So I’m back to blogging after what I think was my longest break ever of 11 days. I hope you’ve been good in all this time. Have you been visiting other blogs? Naughty, naughty.
I’d promised in my last post to blog some thoughts on the aftermath of the attacks, but there was an overdose of facts, alleged facts and opinions around me, and I didn’t see any value joining in myself. I got many invitations to light candles, hold hands in unity, and join ‘say no to terrorism’ Facebook groups—as opposed to the ‘say yes to terrorism’ groups, I guess—but I declined them all, not seeing the point to them. I mean, they’re useful in terms of making an individual feel better in a time of sorrow and anger, and building a sense of community—but no more than that. It’s just temporary feel-good-ness
The continuous flow of outrage has amused me a bit. Why now? The LeT and other such groups have been fighting a war on India for years now, so the fact that there are terrorists out there who are plotting against India is hardly a revelation. Equally, my question to all those people complaining about how our governments have let us down is this: Where were you for the last 61 years? Ever since we achieved independence, our government has been designed to rule us, not serve us, and is like a massive beast feeding itself and getting fatter and fatter, while we labour under the illusion that this beast serves us. Hello? This beast serves only itself, and none of what went wrong, either with our security or with our response to the attacks, was atypical. This is what our government is, and has been for six decades. Why weren’t we outraged earlier?
Still, better now than never. There was a semblance of accountability after the attacks, with Shivraj Patil, Vilasrao Deshmukh and RR Patil resigning, and you would hope that this motivates their replacements to get their act together. But remember—one of them is Chhagan Bhujbal, and his return, after his earlier resignation because of the Telgi scam, holds a lesson for the Patils and Deshmukh: all this is a charade, and public memory is short.
The biggest issue with our government is one of accountability. Governments are held accountable by elections, but, alas, most politics in our country is identity politics, fought on the basis of caste, religion, ethnicity etc. Issues rarely decide elections. (Also, all politics in India is local, and no single issue can possibly decide a national election.) Will it be different this time? Perhaps. But if the Manmohan Singh government fails to bring the LeT planners to justice, what are the options you have? The BJP, under whom IC 814 took place?
We were lucky in capturing one terrorist alive—without Mohammad Ajmal Kasab’s confessions, we might have had indications that these attacks were the handiwork of the LeT, but no proof strong enough to convince the international community. Because of the details given to us by Kasab, some of them independently corroborated by the Indian and US intelligence establishments, there is no doubt about either the organisation or the people involved. That opens a window of opportunity for us to act tough, and we have to exploit that window, or rue the missed chance forever. We have the high moral ground right now, and we must act.
And how should we act? Unlike most commentators around me, I believe that I simply don’t have enough information to be able to comment on specifics. We don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes between the India, Pakistan and US governments, and I am inclined to give Manmohan Singh the benefit of the doubt, for now, when he says that restraint can be a sign of strength. Sure it can—but only if it achieves results. Rahul Gandhi’s words, that “there is also a cost to killing innocent Indians”, are encouraging—and this government must be judged by whether it can inflict that cost, and punish the perpetrators.
And that’s it for this post. Regular blogging resumes. Such relief comes.