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