Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Only a month ago, Mumbai was under the attack of terrorists. Almost all people, from my maid servant, to our building sweeper and my colleagues at the school were glued to the news channels or reading newspapers as never before. All were unanimous in condemning the dastardly acts. All expressed shock at the  indiscriminate violence, sympathy towards the affected people and pride in the brave efforts of the rescuers. 

But although angry, we were more upset at the mismanagement of the authorities. The purported callous remarks of insensitive leaders aggrieved us more than the actual attacks. We worried that the corruption in our bureaucracy and the inefficiency of our defence systems would one day be the cause of our fall. When it was time for disaster management, our so called leaders fled from the scene. Every school child observed that the Raj Thackereys of the city are only there when the going is good. We had students, corporate bosses, media personnel, actors and eminent personalities expressing their outrage along with the common man on the road. Talks of electoral reforms, bringing accountability into our leadership were hot topics of discussions. We had talk shows, candle marches, black ribbon protests, but ask the common man if we should declare war on Pakistan in retaliation, and he will say, "Usse kya hoga sahab? Wahan ke begunaahon ko maarke hamare sipahi thode hi wapas aayenge? Marne  wale to chale gaye. "

Note that WE DON"T WANT WAR. If our neighbours had the openness of a free society, and if they asked the common man in Islamabad or Karachi, they would probably get the same answers. War does not solve problems, it adds more of them. 

Does that mean that we accept all that the perpetrators of terrorism heap upon us? 
Should we take this lying down
Hark friends, do these words not seem instigating to you? Am I not suggesting that we SHOULD not take it lying down?  That we SHOULD DO something about it? We are also aware that there are devious ways in which remote control operators get their things done 'through popular demands'. Again the winner will be  the politician. So there is really no sense in following such adrenalin -pumping speakers. 

Is there no solution to this problem of terrorism then? Born out of frustration, bred in poverty and led by fundamentalism, this modern day social evil is as complicated as a hopelessly tangled ball of wool.
Lets try to figure out some things.
  1. Who becomes a terrorist? a normal human being is a rather peace- loving, getting-along-with-each-others type. To commit actions as base as taking hostages at gunpoint, raping brutally, disfiguring  and killing, needs training in  a special kind of desensitized zone. It is said that youth from poorer sections of the society are picked up for indoctrination. This seems like the masculine answer to poverty. The women are trafficked into the brothels!
  2. Who creates terrorists? The society has to take the blame squarely. All of us have a role to play. The powerful for neglecting the less fortunate, the caretakers for being careless, the parents for failing in parenting well, the teachers for allowing the youth to take a wrong turn..... We are all responsible. When a child is going astray, he shows it in so many ways. His attitude changes, his role models get replaced, he speaks a different tongue. How is it that in a sub-continent as densely populated as ours, all these signs are missed? How come no one notices these changes, but jerks into shocked attention when an AK-47 jumps into his hands?
  3. What breeds Terrorism? One can understand the rise of the militia in the strict regimes of communist countries or under unfair dictatorships. But why does a group of people take to these desperate means when they are in a democracy? If a democracy is indeed a government of the people, by the people and for the people, why do some people feel left out? Is it not a failure of the democratic principles if people loose faith in dialogue as a means of communication and resort to the violence of grenades and guns to express themselves?
  4. Is our system of Law and Justice not efficient enough to weed out the problem elements of our society? We speak of giving even Kasab a fair hearing. What had he thought was fair in gunning down people by the dozens? Are such 'pathogens' of society the cause of terrorist strikes? But then Kasab too must have had a mother, a father, some friends, a special girl friend.... yet how did he become so anti-social? What went wrong? What created this monster? Religion? Politics? Indoctrination? Scorn and hatred....
If the destroyer is full of hatred, perhaps we could destroy his mission by spreading words and deeds of love. But if the destroyer is simply indifferent, how can we combat his indifference?

 Actually, are we not propagating the same kind of indifference ourselves when we see a wayfarer in trouble but refuse to stop to help? If a child is seen being rude to his elders, we used to have people around admonishing him not to do so. Today we choose not to interact. If a student misbehaves at school, the teacher is more worried about the time that the issue will eat out of her own personal time, and chooses to turn a Nelson's eye. 
In doing this we are giving out messages. Its we who teach them that its okay to be rude, that its not wrong to be domineering, being destructive attracts attention. By not showing them good manners, courtesy and not taking time to show how satisfying  constructive things can be, are we not failing in our own duties towards our society?

Why is it that GOODNESS is always silent and so goes unnoticed whereas BADNESS/EVIL shrieks out loud and is highlighted everywhere? I wonder what effect would the terrorists have if there were no TV / Newspaper reporters to lavish such undivided attention on their activities? So does this mean that the devil of terrorism is created by the media? Worth investigating.


Monday, December 8, 2008



A Letter

                                                                            by Amrita Pritam


Dipping my pen

in the ink-pots of Sun and Moon

I am writing to you all.

My ruler friends!

Before you start firing-

bullets, guns and atoms

read this letter.

My Scientist friends!

before making bullets guns and atoms

read this letter!


Words of stars and language of rays

if you cannot read…

ask some lover to read it for you

ask some writer to read it for you.

It is every mother’s mother tongue,

get this letter read from a mother-

Moon and Sun are two ink-pots

lift your pen, reply to this letter,

and write a word or two

about the well being of this earth


My ruler friends! My Scientist friends!!


One is touched by the sensitive wisdom in the poetess’s words which are very apt in today’s context of India. Science tells us that matter can neither be created nor destroyed. But a poetess’ heart tells us that life can both be created and get destroyed.

 The other day, I read about two warring tribes in Papua, New Guinea whose battles have caused constant strife, bloodshed and terrible anguish to both the communities for twenty long years. The women of the two tribes, fed up of the constant wars, decided on a novel way to rid their society of them- a desperate means to bring peace in their communities. They began smothering all the male children of the tribe! Neither would the boy live, nor would he grow into a hostile soldier, killing others and himself- dying much before his appointed hour.

 It takes a mother’s womb to know the importance of a child just as it takes a creator’s wisdom to count this terrible cost to stop destruction!

 Destruction has never been difficult. Any mad man can destroy. But nurturing a whole generation of responsible and talented youth, building up a nation, developing its economy and progressing in all fields …. that takes efforts and it takes time. The destroyed statues of the Bamiyaan Buddhas are mute witnesses to this. Useless bloodshed, mindless mayhem, carpet bombing of spreading cities…. how long does this all take? An hour, sixty hours, a month? But creating a single life takes nine slow months of nurturing, caring, protecting and constant loving.

 I beseech the government and my ruler friends to please remember all this before taking a decision that may alter all our lives forever. Someone out there sure wants India to declare war on ‘Terrorist’ Pakistan. But let us not fall victims to the media blitz and never forget the cost of a war that will take the lives of hundreds of uninvolved soldiers and civilians, without gaining anything of much worth.

 Gandhiji had once said, ‘An eye for an eye will make for a nation of blind men.’ Let us heed the advice in his wise words.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008



All of us are witnesses to Vilasrao Deshmukh’s ‘Taj-gate’ controversy over his son Ritiesh and his friend Ram Gopal Verma’s presence as ‘terror tourists’ in his entourage to the battle scarred Taj. Ritiesh’s fault doesn’t lie in the fact that he went there to see the after effects. But he erred in that he is an actor and the CM’s son. Even then, if he had lost a friend or a sister in the calamity, we would have been tchtching all over him. But in the absence of that condition, we point fingers and accuse him of gaining cheap entertainment out of it all. Does a person, an actor at that, need to be related to a victim of the terrible tragedy in order to feel the anguish and the pain?

A person needs to feel all kinds of human emotions to be able to portray them effectively at a later date. A story writer needs to get the feel of the ‘environment’ so that he could create a work of art out of his experiences later on. Art and literature have always shaped people’s attitudes and cinema is a no mean mode of social change! Have we already forgotten the effects of ‘Bombay’ and ‘Mission Kashmir’? A film maker had just as much right to be there to imbibe the ‘atmosphere’ of pathos as did the TV crews and the news channels that are busy even now milching the tragedy to its last drops in order to raise their TRPs!!!

But the Media is on a spree of ‘witch-hunting’ and Ritiesh’s and RGV’s were the shoulders on which they laid the ‘arthi’ of Vilasrao’s Chief Ministership.

There is no doubt that trivialities are being blown out of all proportions. The TV channels, stuck with 24 hours to fill up with ‘NEWS’, repeatedly play the same videos with the accusatory red rings of halo around Ritiesh’s and Ram Gopal Verma’s heads- making them out to be criminals of sorts.

 And yet, a mere decade ago, these two main actors would not even have earned a mention in the news broadcasts. Summarization was the norm then for news readers. They had to report the maximum of news in the minimum of time. Today however, repeated telecast of video footage, use of constant commentary-style of reporting has zoomed in and focused on an otherwise innocuous happening into a career breaking event and caused the CM to step down from his chair.

Don’t get me wrong. I am no ardent fan of the chief minister and am not in favour of his continuing in the seat at all!

But I would have appreciated it more if the cameras had tried to search for him on the days of the holocaust. They would then maybe have discovered him abandoning the comforts of his plush residence which happens to be located in South Mumbai, and taking refuge along with his deputy, Mr. R.R.Patil, in the Raj Bhavan which is at a considerably ‘safer’ spot in Dadar. This would indeed have exposed the truths and would have really been a good bit of journalism.

As it is, we are only in search of excuses to find scapegoats at the altar of the mythical ‘public opinion’ and Truth and Reasoning be dammed!!!!!



At the grave risk of being branded ‘insensitive’ like Mr. R.R. Patil, I want to go on record declaring that I for one, am happy that the terrorists chose the Taj this time to spread their mayhem!

Otherwise would we have had a Simi Greval, a Shobhaa De, an Anil Dharker, a Nandan Nilekeni or a Condoleeza Rice taking so much interest in the deaths of fellow citizens?

Mumbai has been rocked by much larger reverberations of explosives than those of hand grenades before this. In the train blasts of 2006, terror played a veritable Tandav nrittya. But the apple cart was not even shaken! Never mind if the common Mumbai office-goer in the 6.18 local from Churchgate had always been paying 100% of his taxes (with the pay cheques deducting taxes at source, he had no say in the matter). But the amount used to be so meager you see….

Today, it was the people who grow rich by evading taxes, who spend their company’s money on lavish dinners and weddings that were at the wrong end of the AK47s. The outrage is spilling out of their plush Skodas and Mercedeses on to the kerbs of South Mumbai. There is a lot of attention and talks of police reforms, overhauling of the electoral processes, supplying of better tracking devices at Airports, baggage checks,…. Note that the common man in the crowd is not included in this circle of ‘security’.

Where were all these ‘concerned citizens’ when a traumatized teenager had to will himself to enter into his regular local train to go home from college? Why were the electoral reforms not envisaged when a group of localites could not stop their tears as they recalled an empty seat, a shared breakfast, a lost chum….? Is the amount of the tax paid into the government coffers so much more cognizable than what % of your income got taxed? Then, nobody had demanded the resignations of the home minister, the defense minister or the chief minister! No heads rolled for the common man’s breach of security!

Let us stop paying false condolences to a dying Democracy. Equality, its benchmark, is non existent in our society. It isn’t there in our lifetimes nor is it seen after our deaths!



Mumbai’s encounter with the terror strikes this time were of a very different. Whereas throughout all these years we thought of terrorists as people who slinked in, planted their bombs and RDXes, and then vanishing without a trace into the multitudes. Whether it was at Mumbai or Delhi, or Hyderabad, or Jaipur or Malegaon, the terrorist himself was a faceless fiend. Not so this time, . This time however, we had young men moving around openly with AK47s and other sophisticated weapons …

 No efforts were taken to hide their visages. No stocking masks, no headgears, not even simple beards. In fact, one could see clearly that the faces were of young North Indians… (or Pakistanis??..) The terrorists were intercepted speaking Punjabi (Pakistani Punjabi…) and a lone captured terrorist proves to be from Faridkot… There are speculations about a trawler coming to Porbander from Karachi, ending so dramatically at Colaba. Then the discovery of considerable amounts of RDX close to the Taj and the credit cards that all but screamed out so called ‘identities’!!! All incriminating evidences pointing towards our not- too-friendly neighbour PAKISTAN.

Lets ‘pan back’ into time as Barkha Dutt would have said.


  • In 1919 the world was reeling under an economic depression – the luxury liner ‘Louisitania” wanders into hostile waters and gets targeted by the German submarines. The USA joins in the fray and then within an year or so emerges out of it an economic winner.
  • In 1941, deployment of forces sent wrong signals to an already sensitive Japan resulting in the attack on Pearl Harbour, giving the USA the chance to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Again USA emerged a ‘Superpower’ after the IInd World War. However, it’s worthy to note that in the early 1940’s the same superpower was in the throes of yet another economic low.
  • The Vietnam war, the Kuwait war, the Iran-Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, the ongoing Iraq war, every time there is an economic crisis, there is a major war in the world and the USA somehow has always been the HCF (in mathematical parlance, Highest Common Factor) in them. And always it has done very well for itself in the process.


If we take all those pointers and begin to put two and two together, we would be tempted to charge towards Pakistan like mad bulls. But we need to wait and take stock, to get into focus. If we do declare war on Pak, who will be our main supplier of weapons? And who will Pakistan depend upon for their armaments? Who will once again definitely come out as the ONLY economic giant in the World?

We are world weary and ought to know very well that although one sees the Puppet move its hands and legs, it cannot be held responsible for all its actions.

A war on Indian land at this juncture of time when we are emerging as one of the stable economies in the world, will surely spell doom for our country.


I appeal to the govt and people of India to BEWARE OF THIS CAPITALISTIC TRAP!!!