Blood Terror

Associating religion with terrorism is an act that is generally considered to be politically incorrect and insensitive, but even the most influential politicians tend to bring up direct references to religion when discussing increasing terror concerns. Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram, recently spoke of the rising threat of ‘saffron’ terror in India.

Members of India’s various saffron factions are alleged to be behind at least five terror attacks the country has suffered over the last decade. Saffron terror, which B Raman terms as ‘Hindu reprisal terrorism’, is currently not as big a threat as Islamist terrorism in terms of the count of loss of lives. But that does not mean there should be no check on it’s rise in India. Or that the threat should be dismissed.

Through out the last few decades, organizations like the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal have been involved in training extremist Hindus and giving provocative hate speeches in various parts of the country. The political wing of thes RSS is the BJP, which alongwith Shiv Sena responded disappointingly to Chidambaram’s remarks on saffron terror with negative behaviour that led to the Rajya Sabha being adjourned not once, but twice.

Any threatening phenomenon that causes innocent lives to be lost, according to me, is terrorism. It does not help if we calculate how threatening one form is in comparison to other forms. This may eventually impact our actions on the threats, which are of utmost importance.

Defenders and apologists of any form of terrorism turn a blind eye to the fact that innocent lives are lost, and that is never an acceptable thing. Not in the worst of cases. So the question is – if the spills of terrorism come out in the form of blood of innocent Indians, then why take sides? Let’s deal with all forms of terror, let’s eliminate all forms of terror.

Only this will ensure all forms of peace. And that, is the need of the hour.

Let’s Just Do Our Job

Approximately 1,600 people are reported to be dead in the depressing floods that have ravaged Pakistan in the last couple of months [NYT – Flood disaster may require largest aid effort in modern history]. This speaks of a disaster of enormous magnitude and deserves sympathy and (more importantly) aid in all forms from national governments across the world.

Including India.

And India has rightly obliged. The Government of India had announced a $5mn aid package that Pakistan, shockingly, took a while to decide whether to accept or not. They have finally accepted the offer [Times of India - Pak accepts India flood aid offer], but are unlikely to issue visas to around 400 Indian medics to travel to the country and play a role in treating the millions affected and displaced by the floods. [Economic Times – Pak unlikely to issue visas to Indian doctors]

Now, we have several issues that directly damage us and that directly involve Pakistan. But this is not the time to talk about those issues, and instead offer as much help as possible to the Pakistani people. This is believed to earn India some goodwill and one would expect that it would blow the lid on the image of India that the ISI-Taliban-Army nexus tries to create every now and then, and make it persist in public discourse.

However, it would be wise of us to not get carried away. Public memory is usually short and it is unlikely that Pakistan’s civil society will ever have a ‘clean’ opinion on India. This is largely because the textbooks in their schools are agenda-based, an agenda that is directly anti-India.

There is also the possibility that since hardliner elements in Pakistan are always likely to blame India, even for natural disasters, opinion is always likely to end up divided [Times of India – Pak hardliners blame India, US for floods]. The fact that Pakistan failed to accept our offer of aid for so long, speaks of enough scepticism about India that exists in the neighbour.

My point is that we must just do what the human being in us calls for (offer maximum possible aid, doctors) and then resume normal service, once things stabilize. Expecting any drastic change in public opinion or even return-goodwill on the part of Pakistan in strongly dealing with various terrorist elements is unnecessary.

And unlikely.

Why NRIs Shouldn’t Vote

A Bill that allows non-resident Indians to vote in India’s general elections has been given clearance by the Union Cabinet and will be introduced in Parliament soon for approval. [Link]

My views on voting rights to non-resident Indians are simple and to put it straight up front – I think NRIs should not be allowed to vote. Voting, for starters, decides the course that ‘mainland’ India takes every 5 years. This also means that the lives of a billion-plus people depend directly on this foremost activity (and duty, actually).

So what is actually supposed to be an activity of deep significance, can end up as nothing but a symbolic expression of ‘love’ or ‘patriotism’ when NRIs get to vote. NRIs, it can be safely said, are ‘another country’. Yes, they are Indians.

But voting and deciding the governing leaders of a place they do not live in (or don’t intend to, in many cases, for the rest of their lives) is offering too much power, minus any responsibility or accountability. No matter how much NRIs argue in favour of voting in India, they will find it difficult to justify not being accountable in all aspects, be it benefitting or suffering from the peoples’ choice of leaders.

The basic point I attempt to make in this argument is that if you do not live in the place, then it is unwise of you to play a role in hugely significant activities like general elections. NRIs contribute to the growth and rise of India in several ways, and it would be of continual benefit to India if they continued to impact the mainland in their own noble ways, ways that directly contribute to the Indian economy.

Voting, like Bollywood movies or cricket matches, isn’t an area where the quintessential NRI can chest-thump his/her ‘love’ for India (feelings usually linked with traditions, culture and the usual Bollywood/cricket). Again, it can be said that this love is a mere impulse, a basic feeling. It may last for long, but it does not mean much.

If emotions were to decide national policy, then India will be known as a ‘goodwill-God’ (of course, complemented by the usual widespread poverty, unemployment, poor state of public health, corruption etc). But the job, fortunately, of the Government is to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all her people.

NRIs can make several differences, no matter how small. Remittances and investments are strong areas of contribution, as is tourism. Something as simple as talking positively about India to their foreign friends and encouraging them to visit the country can also go a long way. Fortunately, NRIs already do all this. And much more.

Voting, however, may not be a wise idea.

There’s Always Something You Can Do

First of all, a very happy Independence Day to you.

It’s a dry day, I know. And that’s all that matters. Really. And a dry Sunday, at that. If you have cheekily stocked up on your booze, then more power to you. But all the expletives in the world can’t express your, otherwise, general frustration, can they?

Don’t worry. There’s always something you can do. To keep you busy on a boring Sunday without booze, da. Or on all such days.

1) Stone Kicking

The naughty folks (read ‘separatists’) in Kashmir believe in throwing stones at the Indian Army to keep them away from the streets of Srinagar and other cities and towns in the state. You, on the other hand, can kick stones. Yes, kick.

Areyyy, the ones that lie ‘harmlessly’ on public roads, the ones waiting to come into contact with the wheel of a vehicle and spring themselves at an innocent passer-by to hit him/her on the head. You can kick them away into the side, if you are crossing the road, or the road is empty.

2) Google Doodle!

Got a whole lot of free time to spare? Well, keep all your free time. Google wants just a few seconds of your time. The Google India website, every year, comes up with wonderful doodles that lead to mind-boggling admiration from Indians. And this year too, they are true to their promise.

Nothing wrong. Google’s doodles are something I’ve enjoyed all along. And you should too. Oh, once you are done taking a look at the doodle, you can obviously proceed to search for ‘Shakeela hot bath kiss’ or ‘Sherlyn nude’. Shakti Kapoor takes Google Doodles very seriously, you know. [Picture: Shakti Kapoor’s seriousness] [Picture courtesy: Greatbong]

3) View Independence Day-themed advertisements

One thing I enjoy doing on Independence Day is to take a look at how corporates have brilliantly placed the Indian tricolour very strategically in their ads.

Most ads would go like – ‘Proud to be an Indian. Wear Rupa Underwear & Banyan’ – making the viewer feel apologetic of not attaching with the cause. And the country. Even though you may be very (and rightly) attached with your currently used brand of innerwear.

For example, you could view The Times Of India’s website for starters. The wonderfully astute designers and editors at TOI are usually quick to vomit the three colours on their website as if to make you feel you are jumping into a swimming pool of Indianness. And drowning, of course.

4) Clean up the flags

It’s Independence Day. Time to flaunt the Indianness. I promise to buy an India flag, an India pin, an India cap, an India T-shirt and Uday Chopra jeans. Hey, there are no India jeans. Spare me, please. Except, I won’t really be buying all this.

But I promise I will clean the street. All these purchased flags that have slipped away from their owners, will of course lie on the streets of the same country they are a symbol of. So much for not keeping our cities clean, we tend to dirty our cities with our own flags.

Thank you for the love and patriotism you displayed when purchasing the damn thing, but I’d certainly not like seeing the tricolour on the road. In all seriousness.

Anyway, Independence Day be good to you and your family. Happy, also.

And please do remember – there’s always something you can do.

[Picture courtesy: Real Bollywood]