Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The C-Word ...

I just heard this on TV, and got inspired ( frustrated might be a better word to describe the feeling) to write this blog.

Kapil Sibal tells us that the government has ensured "peace and tranquility" in the country because there were no communal tensions. So, all the terrorist attacks that happened across the country over the past 4 years did not disturb "peace and tranquility" as long as they didn't incite communal hatred? So, it's alright that about 500-1000 innocent people of all religions die over a period of 4 years? And because there has been no "communal" tension, there was "peace and tranquility" in the country? Is this the veil behind which the UPA is trying to seek solace?

Why has communalism and secularism acquired such a narrow meaning in today's political environment? Does being Secular mean appeasing other religions? Does being Secular mean disliking your own faith and religion? Does being Secular mean overlooking the unruly elements in other religions? Why does a Amar Singh get away when he questions the Batla encounter purely on religious grounds? Is that secular?

All debates, discussions, and arguments somehow get centered around the topic of communalism. One party accuses the other, the other says something on its behalf, and the debate goes on and on. Leave aside discussing other issues threadbare, most of them do not even find a mention in these debates. It's like the principle opposition party has lost all its right to talk about any issue just because they are tagged with being "communal" in nature. The ruling party always takes solace in the fact that "they did it too!". How does one mistake make it acceptable to commit those mistakes again and again?

If the BJP questions about terrorism in the country, Congress reminds us about Parliament attack and Kandahar. I feel compelled to write what I think about Kandahar episode here, before moving on.

The Indian Airlines flight was hijacked from Kathmandu and the pilot was asked to fly directly to Lahore. However, the pilot landed the plane in Amritsar citing lack of fuel as the reason. The then government had 30-45 minutes at its disposal. By the time, the NSG commandos reached the airport (they were apparently struck in a traffic jam - not sure about this story) the aircraft took off from Amritsar, went to Lahore, got refueled, went to Dubai ( where some passengers were let off ) and immediately flew to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Taliban was ruling Afghanistan then. We had no diplomatic contact with them, and so the question of storming the plane did not arise. We then sent our best IB officials to negotiate with the terrorists. Their initial demands were to release about 70 terrorists. Very hard bargaining by Ajit Doval and team bought down the list to 3 people. The Indian government chose to release them, instead of risking the lives of the more than 150 passengers in the flight.

I am still not sure whether Jaswant Singh accompanying the terrorists was a good idea. Maybe he wanted to personally welcome the hostages on the plane, or maybe there was some other logic but it surely didn't matter to me. The whole episode did not look like a surrender to the terrorists to me. There was a hostage situation in Russia, and Putin ordered commandos inside. More than 100 pepole including children died in that siege. I am not sure if any government in India would ever take that kind of risk.

So when UPA chairperson says "we killed terrorists, while they released them", the statement smacks so much about escapism. The attack on Parliament during NDA rule was despicable to say the least and a huge failure of the intelligence. There is no second thought about it. And yet, we refuse to punish the person responsible for it. All terrorist attacks on the country are equally despicable and are intelligence failures of large magnitudes. Neither have we enabled robustness in our intelligence agencies, nor are we punishing the culprits after they are caught. Now, isn't this a peculiar situation? Neither are we interested in investing to prevent these attacks, nor are we interested in punishing the culprits after the attack!!

Let's move away from security for a while. Last year, some forces in the ruling dispensation tried to buy MP's in the hope to stay in power for another year. They were successful in doing that too. Some "friends" were awarded with plum posts too. Nothing mattered. What mattered was that the opposition party spoiled the sanctity of the House by displaying money inside the house. The bigger crime of bribing at the highest levels was no more an issue. The issue was whether CNN-IBN was right in carrying out a sting operation, and whether the money should have been displayed. At what point of time did we decide to skip the bigger evil, and concentrate on lesser evils?

Let's talk about the "Aam Aadmi" now. NREGA is a revolutionary scheme. There is no doubt about it. Why is that scheme not discussed in as much detail as "Communalism" is ? How to emulate the success stories, how to overcome the shortcomings ( it has done as much harm as it has done good, for example, many farmers lost their labour to this scheme, and their revenues took a beating), etc. Unless the average viewer is given information, where can he/she debate it? What about the farm loan waiver? Barely did the media talk about this for a couple of days, it got bored! How many of us know about the Forest Dwellers Act introduced by this government? It was maybe discussed for 5 minutes before the discussion moved on to Communalism!!

It is an irony that the leader of the world’s largest democracy refuses to fight elections, and that is not an election issue. We had an inept Home Minister for 4 ½ years, and that is not an election issue. The powers that be, could not find one single person to be the Finance Minister of the country, and that is not an election issue. Multiple terror attacks are not an election issue. Rising food prices despite falling inflation is not an election issue. Infrastructure for health and education is not an election issue. The NDA has been an irresponsible opposition for the past 5 years, and that is not an election issue. Many UPA constituents just abandon the Congress at the time of election. Are we to understand that the partners themselves are not confident about their leader? This is not an election issue! They then announce that they are still part of the UPA. These flip-flops are not election issues.

Well, Sab kuch chalta hai because the only thing that matters is the C-word.


shveta said...

Well written....
The day these national parties will stop pointing out their opponents mistakes and correct their own ones.. That's the day India can dream of being a developed nation. Till then the idea looks highly impossible.
And the whole communal debate is just a vote bank politics. None of the politicians really care about any religion (including their own).. we all know all they care about is power and money...
And this can stop only if the people of India realise the intentions of the politicians and stop getting carried away by this poilitical drama.Then the focus will go on things that truly matter. They will debate on this till we let them do it.. If they refuse to stop.. It is us who should take that responsibilty. If that's the only solution then so be it !

Sarath said...

Its not just a problem of the escapism of the politicians. Its also with the attitude of the "AAM-AADMI" that make politicians focus more on religion and caste then on actual issues.
Irrespective of the kind of work a politician did in the past, he gets re-elected. Why? He is of the same caste that is dominant in his constituency. Even rowdy sheeters get elected on the same logic.
Whom can we blame? the politicians? the so called religious heads? the various communities and association bodies in castes? or the voter?

Sandeep said...

I agree with what has been mentioned above. Both ruling n opposition parties have been inept at doing their jobs.

One cannot win an election based on "Communalism" element alone. Ofcourse there are more chances of winning it making "Development" a priority. That is why I feel the best examples in this case are Gujarat and Orissa. Both the leaders of the two states have only one Naara -- Development!!!!

So fact of the matter is.....the public vote for/elect a party, a leader whose focus is development all through along with maintaining the social decorum intact.

It won't be late before most parts of India realize this in today's testing times and set right the figures by effective voting!!!!

Anantha Mohan said...

Nicely written topic on most irritating, most widely and most wrongly used word "Secularism".

Some evil parties are just surviving by separating people by religion, caste. They are just following the British principle "Divide and rule".
They just treat each religion, caste/cult as vote bank, they don't wanted to see equality in India and welfare of the all groups.
Creating DIFFERENCES is the key and Appeasing politics are their mantra for their survival.

The fundamental mistake from any party is covering their mistakes by comparing with the mistakes of other party rule.

Right analysis on Kandhahar episode, the very Govt. which criticizing Kandhahar episode today, released militant to save daughter of a minister. Most important thing to note is that all this happened inside India.

Security of any country should be both internal and external.
If it is only external then we don't need Police and law. If it is only internal we don't need Military.


I feel it's the people who are to be blamed for all this. We probably don't understand the meaning being secular and communal. For many people Congress is a secular party whereas BJP is Communal. They feel if BJP comes to power, there will be communal rights in the country.
How many of us check for the party manifestos before casting our votes.
Until we come out of the clutches of religion and emotions while choosing a govt, we have to suffer like this.

Deshabhakta said...

Because of successful campaign by Indian Political Congress (unfortunately called Indian National Congress) and the media using the c-word, a government with almost nothing noteworthy to its credit in the last five years has been able to come back to power and lead the Nation for another five years. Hope we have an awakened Bhaarat at the earliest!

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