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2009 January 26 [Monday]

republic@60

As the Indian republic turns 60, it also ironically marks the second month-versary of the Mumbai attacks on 26 Nov last year. There was the initial outrage, brouhaha, etc.. for about a month ; then the dust began settling on the terrorism issue. Not surprising at all since the Indian media had jucier bytes to beam like the Satyam financial fraud issue, the Obama's oath ceremony and who can forget the desi stylists falling over themselves to comment on Ms.Obama's fashion sense.

When the attack occured 2 months ago, our politicians went into a tizzy in the ensuing media frenzy and gleefully gave media sound bytes bordering on hyperbole. The ex-CM of the Mahanarashtra state and his actor son took a film producer/director to the Taj hotel so he could get a first hand look at the terrorist's killing and carnage and faithfully reproduce an exaggerated over-hyped masala film with some sexy dance/item numbers thrown in for the masses.

Even the Dalai Lama called a spade a spade instead of pussy-footing like most others or hiding behind diplomasque. With politicians like the minister Antulay, who in Paliament indirectly suggested that the terrorists may not be from Pakistan but may be Hindus, India does'nt need enemies.  Despite Ajmal Amir (he also has a wikipedia page *eye-roll*) revealing that they attacked Mumbai to avenge the Mid-East/Israel gridlock, David Milliband manages to put his foot in his mouth with some faulty logic.  Since access to the USA is harder for Al-quaida, the ocean not withstanding, it makes strategic sense for Islamic jihadists to kill/strike at US citizens outside the USA in other countries like Mumbai and other parts of India, the probability of which is scarily plausible in the face of the ISI training women in terrorism tactics and not just poor Ajmal Amir's who want to become famous for all the wrong reason. Besides the geographical advantage, India is has amazingly high levels of corruption and scores of idiots who are inefficient and inept when it comes to delivering justice and clamping down on criminal activities. No really, you can get away with murder in India, literally !

Is Pakistan a terrorist state?? Not according to ex-Gen.Mussharraf who has a good sense of humor when he berates the USA (Obama government ?) thus :

"If you compare what you spent in Afghanistan, I believe I read an article where roughly 143 billion dollars have been spent in Afghanistan. What have you spent in Iraq? Maybe over a trillion dollars?"

Now that sounds like a subtle blackmail toned as whining for economic aid. Hmpf, so Pakistan is essentially telling the US and the world to "pony up the $$$ and then FO". Indirectly he just showed USA the middle finger as the $$$ will be used to create Al-queda sancturies.

Obama did not take kindly to being shown the middle finger but its too early in the game as Pakistan has always been good with international diplomacy while the Indian governtment fails abjectly on that front. They even managed to get China, (a communist country with abject human rights situation...Tibet anyone?) on their side by giving them carte blanche power to “sort out” this diplomatic tangle. Duh, now how did that happen ??

Pakistan managed to steal the limelight thanks to the jingoism our politicians indulged in, the sound bytes about how India reserves all right to wage war. A heir-in-waiting, Rahul Gandhi, is busy scoring brownie points with a morality spiel on how Indians only respect people who have money, authority and positions...err, how about giving up that Z+ security and Lyuten's bungalow for starters, Mr.Gandhi !?

Other ministers, including the Prime minister, did nothing beyond condemning the act vehemently as "outrageous" and engaged in empty rhetoric's. Although India had all the evidence in the form of : records of telephone conversation that took place between terrorist at Mumbai and coordinators in Pakistan ; written statements from the arrested terrorist ; his parents admission and identification that he is their son ; confirmation by international intelligence agencies (including US, UK, etc) ; captured weapons used by the terrorists with markings of ordinance factories located in Pakistan ; etc..... it appears that our external affairs ministry as usual failed to present the available evidence effectively ; to Pakistan Government as well as to international community. It is indeed pathetic to note that we are still sloppy in preparing our case sheet and are struggling to ensure 'to fix the offence committed on the offender without leaving any loophole'.

Amidst all this media drama, Pakistan was smart enough to deflect attention and play the victim while our government babus patted themselves on the back for the perfect media pitch, empty threats and sabre rattling, which only annoyed a lot of countries (including China the epitome of democracy). Red-herring's like "joint probes" and tangential unrelated issues like the Malegaon blasts and other diversionary tactics helped them subvert and play the innocent victim to good effect, leaving India foaming at the mouth. By the time the police and other criminal investigation agencies compile evidence to prepare the FIR, years would pass affecting the resolve and anger of the International community to punish Pakistan for promoting terrorism on its soil.

That is the crossroads India stands at on this 60th Republic day and its ironic that Netaji was choosen the youth icon on the occassion of his birthday last week. with politicians gleefully going the whole media hog over his janmashtami BUT yet every successive Indian government has always maintained a mysterious and deafening silence on Bose's death. Even his daughter thought we didnt do enough to remember her father. Hmm... maybe Dhar's book reveal the unknown mystery behind the PMO office destroying documents.  India may be a democratic state turning 60 which is a second coming of sorts, but frankly unless we pull up our socks and develop zero-tolerance to *corruption* we will not reach our full potential.

2008 December 7 [Sunday]

Does religion ask you to be violent?

The one thing that refuses to go away from my mind .... reading reports of the Jewish hostages being tied up and tortured before being killed. That they were killed painfully is extremely disturbing and for personal reasons. Around 195 died and included Hindus, Christians, Muslims, who who were killed in the attack but the terrorists didnt ask any of them the religion before they killed them except the Jews, who they decided to torture and then slaughter. That sounds so much like Aurangazeb torturing the last Maratha Peshwa alive, slowly skinning him whilst hanging him by his legs, for refusing to convert. That the last Peshwa chose to die a slow painful death on the 21'st day of torture, instead of converting to Islam, was something never taught in our history textbooks.

That lack of tolerance for another is similar in this singling out of the Jews. It irks me because I've lived for years in close proximity, shared innumerable laughs, tears, jokes, Sabbath's and Puja's with one such family who treated me as they would their own child. They were more Indian than most Indians - think long hair, sari, bindi .... and you know what I mean. I still remember the disapproving look I got for cutting my waist-length hair.

And that is why, it is disturbing and scary to even imagine that people you have known as a child and have grown-up with could be tortured and cruelly killed because they follow a different religion than you do.I am yet to overcome the fact that for some people religion is all about intolerance and fanaticism. Its a harsh truth, but it is.

Julio Riberio says his ancestors were Hindus from India and they never had an issue with getting along with other religions. I cant argue with that fact but its scary to think what India is degenerating into. We Indians are selfish, as after walking at a protest rally or blogging (like this), we will return to our excitingly mundane daily life until the next incident occurs and its time to repeat the circus all over again. Not to forget all the publicity-hungry stars who will hog the media bytes with inane comments about the spirit and tolerance of the the great Indian (re)public !! Talk of collective amnesia !! Easier to hold hands, have a candlelight vigil, and just impossible to control who gets voted from our constituency. THAT and Corruption would be two root causes of our misery. Our apathy is just icing on the cake for a public servant.

For a change the US got tough talking with Pakistan who acknowledge the terrorists were its nationals trained by the army and LeT. This has significance for both USA and other countries. Now that the LeT has tasted success it can strike at will anywhere in India, target all foreigners who come to India whether for business or pleasure. Since the LeT wants to take Jihad all over India and Jammu&Kashmir is their entry point in India they can almost succeed because there is not a single state in India without a sizable Muslim population which Indian politicians love to play around with. Its their vote-bank politics of divide and rule. If nothing else we have something to learn from the Americans who after 9/11 changed the way the world looks at terrorism. Yeah individual freedom and liberty was curbed but who wants a democracy where one can get away with murder, just like that!! Almost impossible in India due to vote-bank politics and public servants (read politicians) who will equate slain martyrs with dogs, whilst claiming the tag of 'world's largest democracy' ... but that exists only for them with the Z+ security, government bungalows and other perks that they enjoy at the expense of the tax-payers money. They need to learn a thing or two from TATA's generosity.

This slaughter would not have been possible without local traitors to help them in planning and logistics. Do we have the courage to kill the enemy within our midst? Isnt the quintessential chalta hai (take it easy!!) attitude responsible for the current mess? We talk of corruption, corrupt politicians, but are unable to do anything because it needs collective action. One individual cannot do it. It has to be a mass movement and should start with the public servant's accountability to the Indian tax-payer and voter(s). Each voter has a right to petition for a "Reject Candidate Vote" which was lost when the electronic voting was bought in. Earlier one could stamp on two candidate and nullify one's vote as a form of rejection. With electronic votes that is impossible. So I am forced to vote for a candidate I dont like (or choose the lesser evil) or Not vote at all (which is not even an option imho). So do we really have it in us to stop corruption once and for all or are we going to turn the other way because it didnt happen to us. Why are we waiting instead of being proactive? It should be mandatory for every 18 year old person (including women) to serve in the military for a period of 10 years. That would give people a real life perspective and force them to be more patriotic and live *equally* as common citizens which is not the case now.

In all this I feel sad for Moshe, the 2-year old orphan ...i wonder if he will ever overcome the trauma of his parents brutal murder just two days before his birthday. That will be a horrific fact he will have to relive all his life just days before his birthday each year. How cruel - What kind of religion asks you to be cruel, terrorize and indulge in mindless violence?

2008 November 29 [Saturday]

the taj of terror

Now that the 60-hour Taj seige by terrorists in downtown Mumbai is finally over its time to take stock of the past present and future events.

PAST

Terrorism has never been new to India and although lakhs of Indians have been killed in terrorist attacks in India ever since the Kashmir problem escalated in the 1980's, India has never got the world's attention or sympathy when it came to acknowledging across the border state-sponsored-terrorism. Besides the fact that our governments dont give a damn about Indian citizens, the US, UK and every other developed nation always ignored us screaming that Pakistan was a petri-dish for mushrooming terrorism. The US always had a soft (blind) spot for Pakistan because of the latter's support during the Cold War and showed their gratitude with billions of dollars in Financial aid and the decades old green-card lottery system, whereby 50,000 visas each year would be doled out to Pakistani men who could later bring their spouses and family members on a dependent visa whilst educated Indians had to make do with a cap on the H1 visas annually. I came across a former Intelligence chief Vikram Sood's blog entry on Terrorism which makes an interesting read.

PRESENT

The Pakistani terrorists were able to strike at will as they had complete terrain knowledge especially the Taj Hotel and it was only when the terrorists singled out Americans and Britishers and Jews that the world smelt the coffee. 'Kashmir is just an excuse to kill at will in the name of religion'.

The Jews came to India more than 2000 years ago and one of my neighbour(s) in Mumbai was a Jewish family, which was my second home and I can never forget that they would never eat non-veg in my presence out of respect for my beliefs. Even my non-veg eating Hindu friends have never respected my beliefs as much as they did !!

One captured terrorist admits that they thought they would return to Pakistan alive and didnt know it was a suicidal mission. Duh.... anyone with half a brain would know that the moment you pick up a gun you become a terrorist, and for someone who has no qualms about killing other human beings, he wants the mercy of life for himself. The suicidal mission was well-planned some months ago when they had visited Mumbai pretending to be Malaysian students. By breaking it up into small modules with each unit having 'need to know basis' information, the Pakistani bosses had ensured that brainwashed souls would be remote-controlled at every stage and re-create an Indian 9/11.

FUTURE

Terrorists do not believe in the philosophy of any religion ...they are just selfish in action and motives, either professional or political. India has never been good at politics and has always been bad at selling itself, the lack of spy intelligence notwithstanding. Our political parties will never take a stand and reach a consensus on tackling terrorism firmly. Rather they will indulge in debates about terrorism which will turn into a debate about Muslims being a minority in India, which directly benefits the terrorists. When will our so called secular politicians come out of this false cocoon and face terrorism with conviction without worrying about vote-bank politics ?!

While the politicians will have to bury their hatchets and work for a national agenda, we also need a neutral media which has the guts to focus on the truth and not just sensationalism and regional appeasement tactics to get maximum viewer ratings. The likes of Shabana Azmi, Arundhati Roy, Teesta Setelvad  and Barkha Dutt could do well and stop insulting our intelligence with their biased babble. Do they have the courage to live the life of a military commando or that of good officer(s) who get killed due to poor quality bullet-proof jackets in the line of duty ? Ofcourse not... instead we are bombarded with  their brainless chatter from those cosy news-rooms 24/7. For a change the media could focus on facts instead of sensationalism and minute-by-minute analysis. Why do we forget history in the form of the unforgettable hijack of Indian Airlines IC184 where we were unfortunately negotiating with terrorists and who can forget the time V.P.Singh released a dreaded terrorist Masood Azhar for securing the release of Rubbaiya Sayyed in Kashmir who went on to setup the LeT.

Today we are glued to the moving images on TV but tomorrow as a nation we just move on, certainly not any wiser or more unified on the issue of weeding out terrorism. We conveniently forget about it till the next episode. That is our history and unfortunately this horrific incident is no less tragic than the gazillion terrorist attacks all over India but our esteemed politicians will grab media bytes to lob accusations and counter-accusations on who is more serious about fighting terrorism than actually doing something about it. Will we ever learn from history ?!

Atleast let's not forget to pay our tributes to the military martyrs and their counterparts - the civilian heroes.

UPDATE : Wanted by Interpol, sheltered by Pakistan and Dubai, Dawood Ibrahim, provided logistics to the terrorists. From the ET : "Instructions were passed on to the jihadis outside using satellite phones. Also, some terrorists were tracking the movements of ATS officers on TV and accordingly instructed the jihadis located closeby to attack them. Even after the agencies realised this and switched off the cable/satellite TV feed to the hotels, the terrorists continued to get updates from their local handlers having access to TV channels". Besides, they were also instructed to kill till death and used Google Earth Maps for geo locations of their targets. Apparently  four terrorists are still believed to be at large and a hunt is on for them..... Scary and depressing !!