Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Terrorist Vs A Citizen not scared anymore I

If 20 people can hold 500 lives on the edge, imagine what a billion people can do in return

Anger can be sharper and more fatal than grenades.
All of us across India have seen and felt it alive in our hearts this weekend.
What has happened is sad but in some way, some way, it can be the watershed that might change India, for better.
And forget about anything else, if only, if only, we can keep this anger that's boiling in our veins right now, if only ....we can keep this anger breathing past the usual few weeks, India can be redefined historically.
We get scared,
A country of about a billion people, a country with one of the finest Armed forces in the world, a country that is now leaving its footsteps around the Moon, a country with the most talented-dollar-paid-and sought-after IT brains, a country of martyrs, a country of heroic grandpas who still recount as bed-time stories the grace and valour with which they drove away a colonial power of 200 years...yes the same country....kneels down when 20 barbaric minds swim across our shores and attack our best insignia.
So what do we do?
Get angry for some time till our TV channels switch over to the quotidian, non-sensical 'breaking-stories' all over again?
Or choose to preserve and stock this anger and use it in positive and yet some conclusive ways that only a citizen has the power and dignity to apply.

Extreme situations call for extreme steps...I just heard this in one very nice and violent corporate debate on a News Channel.
It was wonderful to see how angry, disillusioned and disappointed CXOs are choosing to react in the aftermath.
And it turns out that there are many weapons a peace-loving citizen can fire to ensure that another Terror siege doesn't catches a city pants-down.

Imagine, what happens when ...
A citizen refuses to vote for incompetent power-vultures.
A citizen wakes up and demands answers.
A citizen refuses to pay taxes.
A citizen gets oneself trained enough to defend and give back when a life comes face-to-face with a terror situation.
A citizen won't lose a second to slap back (if not in action, in equally reverberating words) whenever any narrow-menial-mean tongue starts talking or instigating our society into division of any it religious, regional, professional, linguistic, ethinc, any kind.
A citizen has the guts and the time to say 'Shut-up' when people use serious issues as water-cooler or coffee-table gossip meat that only sidelines sections of our society based on pre-historic-era questions like where they hail from, what language they speak, which God they worship, which domicile they use, which profession they follow .....refuse to listen...or better still, tell them with a stern-eye and a firm-tongue...Shut-up.

When, a citizen stops wasting time and energy on waiting and demanding from Government..and takes the dire scenario today in his as much as he/she not only fighting terrorism with vigilance, hawk-eyed alertness, the same do-or-die instinct that motivates a terrorist, and help to security forces whenever possible...but also by ensuring that the roots of terrorism are attacked taking care of issues like rumour-mongering, by fighting panic as bravely as possible and by beheading the very causes that are able to motivate a 21 year-young lad to believe and act on the command of 'kill as many as you can till your last breath'.
We may hoodwink ourselves into believing that our enemy nations are breeding terrorists, but it's time we have the nerve to realise that we do it everyday, in our normal lives whenever we disrespect a human or participate in gossips that alienate fellow-humans.

And when a citizen has the spine to stand up for his/her neighbour, be it in a train, a colony, an airplane, an office or a five-star hotel.

20 People-Not-Afraid Vs 500!
Imagine.... One Billion People-Not-Afraid against the Same 20!
Just look back at the incredible human-and-soldier spirit that bravehearts from the NSG Commandos and the Indian media people have showed between Nov 26 and 29, 2008, and we know that the word 'Imagine' is hardly needed.
One billion people-not-afraid against 20!
Let's wake our own power!


Friday, November 28, 2008

'Kooda-kachda' nikalna padega

Nov 26 -27, 2008 is the last nail in the coffin. Time now to shed our collars and put on the Sweeper's uniform.

48 hours gone now.
Taj is still under siege.
My friend in Mumbai tells me she is dead-afraid to get out as there could still be grenade-wielding terrorists randomly ambling on the roads.
TV Channels all over the world are watching as every Indian... be it the VIP hostage inside, the CEO, the police cop standing on vigil, the red-eyed journalist still reporting gunshots, the relative waiting outside, the widow of the martyr, the kid who came back from the-shut-down-school today and asked his mom bewildered 'What's happening', the waiter who saw the bullet shots, the angry filmstar speaking aloud on the TV, everybody, EXCEPT OUR HARD-SKINNED POLITICIANS, every Indian sits numb with terror.

It's not shameful anymore.
It's shameless.
And no, I don't want to waste any time now on saying these to our high-seated Neta Babus.
I am saying this to myself, to a normal Indian.
There's one thing called patience. There's another called paralysis.
There's one thing called being silent. There's another called being 'dumb'.
There's one thing called being calm. There's another called being deaf.

I recall one very emotional and angry line from Naseeruddin in a movie...Mujhe apne desh se ye kachda bahar chahiye.
For how long would we accept and kow tow our daily lives, our loved ones, our mental peace to the grip of terror?

There is garbage in our house today.
It's time to pick up the broom and burn the garbage away.
And the garbage does not necessarily mean the terrorists or their attempts, they mean the roots where they come from. They also mean the hypocrisy, the compartmentalised mindsets, the discriminatory treatment, the professional-economic-religious divide that forces a 25 year old to pick up a grenade against a fellow human.
The garbage also means the impotent machinery we, ourselves, by our own volition, have chosen and seated at the top chairs of our country. The very chairs who just serve as wheelchairs or cushions where politicians sit, wait and watch the bloody drama, only to come out two days later to encash personal tragedies as political agendas.

If citizens can pick up pens and cameras and turn into exemplary citizen journalists...why not citizen sweepers or citizen commandos.
Our peace and unity is our own responsibility.
It's time to sweep it out.
I am going to do it.
And the first step, where I would show what my broom can do, is at the upcoming elections...with my NO VOTE.
Answer me, I am your new vote bank.
Unless you prove that you can take care of my India's streets, stations, hotels and homes, don't have the gall to come and ask me for a vote.
I am not voting for vegetables anymore.

I am busy sweeping.
If anybody wishes to join, most welcome.
Let's start, share and learn...what can a ordinary citizen do when caught in a precarious situation, be it a five-star suite or a station platform?
Let's step out and ask for answers and share tips from today.
From citzens to sweepers to commandos.
Flush 'em out! ........and the first step is here......

Section 49-O of the Constitution (Your Right to vote for Nobody; Or reject all the candidates in the fray)

Did you know that there is a system in our constitution, as per the 1969 act, in section "49-O" that a person can go to the polling booth, confirm his identity, get his finger marked and convey the presiding election officer that he doesn't want to vote anyone!

Yes such a feature is available, but obviously these seemingly notorious leaders have never disclosed it. This is called "49-O".

Why should you go and say "I VOTE NOBODY"... because, in a ward, if a candidate wins, say by 123 votes, and that particular ward has received "49-O" votes more than 123, then that polling will be cancelled and will have to be re-polled. Not only that, but the candidature of the contestants will be removed and they cannot contest the re-polling, since people had already expressed their decision on them.

This would bring fear into parties and hence look for genuine candidates for their parties for election. This would change the way, of our whole political system... it is seemingly surprising why the election commission has not revealed such a feature to the public.... A wonderful weapon against corrupt parties in India... show your power, expressing your desire not to vote for anybody, is even more powerful than voting... USE YOUR POWER!

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. is snarling everywhere...Borders, Parliaments, IT facades, Stock market centres, Airports, Jewellery markets, Temples, Mosques, Shopping Malls, Schools, Train Stations. 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. 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.