Saturday, December 06, 2008

India Under Attack - Our sensibilities under a bigger one

A week into the attack and we are blabbering like terrorism touched our lives on 26-11 the first time.
Actually, it did. This is the first time that the rich and the powerful are in the cross-wire. And in this might still lie our redemption. That the rich have been inconvenienced. Shobha De, the renowned socially conscious intellectual, who regularly expresses her empathy to the cause of the Mumbaikar with scathing articles on which starlet is getting buggered by which producer and thought-provoking books like Sisters, is now suddenly the voice of the angry Mumbai. So far, the odd blasts on locals hardly touched her; this time she might have to watch behind her back at the Sheraton while she trades gossips with other equally socially-conscious corporate wives and socialites.
You probably have heard about the brave lady whose outlasting contribution to Indian journalism is the creation of the brain-bending Page 3 and whose funeral was attended by many teary-eyed strangers, but did you know that an entire Muslim family of five got shot at CST and who might not have registered an equally generous attendance on their funerals -- despite the fact that they had not even created the cult of Page 3?
Or do you know the name of anyone shot at CST?
Instead, we know that Suhel Seth escaped by the thinnest of whiskers – but whether that is good or bad news is anybody’s guess.

If I am seen to deride the dead here, that is the intention. A dead citizen, for a nation, is as good as any other. But the media’s biased coverage makes me wish that for this kind of coverage I should have seen a lot more of those “celebrities” dead.

Can we cut the crap about martyrs and heroism and enough is enough?

Of martyrs
Sandeep died while flushing out terrorists – but that was his job, right? The idea of martyrs reeks of causes bigger than everything else and that leaves no room for any doubts and questions. Even the terrorists who died are being hailed as martyrs elsewhere. Given a choice between martyrdom (shahaadat) and being alive on virtue of better intelligence and equipment, I think I know what Sandeep might have chosen first.
Nobody wants to be a martyr (except for suicide bombers perhaps but that is also only a means to a bigger end) unless one has to. A man doing his duty and dying because of faulty management practices is not a martyr – he is a victim.

Of enough is enough
Mumbai has had enough – what the fuck is that supposed to mean, anyway? If the next incident happens at Chowpatty, would the people tell the terrorists that we told you that we had had enough the last time, phir kyun aayaa baba?
Well I have had enough of my corporate life, but so what? The choice is mine what I mean to do about it.
A day before the attack, the biggest issue in the city was the Manoos content of the vada pav. A month before, in response to attack on desperat students appearing for a national exam, some of the city's gliteratti, hands on gloves with the thugs running the son-of-the-soil show in the city, went on record tacitly supporting the cause.

If we can't have the same candlelight vigil when a city remains silent when students are beaten to death, I say, you can shove the burning candles up your Manoos-asses for all I care.

Attacking our national heritage
I don’t care if Taj is listed as No. 1 in world heritage or No. 8298.

Two reasons:

Just like any dead citizen is as good as any other, the contrast between the Armani and the langot notwithstanding, any bombed place in India is as good as any other.

Second, if a place requires shoes on your feet and a wallet full of grands, it’s not a national heritage site for me, it’s a strictly commercial venture.

I don’t care if Tata made the hotel as a grievance to an insult of national or strictly personal nature, but the fact is that before 26th I would have to be stacked with cash to sit in that whtevertisnamewas bar and my driver in the slippers and dirty pants would have been denied entry by the guard.
Just because a lot of rich people, who write all the fancy columns in the world and claim to speak for a nation of billion, have fond memories of a place, a place does not become more esteemed than any other.

Worse has happened, India, and we have found ways out of it.
At one time, Manipur and Punjab produced a steady stream of bodies in the national dailies. The lessons learnt at both places was that victimizing a community can never assure a long-term peaceful solution.

Just forget this talk of wars, compulsory military service, POTAs.

Going to war with even a non-nuclear nation leaves scars for decades to come.
Giving laws like POTA to even an efficient police force is fraught with danger; and we're talking about the Indian police here.

This is from people who have no problem seeing future statesmen in people who have led genocides against unarmed civilians.

This is from people who have arrogantly assumed that the country’s best interests are aligned with the interests that serve them the best.

This is from people who’ve no moral qualms over the fact that their rich lifestyle is largely an effect of the incredible poverty of the country (the ridiculously cheap labour); and no thoughts for the facts that the resilience of cities is mainly a question of daily survival of the majority living in its shanties and that the enemy was at least willing to die for what he believed in.

The point is that I don't think that most of us who claim to be the elite and the peaceful liberals care much about justice, liberalism and "national character" as long as it doesn't inconvenience us.

These are macro forces that take years of history to shape, and just because your fancy dinner got interrupted by the forces of politics you don't care about, history won't take an accelerated pace.


Nothing Spectacular said...

Good article.
The question is - can we use this brouhaha as an excuse and REALLY get some improvements in our security apparatus and more importantly, in political accountability? If yes, then we can say we have bounced back. If no, then all is lost anyway.

ramya sriram said...

i'm reading.