Friday, December 12, 2008

Reminder: Who is against us? And whom are we against?

What the recent terrorist attacks have done is reveal the cracks in our social fabric at every possible level. Everyone turned against everyone else, for no rhyme or reason.

When my friends Aalaap and Zameel refused to participate in the protest march of December 3, wherein denizens of Mumbai chose to gather at the Gateway of India to light candles, they were scolded, sneered at and were stigmatised as "unpatriotic", with someone actually going so far as to say, 'it's because of people like you all this [terrorist attack] is happening', and, 'it's because of people like you who don't do anything, no change is going to come about.'

People, people, people... who are our enemies? Oh, you don't have any enemies?

Okay, let me rephrase that, now that we're all returned to our individual selves and the hive-mind/collective-consciousness has dissipated: Who are the enemies of our state, our fellow citizens, our freedoms, our country, our very civilisation and all our ideologies? Who have repeatedly attempted to destabilise our country, one state at a time? Who have brain-washed and recruited our fellow Indians to turn against their own country? Who want to cause maximum carnage to maximum number of Indians and would target you or me or our loved ones JUST BECAUSE?

Exactly. THEY - we all know who they are, but remember -- it is NOT we.

We are the sufferers, the fellows who are united in anger and fear and disgust and loathing.

So would you mind NOT going against your fellow sufferers just because their ideas of showing their sorrow (or not showing it at all) are different from yours, or their ideas of "patriotism" do not involve making audible and visible statements? We cannot be divided any more - we must not. It's not a thing we can afford, not any more.

It's time to set aside the petty quarrels and the sense of one-upmanship. It's time to remember that there is a greater good to be worked towards, a greater good which holds true for that orderly in the Army cantonment in Dimapur; for that tanner drying camel leather near Pokhran; for your Mother and for your to-be-born nephews and nieces; for that girl who skips school to sell flowers at the Dal Lake; and for that boy who vowed to become a champion rower for the vallam kali during Onam.

Recognise that greater good. Remember that goal we all must work towards. Realise who we are and whom we are against. And take it from there.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Symbolic gesticulation belongs to the Age of Passivity; let's bring in the Age of Action, now.

So when a part of India went up in flames, I saw several commonplace statements on Websites... such as "Light a candle" or "Wear Black on Monday" or "Take a pledge" or "Walk Against Terror".

Facebook,, and many other sites kept these - these - things going.

I often wondered, while scouring the Intarwebz, what purpose could these things serve? Light a candle and accomplish what? Take a pledge against what? Fighting terror? Do we need to, you know, take an effing pledge? We wouldn't fight or protest terror without said effing pledge? And we, of course, must broadcast said pledge or said virtual candle or a bouquet of flowers or confirm attendance/acceptance for wearing black tees or taking long walks, on networking and other sites? Er.. okay, then.

But tell me, what purpose do these things serve? Do these things create some virtually-manufactured aegis under which readers of the Website or users of that Facebook application can actually congregate and, you know, do that solidarity thing?

But do we even need to do that? I mean, we ARE together, there IS solidarity, the entire NATION is united in being upset, and in mourning, and reeling under the shock of what happened, and being angry with whatever bit of machinery failed that these attacks came about.

Wearing black t-shirts or, or, lighting candles, or walking the length of Bombay is not going to shout those sentiments to the country any louder or any clearer; nor would it undo what was done. Nor would it pave the way for such a thing to NEVER happen again.

Let us have done with these actions now, people. Let us not indulge in this symbolic gesticulation any more. While it is all very nice and sweet and makes us feel all good and calm and unified in these terrifying times, it is POINTLESS!

If at all we want to honour those who died for us, carry out donation drives for the bereaved families - they are not getting too much from the State, so we can add to that. I don't just mean the NSG and the Narcoes, I mean everyone who does something to keep the peace, to protect us, whether it is that stick-wielding watchman down the road, or that Qualis-ful of policemen who shiver throughout the winter night but patrol the roads, all the same.

If at all we want to do something for our country, use the processes in place - elect strong and forward-thinking leaders, not mere politicians, leaders. Work together, with authorities, with fellow-countrymen, for every little thing.

Heck, I can even go out on a limb and say that if we try making this country a better place to live in, instead of bombing the crap out of it, certain elements people may even stop the process of destruction and destabilisation and instead, work towards integrating themselves into the System so they can reap the benefits of said system.

If at all, we, the people, have to take pledges, they should be to become better citizens and better countrymen - to exhibit a strong sense of responsibility for our country, our nation and a strong concern for our fellow citizens Every Single Day, not just when there are tragedies like this or calamities like the tsunami occur.

Enough of reality checks and perspective checks - we've had many of them in the past five years alone, and what have we to show for it? A week later, we will be back to quarrelling with each other over parking spots or exercising some imaginary right to road rage, and we will be back to doing all that with the self-same people who we felt so much for just a while ago, those who were victims of some riot, some terrorist attack, some thing which wasn't their fault, or who were affected in some blast somewhere, or who had someone in their families killed during some terrorist attack. And it will be so much for "solidarity", then.

We can't await a better world - it's not something that would be dropped into our laps by some deity (except for one who would have one hand clapped across its sniggering mouth and the other holding its quivering belly from which guffaws would be dying to erupt). No, we have to create it, or at least lay the foundations for it so it can be built upon by those who come in later.

To achieve that, we have to do what is concrete, what has far-reaching consequences; let us not expend ourselves in symbols and gestures when the need of the hour is action.**

(** Action could be something as simple as finding out how many hospitals are there in your area, and which of them are equipped to handled a large number of emergency situations. In case your area is attacked, do you know where to take the victims?

Action could also be as simple as co-operating with the traffic police when they are slowing down traffic for conducting stringent checks. Asking them if they know your parentage or who you are, or threatening or yelling at them for blocking the roads is counter-productive to fulfilling your responsibilities to your country. Why make their tasks a nightmare? They're doing it as part of their duty, help them discharge it.

I'm sure we can come up with some more ideas on "action", can't we?)

Cross-posted from my original blog dated December 2, 2008