Mumbai Attacks - A slap in the face

Published on Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mumbai Attacks: A slap in the face

Rajesh Kandadai

The memories of mayhem are indelible and the wounds of carnage are still fresh. The Mumbai attacks have re-ignited the nationalism that has been dormant since our independence and justifiably, the failure to prevent this massacre was swiftly shouldered on to our cosy politicians and never in the Indian political history are the politicians so vehemently vilified. This attack has slapped every thinking Indian on their faces, a strong gesture to wake up from the complacency and apathy and confront the stark reality of the dysfunctional and dangerous world that we are living in. The slap sobered up the drunken state that we are in and reminded us of the true colours of our lackadaisical and hopeless politicians. The slap was so resounding that we frantically started searching for answers for the thorny questions that we should have posed decades earlier. Sixty years after independence, the voter for the first time realized that he shot himself in the foot.

To give the fair share of credit to the politicians, could they have done any better? No government however efficient they may be cannot fully prevent a terrorist attack and 9/11, 7/7 and Madrid train bombings are few examples. But, there hasn't been attacks on this scale since these happened in the west because the Western democracies have made the homeland security their national priority, and the key word here is PRIORITIZE. Where as in the case of India, some politicians can hardly spell the word let alone action it. While some of rabble-rouser politicians are busy prioritizing trivial communal issues for their narrow gains, a percentage of them have other priorities such as preparing to fight the impending criminal convictions that are pending in the higher courts. Shamefully, six of our politicians, the so-called MPs from hell (Shahbuddin, Pappu Yadav, Surajbhan Singh, Atique Ahmad, Afzal Ansari and Umakant Yadav) are serving jail sentences for crimes ranging from kidnapping to murder and they have other priorities as we can see. The Congress party's priority since time immemorial has been to make sure that Nehru-Gandhi dynasty's bloodline continues to lead the party and where as BJP's priority has been to play to the tunes of the majority Hindu vote-bank .On the other hand all other parties' sole agenda has been to make hay when the sun shines. In a nutshell our politicians cannot and did not get the priorities right.

The Indian poor is still precariously clinging to the poverty line by the barest of threads and on the other hand our judicial system is crumbling with overloaded cases that are decades old. A decent health system is virtually non-functional and beyond the reach of a common man and the police institution corrupt with their infrastructure dilapidated and archaic. While the political system is rotten to its core, the internal security is in such a despicable state that terrorists can create havoc at their will and yet our bickering politicians have managed to prioritize none of the above. Thanks to the Mumbai attacks, the dissatisfaction among Indians has now reached overwhelming levels and it has now over flown in the form of anger and disgust against the politicians. This change is a welcome sign, a change which is long overdue. This is a slap in the faces of our imbecile politicians who for so long were in a long slumber, completely oblivious to the problems around them.

However, it would be a mistake of biblical proportions if we as citizens of India abdicate our moral responsibility for these attacks as we are to an extent accountable as any politician is. The politicians are what they are because of our vote. Like the turkeys voting for Christmas, we have voted for our politicians and we will have to bear the consequences. Moreover, the anger and frustration of the public against politicos that is so positively and frequently reiterated in the media is another positive change and the longer they manage to keep the wounds fresh the better, as this keeps our politicians under intense pressure. But amidst the fervour and jingoism, we are missing something here. The voices of change in the governance that we are frequently hearing in the aftermath of the attacks are the voices of the educated, english speaking working class which although a considerable representation, is not significant enough to bring about change in the political setup of India. More than sixty percent of Indian population live in villages, most of them unprivileged and socially deprived of the comforts we otherwise take it for granted, for whom terrorism is relatively insignificant compared to the penuries and hardship they face everyday , and their voices haven't been heard at all amidst this turmoil. It is in fact their share of votes that actually plays a major role in deciding the fate of our country and our opportunist politicians have 60 years of experience and expertise in taking full advantage of their situation. Until, we do not succeed in bringing about a change and uplift this under privileged class, any noteworthy change in our political setup, would be a distant dream. Such an upliftment of our poor is only possible by a diligent, conscientious and visionary political governance and this is where we have the chicken and the egg problem.

It wouldn't help to be pessimistic in these difficult times, but on an optimistic note, I have to admit that we have made a decent start. But we need to keep the crank shaft moving until it catches enough momentum so as to bring about a change we have been aspiring for so long or else we would not do be doing any justice to the innocent lives that were lost in one of the most heart-breaking tragedies ever witnessed on the Indian soil.

Rajesh Kandadai

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