An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Terror: My Take

I might be totally off the mark here when I say all of this. But then again, if I feel so strongly about it, maybe there is something right about it, if not completely. I’m not a revolutionary. I’m not half as intellectually inclined as most of the people who have been talking about the recent terror attacks in Mumbai. My knowledge of the state of world affairs is greatly limited to the

Be it the terror attacks or be it the floods or merely the unhygienic conditions existing in most parts of India including Mumbai; I feel the core problem is a complete lack of self respect amongst the residents of this country. The same people who were shouting “Bharat mata ki jai” outside Nariman House were also the ones spitting on the same road. And they were also the ones who would not think twice before throwing a gutkha or a chocolate wrapper on the road.

We don’t care what happens to others as long as it doesn’t directly affect us. I’m reminded of Naseeruddin Shah’s monologue in a recently released film ‘A WEDNESDAY’ (quite ironically named so), where he aptly says, “our problem is that we get used to things very fast.” I’m sure, after the attacks, we all must have sent ‘sms’es and called our friends and relatives all over Mumbai. Ensured that they are ok and then stayed glued to our TV screens. One of my friends described the whole media coverage of the incident a “3 day long thriller”. And I’m sure somewhere that holds true for most of us who did not know any of the victims directly or indirectly.

Also read:  Free will

I’m not suggesting that there’s much we could have done in terms of action at the given point in time. I’m only talking about an overall attitude.

It’s not like India or in fact even Mumbai has been under attack by terrorists for the first time. In fact, strategically, Mumbai is the softest and the most potent target for such attacks. I distinctly remember how the security had suddenly been beefed up at all local railway stations, hotels, malls and other public places after the train blasts. The entire vigilance episode lasted for about a little over 2 weeks. And then, we were back to square one. We still had police beat tables at the stations but no police personnel there. And even if sometimes you saw one or two, they would be rather busy reading the newspaper or scrutinizing the various parts of female anatomy or any other such engrossing activity. I have, personally, walked in & out of many malls with a huge bag on my back and no real check. All I had to tell the security personnel was, “Its a laptop bag”, and I would be allowed to go through without frisking. As if carrying a laptop was a guarantee that you cannot be a terrorist carrying a hand grenade in the same bag. Isn’t that cool!

Terrorists, according to me, are not born. Neither does any religion breed them. They are very carefully crafted by the small things we all do.

We pass through a clean lane eating a banana and once we are done, the skin of the fruit takes up a place of pride somewhere on the same street. Then suddenly, because we have been walking for so long, we feel the urge to pee. What better place than a clean lane right next to us! And as is a habit with a lot of us, we have to spit once we are done with the act of relieving ourselves. Now, we obviously wouldn’t go looking for a new place to spit, right? We do all this in that clean lane for a few days. Then, one day, we cross that lane and suddenly a stench fills up our noses. “Disgusting. No one can help this country. The government sucks man. No one cleans up this shit or what?” are just some of the thoughts that cross our minds.

Well. Welcome, my friends to India. And if you don’t remember, all this is something you have created. We create misery and then crib about it. And get frustrated by it. And a frustrated mind is the best raw material for the amazing craftsmen who I refer to as “the terror breeders”.

The irony of this whole situation is that if you put any of these people in any of the European countries or US of A, they will not repeat this sequence of events. They’ll walk an extra mile if they have to but they will make sure that the chocolate wrapper only goes into the dust bin.

SO, MY WHOLE POINT IS: it’s no point blaming the security agencies or the terrorists. What we as citizens of the country need to do first and foremost is, to take up responsibility. And I’m not talking about big things like policy reforms or compulsory military training for all. I’m not even talking about things like practicing your right to vote for the right people. No such revolutionary ideas. Just very basic things. Like look under your seat when you sit in the bus or train. And I’m not talking about just terror attacks. I’m talking about inculcating a feeling of respect, both for the individual as well as the nation. Because according to me patriotism is not about hoisting the national flag and chanting “Bharat Mata ki jai”. It’s about ensuring that we keep it clean of garbage and anti social elements.

I’m sure, I’m sounding repetitive. I’m sure I’m saying nothing new. Honestly, I don’t intend to either. The objective here is to remind all of us about the ground realities that we all know of but don’t do much about.

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2 Comments
  1. Desh says

    A very different and refreshing take on this issue! Am amazed by the maturity of thought – since I have seen you grow 🙂

    I think the cleanliness is also an issue of how we have “configured” the country. Now, it is not that in the US, people do not create garbage – they do .. just that there is a viable business for companies like Waste Management to put up bins around the cities and come pick up garbage at the right times. The people pay for that. Would we?

    It is cool in US these days to question people’s “greed” but really speaking Capitalism ASSUMES greed! Just that Capitalism assumes that greed and self interest triumph over altruism and then comes up with ways to best “harness” that greed and self interest!

    Appealing to a person’s “altruism” cannot be a “policy” or a recipe for collective action… rather managing people’s greed should be via adequate policy and polity interventions!

  2. Desh says

    A very different and refreshing take on this issue! Am amazed by the maturity of thought – since I have seen you grow 🙂

    I think the cleanliness is also an issue of how we have “configured” the country. Now, it is not that in the US, people do not create garbage – they do .. just that there is a viable business for companies like Waste Management to put up bins around the cities and come pick up garbage at the right times. The people pay for that. Would we?

    It is cool in US these days to question people’s “greed” but really speaking Capitalism ASSUMES greed! Just that Capitalism assumes that greed and self interest triumph over altruism and then comes up with ways to best “harness” that greed and self interest!

    Appealing to a person’s “altruism” cannot be a “policy” or a recipe for collective action… rather managing people’s greed should be via adequate policy and polity interventions!

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