Friday, November 28, 2008

A Call for Rationalism amidst Rashness: Mumbai Terror Attacks

Most reactions to the Mumbai attacks that were seen on the Television had two sets of people to blame: 1. Politicians; 2. Pakistanis.
Mumbaikars were angry, felt let down and were frustrated to the core. A Mumbai politician announced that the captured militant was a "Pakistani", his voice simmering with anger. Famous personalities said they were tired at the relentless expectation of "Resilience" on the part of Mumbaikars. Reporters were visibly emotional and shaken, having covered the episode from close range all through. Some feared a "Rash" reaction within India, with one set of people pitted against the other.
Understandably, it was "Emotions" everywhere. To attack the heart of a country in broad daylight, to spray bullets on by-standers using a police patrol vehicle, to slay unrelated travellers in a busy Railway station, to hold foreign guests to ransom and slaughter, to cut loose and run amock with loads of ammunitions in a Heritage Hotel that many fondly associate their growing up and their pasts with - one would need to be a saint not to be "Emotional".
The NSG operation has been steady, measured and systematic. But would it undo the losses of lives? Would it restore the tarnished image of the Nation? Would it wipe those tears and bring smiles? Could it bring back the same parents to the child that was rendered an orphan with a single finger on the trigger? Would the ATS have the same Chief again? To be "sane" and not to get "emotional" with these nagging questions may just be too much to ask for. With every cry, with every sigh, with every drop of blood on the floor, with every slain corpse that is carried out of the hotels, with every anxious moment of wait by the hapless relatives and friends, there is this "WHY???", soaked in "Emotions".
However, extra-ordinary situations demand "Rationale" to take the upper hand over "emotions".
If "Thinkers" like Shobha De lose it and challenge the politicians on TV in an emotional outburst, it is not just herself, but a lot of others that she is going to influence with emotions. To reinforce general opinion and shape popular feelings in an emotional mould is not the best of acts in an emergency as this. If everyone is to get bogged down by the scale of the horror and get overpowered by their own emotions, who would get to the "Root" of the larger issue?
The need of the hour is, more than reactions, more than "Responses", the willingness to face reality, the resolve to change and the ability to preempt and take steps towards the "Solution"!
Any form of "Reaction" or "Hatred" will only complicate the already complex puzzle of senseless acts of terrorism. Hatred will only fuel the fire - and fire does not care which side of it you are in. It burns the perpetrator, the affected and the one who inflicts, all the same. Blame, hatred, taking sides, vowing revenge, any extreme "Emotion" is bound to be counter-productive, no matter what your stance is. What is required is restraint, responsible response and a sense of collective responsibility towards one cause: Peace!
Pakistan: It has to take a real hard look at its side of the fence. It will take time. But it needs to have the resolve to see its face as it is, in the mirror. Pakistan has not been flourishing by any stretch of imagination. Dictatorial rules have been ruining its economy. It's high time it reorganised its priorities.
How long could "Kashmir" be its single-point agenda? How long would it let itself be taken for a ride by its own factions? How long would it want to hold its own progress?
Every nation has the right to thrive; and terrorism is that fire that knows no difference between its target and its starter. The nation that actually takes the toll of its own terrorism is Pakistan.
Not that the Government sponsors terrorists; but it definitely needs to take a very very tough stance against any form of militancy within its borders.
Indian Politics: It needs to behave as one Nation, not an accumulation of states or a congregation of parties. It needs to rise above petty politics. And it needs to reassure every citizen, including the Minorities, that India stands for the very essence of Secularism and that every loyal citizen has the right for safety and feeling of security.
Indian politicians must realise that they are not in power to play games. Political parties must win on policies, deliverables and real productive action; they must play an active part in educating the public of what's going on and must be willing to relinquish power if their low levels of performance and the people who elected them, demand so. They must know that politics is not a business venture without any ethical strings attached but is a noble service that demands dedication.
Indian Systems: There is no such thing as an "Indian System" till date. In the Mumbai episode, a simple first step of cardoning off the disturbed area, securing it and preventing people from getting on to the scene of action was not practised, before the prestigious Commandoes planned their moves. To have herds of people all over as if they are watching a Tamasha is ample demonstration of a society that is devoid of any semblance of a "System".
The system has to encompass every aspect of governance. Intelligence, for one, has been non-existant in this case. Post-mortems would anyway reveal how and from where the terrorists checked in at the Hotels with guns, bombs and ammunition for their baggage. But to let this planned and co-ordinated crime happen in the Heart of Mumbai is display of abysmally low levels if Intelligence. How could such a system be endowed with the responsibility of running the governance of a Nation with a billion souls? Why were not the coast lines secured? We were talking of preparedness for the next Tsunami a few years back. How prepared are we to monitor the seemingly innocuous boats that sail into our shores?
Systems! India lacks dangerously on them. If the Government does not realise how dangerously it has been living, the next attack could destabilise the economy and even the military.
The Indian Judiciary: Let's not discuss the obvious Anti-Terrorism Laws. What about the right to Equality and Justice? How tough are the laws against any form of Inflammatory remarks or ideologies? Of what levels of significance are the laws that prevent attrocities on minorities by the armed forces and other forces in power? How balanced is the Judiciary in dealing with Justice to everyone, irrespective of one's religion?
The Judiciary needs to make a strong statement of sorts that Justice, indeed, has its eyes blind-folded when weighing the scales. Justice should not only be given, but also seem to be given.
The Hindutva Forces: They have no necessity to feel insecure in the first place; nor do they have to feel their homelands being taken away or their religious sentiments eroded by other religions. They are the majority in this vast nation; they ought to take responsibility towards the minorities.
How good it would be if Nation stood ahead of sentiments? To protect one's ground does not mean attacking the other. To make people believe in a religion is not accomplished by force. And the Hindu Religion needs no testimony to its variety and strength of resources that has taken it forward over the centuries. The Hindutva forces have every reason to act in a mature manner in guiding the Nation forwad.
The Muslim Intelligentia: They have their responsibilities spelt out more clearly and louder than ever before. Religions are no ordinary statements; they are full of wisdom. The only difference among religions is the way this age-old treasure of wisdom is personified. The paths towards spirituality are many; but the destination is one.
The Muslim Intelligentia and religious Heads need to walk that extra mile in propogating their own religion to the new generation in a way that is appealing to them in all its essence. And what better place and time to start such a Movement of Educating the children and youth about the real values of the Religion, than here and now?
It would be extremely unfortunate if precious life is wasted away in strife towards false ideologies. It is criminal to allow vested interests man-handle the Holy Scriptures for their own personal gains. It would be weakness to allow the well meaning books of religion to be misinterpreted towards vengeance and retaliation. No one can ever Kill in the name of God!
The religious heads can easily mould public and young opinions in the right way. It is their responsibility.
The Government and the Society: It is tragic to allow Terrorism to hijack the daily lives of a Nation. Years of efforts, miles of progress, life-times of growth and dreams would be shattered in a moment of rashness.
The focus is on weeding out Terrorism. But to weed out is not to storm; it more than definitely, requires calm. Yes, let the commandoes root out the terrorists and restore peace. But restoring can never be as good as Cultivating! The emphasis has to be on Cultivating Peace. That requires a healthy soil, the best of seeds, fine nurturing, right irrigation, proper fencing, consistent care and attention, and the highest levels of dedication towards the long term objectives.
If Terror strikes humanity at a drop of a hat, let's set ourselves a step or two back to see WHY it strikes so frequently, so regularly. More than a sect, more than a state, more than a religion, more than a Nation, Humanity matters. After years of progress, why would we want to be canon fodder? After centuries of evolution, why return to the stone ages?
It would not be too high an asking to have "Peace" as the Theme for the next one year, the world over. All it requires is resolve and a moment of reflection as to where we have progressed with regard to human beings treating fellow human beings. What does a Terrorist feel? Why does he find himself forced into Terrorism or induced and propelled into flames of hatred? What makes his view of the world so negative? Why is he convinced every other citizen or nation or religion targets him and his society?
All of these take one step: Come out of your "Emotions"! With every screen of emotion, the picture seems flawed and distorted. And the first step forward is the responsibility of people who can Influence others' thought processes. It requires voluntary initiative with involvement and a sense of purpose. It's all about injecting positivism into evolving minds!
If this can be done with focus, we can start thinking of stability.


Heretic said...

Nobody wants to deeply analyse the roles of the religions in such violence. More than Pakistan or Politicians it is the inherent 'identity' that religious provide is the problem and the irrational content of the scriptures etc which is above questioning.

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