ways we deserve this treatment. Its as good as inviting the terrorists , offering them the famed Indian Hospitality !!!!!! as far as the on lookers were concerned it was another day, another tamasha a twist to their mundane existence.They live so steeped in violence emotional and physical that all this noise about the terrorists and the pretence of the high society's first hand encounter with loss and sorrow that they find it all a spectacle. sensitivity will make their existence unbearable for them.

    But our politicians need to be blamed though. And like it or not they are the policy makers and we must vote to put the fear of loss of power or removal in them. power afterall is the most irrestibile vice!

    By Blogger Jayashree, at 4:19 AM  

  • Good points, Ron. Basically, start small.


    By Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock, at 1:06 AM  

  • Soham, military action against Pakistan has not been ruled out.Lets hope its not as ineffective as US strike on Afghanistan.

    Jayashree, of course our politicians are to blame. Which is why we as citizens of this democratic country need to demand accountability. The only way that will happen is if we start getting more involved in the democratic process and lose the chalta hai attitude.

    JAP, its impossible to bring about change overnight, especially in a country as complex and huge as India, without a military coup of some sort. And that really would not be a good idea. I hear many people ranting about how we need a dictator and how democracy has failed in this country, I too have said similar things. But a dictator would be so much worse.Small steps to begin the process of change is the only way to go.

    Can you believe it, on Saturday, November 29th, I was at a mall in Bangalore and the security guards did not even check my bag properly? This was DURING the Mumbai encounter. She just saw the main section, did not even bother moving the shawl covering everything and waved me on. When I insisted she check everything the people behind me complained loudly till Rahul asked them if they would prefer to be killed by a bomb blast instead of waiting 5 extra minutes in line. They shut up after that. This callousness will be the death of India if we dont do something about it...NOW.

    By Blogger Ron, at 3:26 AM  

  • Nice point here.. i did not realize about the security check at malls. though it has been quite sometime being in India, I see that the security forces should be really strict at all the public places given the common-man look those involved in this bloodshed have. It is common to just let go if its a woman or any college looking guy without thoroughly checked...but now it seams to be very important.

    By Blogger Rama Deepthi Muddu, at 3:16 PM  

  • Well-written and apt. Echoes my feeling on the attack that has forced down our throats a new kind of REALITY. The reality of living in an unsafe India, strife with terror, and god forbid, war.

    I wish we, the common man, could join hands and do something.

    By Blogger Annapoorna R Shinu, at 12:50 AM  

  • Really good one. Mostly the citizens have to be blamed for bringing the wrong ones to power and cheering up while your neighbour is burning to death. I wonder when our India will change...Also leaving the borders open and being friendly to the officials and the groups that are very much anti-Indian is insane...Having a robber as a neighbour is very unfortunate indeed....Good points all the way..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:48 AM  

  • I so agree with you! I saw the live telecast on the internet from UK and kept wondering 'why' were there so many people outside these venues and 'why on earth' were the journalists giving away the details of the nsg commandoes plans was like they had left their grey cells at home!

    By Blogger Sumona, at 10:02 AM  

  • Oh, finally someone who saw thru all those smiles and waves! The same thing happened after the delhi blasts-people came to GK market to gape and be seen on Tv and they were projected as sending out a message to the terrorists about not being afraid (huh!) by the same Barkha Dutt!

    By Blogger LAK, at 5:57 AM  

  • scared me of weddings...truly apt!! :)

    By Blogger, at 5:37 AM  

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