It has been more than a month and a half that the atrocious terrorist attacks across Mumbai took place. I should’ve probably written much earlier, but no one has been really waiting for my comments. Much has been written, much has been said, many fingers have been pointed, much has been debated, responsibility has been fixed and unsuspecting politicians have been beheaded, the bureaucrats and “babus” who run the system have gone scot-free. Even now, newspapers are agog with reports of Pakistan’s involvement in the attacks, of USA’s prodding Pakistan to cooperate, of Pakistan’s defiance and much such drivel.
India has well forgotten that the Mumbai attacks were not an isolated incident. Rather, it was the culmination of a series of bomb blasts that have been rocking the country for the last 5 years and had been happening more and more often in the last 2 years. Pakistan might be an angle in the Mumbai attacks, but aren’t the people of India entitled to know of the other blasts as well? People who were in smaller markets of Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Bangalore and so many other cities may not have been the hoi polloi and westerners thronging the 5-star hotels in Mumbai, but they were Indians and human lives all the same.
Some announcements have been made, though this government hardly has the time to implement them. It knows it is well on its way out for a long time. The National Security Agency, a centralized organization to coordinate intelligence, police and state law-and-order has been announced much too late, after enough damage has been done. And as is so typical of India, there has been no follow-up on the announcement either. Rather, we just hear news bits of our Prime Minister reiterating his position against terror and sleepily claiming “India will not tolerate terrorism” when there are bombs falling on his own backside. Ironically we spend $26.4 billion on our defence budget, with a hike of almost 7-10% every year, but our coast guards were largely missing when grenades and bombs and guns and RDX were off-loaded at the Mumbai docks.
Enough has been written, analyzed and already forgotten. Everyone’s busy leading his/her own life. Soon, India will forget too and leave Pakistan in peace. The ones who will not forget are the terrorists themselves. Breeding like mosquitoes, they will strike, again and again, in different places, in different ways, with different names. And all we can do is quibble, cry and forget.
As an able-bodied well-thinking patriotic Indian who could not sleep for those 3 nights of attacks on Mumbai, I have a trishul, a trident, a three-pronged strategy that, if followed, could bring India the peace it deserves. It might seem too philosophical, far-fetched and dreamy, but isn’t that how the resolutions sound that world leaders fly around signing? It is only when we have a framework, an approach, a line of thought that we, as a nation, can act in accordance to achieve the goals.
1. Who is an Indian?
With the population soon exceeding 1.1 billion people and on our way to beating China hands-down and with still no signs of a law to get the population under control, the sheer numbers are India’s biggest boon and curse. Coupled with this are the numerous border issues with neighboring countries, failing economies all around and highly porous international demarcations. As if the population of India is not mammoth enough, we have hundreds of illegal immigrants crossing over everyday in search of work and livelihood. Actually refugees, these people are aided by the corrupt system to be provided with false voter ID cards so that they can pose as Indians anywhere in the country. Set foot on Delhi and Gurgaon and you will start wondering if you’ve come to Bangladesh. Every rickshaw-puller, paan-shop owner and domestic helper in the National Capital Region is a Bangladeshi. Nepalese rank second, holding different kinds of jobs all over the country. Sri Lankans, Burmese and Tibetans form a sizeable third. Of course, we haven’t talked about the infiltration through Kashmir – but that would be more for antagonistic purposes than for earning livelihood.
The Government of India’s first duty is to identify its citizens and provide them with proper recognition. A social security system is of paramount importance and is the urgent need of the hour. A centralized database of information, accessible from all across the country, tracking the bank accounts, purchases, transactions, travels and movements of every Indian will help to not only bring clarity to the social problem of migration but will also immensely help resolve the security issue. With India’s hegemony in the software industry reaching far shores, it is unbelievable that the government has not yet tapped into this potential resource for its own benefit.
2. Where is India?
We have to remember that we are perched precariously onto a ledge that might topple over any moment. To our west, we have Pakistan that is perpetually in economic doldrums and is struggling to hold on to democracy for its own life. It has just about managed to register some votes and bring together two enemy political parties in a last-ditch effort to install democracy in the country. However, the elected government is as impotent as are the military, militia and tribes powerful. The Pakistan government is fighting to preserve its power against the omnipotent Army, its intelligence wing, the ISI and the numerous tribals in Baluchistan and North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan. To make situations worse, Americans are using Pakistan to fight Afghanistan and this, in turn, is both bringing more and more Taliban into Pakistani territory and enraging locals against America, thereby making Pakistan a target of the very terrorists it has bred over the decades. In all this commotion, it might have slipped the minds of the world leaders that Pakistan is a nuclear-weapons state.
India, as a powerful nation of South Asia, has the responsibility to tread this line carefully. We should understand that we cannot push the Pakistani government to a point where it is obliterated in its own country. A newly-formed government trying to find its own bearings and having no control over most of its territories is not an enemy but rather a diplomatic ally. To exchange bitter words with the Pakistani officials in the press will not serve anyone’s purpose. Rather, one day, when the Pakistani government has exhausted itself, its Army will take over and then India might find itself at the mercy of a rogue Army general ready to use its nuclear weapons on any enemy territory.
Therefore, India’s role should be constructive and if fight against terror is the actual purpose, then India should be cleaning up its own house first before trying to clean neighbors’ houses. We still don’t know who Indian Mujahideen is, though this group has successfully executed several bomb blasts and has bashfully claimed responsibility. Does the government need some reminding that there’s work to be done in its own backyard?
3. What is India?
Finally, but very significantly, if we, the people and the government, have to keep the idea of this variegated diverse nation alive, we will need to understand and sincerely follow the deep roots of this country and the ethics on which it was formed. It is a sovereign secular republic with equal opportunity, respect and dignity for all religions, social classes and people.
Challenging these very roots of India, there have been shameful incidents in the recent past that have marred the country’s texture beyond repair. The demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the Gujarat riots against Muslims in 2002, the violence against Christian missionaries, churches and nuns very recently and many more such incidents have shaken the foundations of this country. These are the reasons why groups like Indian Mujahideen have come up. A nation that does not respect its people will get no respect in return.
Hence, the leaders of India (or whatever these buffoons in Parliament might be called) have the huge task of rebuilding the country with blocks of trust, equality and secularism.
Let’s try these and check the data 10 years hence… actually do a check in 5 years. You will find that common sense and an intent for peace never lets down.