Thursday, November 27, 2008
Terrorism turns a commodity
Once you make it an everyday occurence, terror and false assurances lose their effect. And what happens next is more fatal than we can imagine.
Last evening, as I was winding up work for the day, my colleague asked me "What story are you working on?".
I said, "Commoditisation of technology".
Didn't know then that 24 hours hence I would be substituting Terror for Tech, while the headline of the article remains unchanged.
But I am not half as excited or intellectually tickled as when I was working and researching on describing how Technology is becoming the new 'Denim'.
And it's the very lack of ebullience that makes me sure that my choice of the word 'commodity' is not indiscreet.
Because, yes, we are now back to the Television sets, to our mobiles and to our coffee tables, as India's business face, Mumbai, faces another terror attack, this time at our Tajs and our Oberois.
But as we go from one step to another, from hearing it in a SMS to switching on our TVs to blaming the impotent systems and reckless governments etc etc, I get a not so welcome Deja Vu feeling. I know that the routine is starting. And four days from now, the lava would slowly sink down a dormant crater till it erupts back from another volcano. It would go back to the crannies of oblivion, for you, for me, for the media, for the authorities, for the cops. Except of course, for those, who lose lives or their loved ones.
And the epiphany that strikes me now is that the 'routine' is settling in even now. Because the first question we ask after we get the first iota of news is 'Ab Kahan'? ''Is baar Kitne mare'?
The fact is that...we are getting used to it....and slowly but strongly drowning into the zone called 'INDIFFERENCE'.
And it won't be long before the common man travels from the stage of being indifferent for others to being indifferent about his life too.
The risk is a given today. We have accepted it. At the back of our minds we know the uncertainity of life when we embark that train, that plane or even buy that movie ticket.
And that's not the only reason why I call choose to call terror a commodity?
There are more.
Because....Terrorism can not be branded as Religious anymore. It's entering new shelves, like geo-political, financial, Have Vs Have Nots, Linguistic, ethnic and what not.
Because....it is snarling everywhere...Borders, Parliaments, IT facades, Stock market centres, Airports, Jewellery markets, Temples, Mosques, Shopping Malls, Schools, Train Stations.
Because...it has spread its claws to all kinds of hostages and diluted its presence...from war prisoners, Passengers on an airplane, pilgrims in a shrine, to kids in a school, guests in a five-star hotel, scientists in a academic institution, on-field journalists, and tourists on a holiday. From our buildings, our combat infrastructure, our defence, our intelligence, our patience to our minds and ability to endure.
Because....one of my friends who lives in Jammu invited me over for her marriage and all I replied then was, "Is your city safe to come to?" And today she can give it back to me by flipping the same question back.
And that's why terrorism is becoming a commodity. Even politicians are encashing and using it as recklessly as salt and soap whenever they want to play their favourite games like one-upmanship, blame-storming and vote-mongering. Even some sections in media find it a hot cake to bake their TRPs and readership on. Even normal people like you, like me, on our dinner tables with that TV remote in hand today would use it as the perfect gossip subject. We would talk, get angry, blame the government, and sleep over it.
Only to wake up the next day, for another uncertain day.
I wonder if this approaching indifference would be the final solution. Coz solution it would be.
Who would the terrorists terrorise when the common man would get indifferent to life itself. When he won't panic about a bomb anymore, because he would come to the terms with a stage where bombs are everywhere, ready to blow anytime, anyone.
When there would be no fear what would they terrorise with?
When there would be no lives left to kill, who would they terrorise?
When cities would surrender themselves as graveyards, who would the power-hungry rule upon?
As I was thinking all this, I wondered am I just zombied with all those TV shots and news bytes of Mumbai again.
But 15 minutes later, I had this words from an office peon, as we were whiling away our time gossiping about the blasts during a power-break.
I could see the anger turning into a more ferocious shade in his eyes as he said this. "Ye terrorist kaun hai pata nahin, magar ye jab pakar mein aayen to inke saath inke rishtedaaron ko bhi shoot kar dena chaiye. Just shoot them. Inke terrorist banane ki wajah ko, inke saath, khatam karo. Phir woh chahe koi bhi ho, kisi bhi jaat ka ho, bada ho ya gareeb ho. Ab hum tang aa gaye hain."
I could hear his actual message, "Don't rub off and test the common man too much."
It's time both sides of the terror realise the price of commoditisation.
Commoditisation if it is, it won't be that stale as it sounds for an FMCG brand.
It would in fact, be more dangerous and conclusive.
The movie Wednesday may turn real some day soon.