Saturday, November 29, 2008

Need answers......

The anger grows. I have sat down to put into words what I feel several times,, but the band width of my mind, is totally insufficient to handle the myriad overflowing thoughts and feelings that want to rush out, and I have given up , again and again.

And now its all over. 52 hours of watching a minute to minute war. Anger gives way , first to a massive relief, and then questions clobber the mind...

There have been efforts to divide us. Right from the time, that the British in their opportunistic support ( of the creator of Pakistan), linked Indian Independence to it, to countries (read Bangladesh) that were liberated by India in 1971, turning around and giving in to the religion of hate. Efforts by selfish, shortsighted, corrupt and unscrupulous local politicians to divide a populace on religion,language, and even commerce.

We are a country , who can be held up to the world as the shining example of democracy. I am not mouthing a platitude. It is difficult to be democratic when you don't know where your next meal is coming from. Its difficult to be democratic , when you are in a quandary about whether to obey a national rule or a religious diktat. Its difficult to be democratic where, year after year, you see money power prevailing where good sense should suffice.

And you wonder about the exemplary dedication of the armed forces of such a country, where no one gets drafted into the force akin to what happened in the US during Vietnam. Its a totally voluntary army. Millions across India's villages, become army men because they want to, or because their father was one, and the tradition continues. Police , though growingly criticised, continue to work inhuman hours with totally inadequate protection.

And again and again, election after election , this country and its armed forces, have shown an immense awareness and respect for the will of the people, as opposed to grabbing of power by military force, which is the norm in our neighboring countries, that rule by the rifle butt.

For fifty two hours, we saw an outstanding fight put up by the various sections of the armed forces, as they went about tangling with an enemy, who was remorseless, loaded with resources, technologically super enabled, and totally disrespectful of anything that crossed their path. The Mumbai police, who were led from the front by their chief officers, ( so well attuned to the city population, the logistics, and movements), were hampered by their ineffective hardware, and destructive political interference, yet stood up to the challenge, eventually dying a martyrs death.

At the end of it all, some questions.

1. The Central government says it had passed on the intelligence warning about this to the State government , after the boat left Karachi with the terrorists. While they bicker over generalities and specifics, pray , tell me, if they knew that the enemy had left Karachi by boat, didn't we have a Navy to stop them and bomb them out of the ocean? Or do we just "do" pirated ships off the coast of Africa ? It is clear that every international action requires government sanction. So why was the navy not asked to intercept this boat ?

2. The State Government has its home minister explaining in a redundant press conference, saying "These things happen ". Do you say the same thing to the grieving families of those who slogged out for 60 hours in the smoke and flames and died,, with no personal gain in the whole thing, except a great amount of patriotism and pride in the country?

3. At the height of the whole thing, the central home minister announces a press conference, they cut across from the live coverage of the carnage to show the country's home minister going into a long winded eulogy over an old, ex-PM , with a chronic kidney condition and a bad prognosis passing away. That man was in his eighties. And while I respect the sentiments behind the eulogy, was the entire union cabinet bereft of other speakers? Was this of prime importance to the Home Minsiter ? Was the current PM not available ? And why couldn't this wait till Parliament went into session ?

4. Can we incorporate something in our Constitution (since everyone quotes from it in defence of whatever), that says, that is an event like this, appearances by politicians, or any members of any legislatures, barring only the PM, at the scenes of calamities , be punishable by law ? The Mumbai police are paid a pittance for what they do. They work amazing hours, in the most damaging conditions. Where was the need for politicians of all hues to come with sanctimonious faces ,and spout meaningless drivel, at the sites of the carnage, drawing the police away from where they should have continued to be?

5. Have we had enough of people at the highest level , constitutionally and otherwise, flying down from Delhi, wasting tons of aviation fuel , to visit the injured at the hospitals; all these dignitaries with their various classes of security which have drawn the commandos away from where they should have been deployed in the first place? The injured don't have a magical improvement, the already overworked staff tries its best to cope, and a lot of precious time is wasted. If I was sick and injured and lying in a hospital bed after a traumatic event, I would shut my eyes when these folks appeared and cry out for my mother. Honestly.

6. Our central government has a Pay Commission that meets and upgrades the Govt payscales every 6 years. While wonderful pay scales are announced for civilians, why does it reach a stage where the armed forces publicly protest over the difference in the pay facilities for them , to the extent that a special appeal goes to the PM ? Why must the armed forces have to ask ? Has it not proved itself time and again in man made, terrorist, and natural calamities, besides activities that it was meant for, such as fighting to keep our country free ? Will someone see the light of the day now ?

7. Whoever heard of anyone other than the PM and President having massive security ? If anyone other than these two, is in a position of power where there is a threat perception, he or she should leave/resign that position. You cannot go around making outrageous threatening statements, get threats from some one in return and then demand security. But 35 constables strutting around and several cars accompanying you when you go to have tea with your friends is a bit much. I didn't pay my taxes for this. its amazing to see how many of our esteemed ministers face threats, as perceived by the government. 61 years after independence, they are behaving like royalty , and the Raja culture is threatening to return again.....

There are many questions. And the problems reek of politicians excelling themselves in greed, hoarding of resources , corruption, and incompetency.

This entire calamity has served to unite the citizens of Mumbai in particular and the country in general, despite those who try to use religion,rhetoric, disturbance tactics, and geography to encourage division amongst us, and tainted votes for themselves.

We were divided earlier in 1947. Since then , we've clambered up and cobbled our combined energies together in matters of education, commerce agriculture, the sciences, arts, through years of 3-4 wars, natural calamities, and certain natural allies who were unnaturally blind at times, (misled by power,money,prestige, and plain and simple bad advice).

We wont be divided again. We are not fools.

Time has come to show them in the forthcoming elections, what a dedicated, united , citizenry can do


  1. I agree with your anger at the selfishness and the ineptitude and shortsightedness of our political class whole-heartedly. But if there is no-body worthwhile to vote for, then is not voting a democratic form of protest? Or will that be rigged anyway?

    I sometimes feel that a Presidential form of govt is a less confusing way of electing the head of state. At least we can have some hope of electing a dynamic leader, instead of people who will always be pulled back by their respective party-members.

  2. We have also followed this story in our country, watching what happens, hoping it will findally end, feeling bad for the victims.

    Your questions sound a lot like those we have asked in this country after various times when our government let us down, when too many politicians posture and pose rather than be concerned for what really would help. Countries like yours and ours, we have to see a united, unequivocal effort to make those who would use terrorism as a political tool or as a way to gain power, that it quits working, and they pay a terrible price for it. It has to go after the ones who support and train these murderers as often the ones doing it are already dead. They were just fodder to those who don't value life or the work of others. The developed world has to be united in not finding this acceptable. It's not okay and once is too many times.

    We in the United States have great sympathy for what you have gone through and will continue to go through because such attacks undermine confidence and it's what they intend. If we don't want them to win, we have to make it not work.

  3. BRAVO!! Love your blog!

    Till our educated urban middle class stand up and be counted nothing is going to change. Unfortunately they tend to step back on the day of elections, not vote, saying that there is nobody worth my vote. Okay, if there is nobody worth your valuable vote, go out there and get your vote canceled for which there is a provision, to ensure that your valuable vote is not used by somebody else. This could be but a small beginning. Is it too much to ask for?

  4. It does seems from this great distance that you have every right to be very very angry Suranga.
    Your nation has been through a lot in the past week.
    June in Oz

  5. Yes, Ugich, no doubt you're right. But a "dedicated, united citizenry" requires intelligence and access to truth, both of which cannot be claimed by the majority in any country. India is no different. The majority will rule, and they're uneducated, innocent villagers, mainly, who are preyed upon by those animals you mentioned: the opportunistic, uncaring, selfish, puffed up, self important nobodies who call themselves politicians. Useless.

  6. I shot of three posts in pain. A few more were still born.

    But for the idea that the time to change is now, and it begins with me and you and the next man standing..that idea has been given birth.

    These questions relevant and painful. I wouldnt want to wait for answers. A person with average intelligence will understand all of this...

    Its time. Its time...We've got to get them all.

  7. Sucharita You know, Ive often thought a presidential government would be an alternative for us.. but I have never been able to figure out why elected chaps need to be made minsiters. They can "serve" their constituents simply by being in Parliament. It manmohan Singh can be brought in as Finance Minsiter at one point, what stops them from hiring other professionally qualified folks ?

    Rain I understand what your saying. I just finished reading Remnicks book on the fall of Russia. One thing that is encouraging here, is that we still have the freedom to get up and say things , and disagree. Maybe our innate diversity in religion, language, etc makes it difficult for any politician to take things for granted. This has to be a wake up call .....

    Magic eye thank you. And yes, I think its time we took our votes seriously. Remember 1977, and how the same uneducated, rural India that is supposed to be easy to fool, voted out those who imposed emergency ?

    June Thank you. It feels like a gentle pat on the back, when folks write in to say, "we understand..." Something like that is needed too.

    Braja The same "united citizenry" has shown up and voted with their conscience and NOT with their wallets, when their freedom was threatened in 1977. I am positive that will happen again...we cannot and should not despair.

    Kavi I totally agree.

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  9. Dear Madam,

    Life has that strange propensity for failing you when you need answers from it urgently. This situation is one such.

    No doubt all of us are in pain, some in anger, some in confusion, some all of the above. I believe that the probably this is time when we will find an solution out of this apathy and unconcernedness which seems has bound us into inaction till now. I hope that the people of this great nation rise make better choices during the coming elections as to who we will be entrusting our lives to for the next five years.

    For long we have feigned indifference as to who governed us and in what manner and were used to just venting our anger periodically. I believe this is the time when we should voice our collective opinion and find a soultion for ourselves when such a situation strikes us next.

  10. Trying to be optimistic in the face of such trauma is hard. I am encouraged by your desire to think of this as the time to exercise the freedoms of democracy - speaking your feelings and looking at voting for change.
    This is a very mind expanding blog for me as a citizen of the United States of America.

  11. Surange, we watched glued to our t.v. as this terrible thing happened in India. When your people come together and vote as one, you will see change. Look at what just happened in our country with Obama. You should be angry. Many in this country have been angry about greedy politicians and dishonest people in government for years.

  12. “Time has come to show them in the forthcoming elections, what a dedicated, united, citizenry can do.”
    There, you just said it. Hopefully that was the one thing that brought the barrel to overflow. As Judy said: “Look what just happened in the USA.”
    Maybe there still wouldn’t be an Obama if there hadn’t been a Bush? I so wish I could give you a satisfying answer, but I can’t.

  13. We all feel the anger. We need to give it a right direction. As many have already said, we need a CHANGE.

  14. Ganesh Time for us to think, and act, in our own way. The governmental inertia needs to be perturbed.

    Parapluie Thank you for visiting my blog. Maybe we are heading for an age, when the populace, after having seen the inept, insensitive and unsuccessful policies of those that rule, will naturally unite , keeping aside things that divide them. (Like it happened in the US)...

    Judy You know, the so called ignorant, poor populace of India has earlier voted out , in a united fashion , in 1977, those that imposed an "emergency" in our country in 1975. So I think there is a quiet mental mobilization happening. And you can rest assured that when the time comes, it will be the non-Taj, non-Trident, non-candlelight-vigil types, who will quietly take an hour off from their tough daily wage jobs, and come vote. they did it before and will do it again.

    Fida Someone used to say that you need to hit rock bottom to be able to rise again. You guys did it on Nov 5. I am sure we will too.

  15. Again as Sucharita pointed out, I don't see anyone in the current politics who can bring in change. We need fresh blood.

  16. Joy In the history of our country, people have risen from the masses at various times, to invigorate and enthuse a pained and depressed electorate. I am sure this will happen again. And I am you say, we need fresh blood.

  17. The army flushed out the terrorists, The police squardoned off the area, the fire brigade doused the fire ....But will the politicians please do what they should be doing... go after the planners of the executors sent to mumbai??? No matter what price we have to pay for it??? This is the general sentiment of the people or will they just sit back...?? Already BJP showed yesterday when their party leader left the all party meeting to campaign in Rajasthan that it doesnt matter how India should now react... They have discovered something new for their campaign... Mumbai terror blasts... Those who came by boats are killed... but what bout the ones that come by votes????

  18. "Those who came by boats are killed... but what bout the ones that come by votes????...."

    Can you see them smiling and counting the notes ?

  19. Really disgusting... It will be apalling if the politicians will act as i fear they will... I will be ashamed if my country again lets this pass by...

  20. Hello Madam,
    Your post has been quite informative and well written! The terrorists attacks in Mumbai is a real eye-opener for everyone! Lots could be done for a 'safer India'.
    Also the world should get together to pull-out the 'real culprits' who give training to such terrorists! It is hard to know where will be the next target by them and it could be anywhere in this world!

  21. Yes, you have listed them all - the questions for which we need answers. and NOW. I truly hope there is something we can do to show them that we won't let it happen ever again.

  22. Hi, Ugich.
    You have been in my thoughts for many days now. My heart aches for India.

  23. I understand your anger. The points you've made are excellent. I pray for all of you through this difficult time.

  24. I also understand your anger.
    My heart goes out to you and I am so sorry that this is happening.
    You are in my prayers.

  25. i echo each and every statement...its up to us to show them now...

    its the right time to direct that angst in a new direction, one that will take us forward...

    the clock ticking on your blog has a whole new meaning now

  26. I have been thinking of you a lot given you live right where these apalling crimes were committed. It was the only thing on the TV while I was in Thailand. I kept thinking while away with the trouble in Thailand how easy it would be and how unsuspecting you are of anything such as that being possible. We just trust others I guess. So many lives lost and such a shocking impact on your city and country and of those in the west too with the loss of lives. I hope what you say is correct and citizens unite together in the forthcoming elections. Take Care please and I can understand to a point what you must feel but when its in your own city it makes life somewhat more unstable I guess. You have every right to be upset and angry and to be asking many questions. I hope this post gets wider publication too - your writing is always so good.

  27. Hi,

    I was reading ur blog posts and found some of them to be very good.. u write well.. Why don't you popularize it more.. ur posts on ur blog ‘gappa’ took my particular attention as some of them are interesting topics of mine too;

    BTW I help out some ex-IIMA guys who with another batch mate run where you can post links to your most loved blog-posts. Rambhai was the chaiwala at IIMA and it is a site where users can themselves share links to blog posts etc and other can find and vote on them. The best make it to the homepage!

    This way you can reach out to rambhai readers some of whom could become your ardent fans.. who knows.. :)