Don’t Go Overboard …Posted: December 11, 2008
I havent written my opinion about the terror attack on Mumbai. I dont think i could have written anything even remotely erudite compared to what folks far more intelligent and well-informed than me have written. Yes, i have shared the agony of the attacks … yes, i have shared the general mood of anger, yes i have been upset with the media coverage … yes i have blamed the media for going overboard because of its elitist leanings … yes i have blamed the media for giving far more importance to this than to the local train blasts, or the blasts at Sarojini Nagar, because of the profile of the people killed … and a number of other things.
And yet, i would like to say this … dont go overboard. Dont go overboard projecting the romance of The Taj Mahal Hotel, or Cafe Leopold … Dont go overboard, claiming Mumbai is the only international city we have. Dont go overboard trying to brand the recent legislature elections as the semi-finals … after all, state and national elections are contested on different issues, and even if that sounds utopian, nothing can be the semi-final without huge states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu (see here) having had their say. Dont go overboard …
Of course, the Jamat-ud-Dawa should be banned … we have been able to get the UN to ban it. But please let this lead to something. We all remember the time when the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba was banned. Has that helped? Not really. This actually reminds me of a Tom and Jerry episode … the balloon coming out of one cavity … you try to push it back in, it comes out of another cavity. Also, i believe, lets not blame Pakistan. Lets face it … if someone is coming to hit you, it is your foolishness if you let him, and then blame him. It is up to us to protect ourselves. But, the question is, are we serious?
A lot of us have blamed politicans. A lot of us have said enough is enough. Maybe we should stand in front of the mirror and say that? Let me explain what i mean … how many of us actually think about what the other person may go through when we do something? Lets take an example … you will see on the roads in any city, people who will cut you off, who will drive rash, on the wrong side of the road, etc. etc. … for their own convenience (driving on the wrong side of the road is an awesome way to beat having to drive a longer distance and take a u-turn). By doing this, are we ever thinking of what other drivers on the road may go through?
Now, one could argue that theres no relation between driving and national security. But i am not even talking about that. I am talking about the attitude of people. As individuals, how many of us actually care about others? How many of us actually are concerned whether the other person lives or dies? Yes, there are folks who are, but then … Lets ask a hypothetical question … would we have reacted the same way if, for instance, these attacks were the work of, say, the Irish, or Spanish terrorists? If yes, then we would have evolved as a society, and as a nation. If no, then this outcry is not arising from serious concern.
Coming to the point of Pakistan … lets understand one thing … Pakistan was formed on an anti-India platform. Now, if a nation is formed on such a premise, then wouldnt it be folly to actually expect anything drastically different? Pakistan is in a state of denial, they say … maybe they are a state of denial … starting 1948?
Coming to the whole idea of Muslim bashing … Yasin Merchant wrote a wonderful piece in the TOI yesterday … but i am looking at something more basic … When Pakistan was created, the idea was that of “Islam in danger”. On this platform was mooted the idea of creation of Pakistan, comprising the Muslim-majority areas of the sub-continent. However, there is a fallacy here. In these areas, like in Punjab, or Bengal, the platform of “Islam in danger” didnt cut much ice, because the Muslim population wielded enormous political power within the existing system, while in the areas where the Muslims were in a minority, and the platform could actually have cut some ice, those areas were excluded from Pakistan. So let us understand one thing … this is a political, and only a political issue … this cannot be a religious issue. As Shah Rukh Khan said in an interview … there is the Islam of Allah, and there is the Islam of the Mullahs.
Staying on the topic of Pakistan … while this might sound like toeing the Pakistan line, the fact is, and analysts have been saying this, a weak Pakistan is not in our best interests, whether we like it or not. Pushing the government too far will only give more power to the “fundos” as they are called, and probably bring the Taliban closer to our borders, and i dont think any of us would believe that that would be a nice thing. The idea needs to be to eliminate them, and we must think surgically in that direction.