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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

still musing

Election Day in Mizoram and I get out of the house after staying in for around 40 hours (which I don’t do unless im sick)- and this too, at the insistence of a friend who woke me up around 11 to go cast our votes. I was determined to cast my vote, but hadn’t determined the time, well, that was fixed. Still feeling weak from dehydration after two days of not being able to contain my food, we walked slowly up to Sikulpui, and on to Sikulsen where we pressed the Electronic Voting Machine to sing to our favourite candidate’s tune! Amazing to see how much MPF has succeeded in bringing calm to an atmosphere usually charged with political tension. On previous election days (I’ve only voted twice but I do live right at the foot of the voting venue used every election-:D) there would be rows of party workers sitting on benches facing each other, loud music blaring from each counter. Party flags and posters would line these counters where workers busily called voters to help them look up their serial number in the Electoral Roll and it was a carnival-like air that filled my neighbourhood. The number of people making way to a particular counter was the criteria upon which that party candidate’s vote polled at that polling station would be judged , and statistics usually confirmed that. And by evening, many a time, we had an unscrupulous section of the voting public and an equally dodgy section of party workers working out what can only be considered shady deals that stood against the true spirit of democracy.

This year has been beautiful- no loud music, no party flags except for the banners of the three most prominent candidates visibly put up near the entrance to Sikulpui. And in the long counters were young people from within our community- YMA volunteers doing what biased party workers did in other years. The moment I walked out to Sikulpuikawn, I just knew this year was different and it brought real warmth to my heart cos this was a scene that said, “There’s hope yet” and im sure it was the same at all other poling stations as well- lets see what kind of reports come in to us in the following days.

And I wasn’t particularly inclined to feel happy either- 3 days of Mumbai on TV, all the while gritting my teeth in anger and taking inadequate breaths in fear; and falling sick right after learning Operation Cyclone was successful and talking to the one for whom I had feared the most. No, I wasn’t particularly inclined to feel happy. But it was a good feeling to be saddled with, notwithstanding the fact that it did not blow away my anger over the terror attack or the nausea that came with every smell of the rich food I usually loved.

For even after heroes were made and India still remained an un-warring nation, how can one get over the loss of Mumbai and the anger that must, needs, accompany it? The audacity of the young and capable men who made the nation cry still overwhelms, the conviction with which they carried out their dangerous mission still bewilders and the impudence with which they believed they could bring India to its knees, and almost did, still leaves a very bad taste. And in the aftermath, the first things we hear on TV is the blame-game that the powers that be have already started, of measures taken that could have meant so much had they been given attention to only a few days before and that made me think- can India ever really come together? Can we really ever get over the bureaucratic selfishness of every agency which would rather do a little in order to save their skins should anything go wrong rather than admit that some mistakes had indeed been made? Would India have mourned or been shocked as much had an attack of the same magnitude taken place at some decrepit, slummish settlement and not on the symbols of opulence and economic inequality among India’s millions?

Take, for example, the blatant manner in which Narendra Modi and L.K.Advani chose to appear at the targets right while the operation was underway to clear these sites- maximum impact approach!!! And after our 'hallowed' leaders chose such a time and place to grab media time, who can blame the ordinary citizens who were dying to appear on camera, making their way to the sites inspite of police warnings, some even getting shot by stray bullets in the process??? That was a clear case of 'Me first' attitude we have seen time and again. And as the TV guys pointed out time and again, the Prime Minister and L.K.Advani chose to travel to Mumbai seperately- need i say more???

And i cant understand how they could call the NSG the 'elite' force when they had to wait for hours at the airport for an aircraft to take them to Mumbai even as the nation waited for them to deliver?? And now three aircrafts are to be given to them!! My definition of 'elite' cannot stretch so far. And i believe in all these years of the NSG's existence, they have received training and are expected to bring results in cases of terror and hijack operations, and now we know they had been doing this all along without even an aircraft to their name?? There is a lack somewhere, its only a thought away for even the simple-minded where this lack could be.

Last night i heard a foreign tourist, one of those evacuated from the Taj who spoke of hundreds of policemen on the ground floor of the Taj, who had 'fear in their eyes'. Now what were they doing there, and hundreds?? I dont wanna end up being an eternal sceptic but left me wondering- is the police force to ill-trained for our times? Are images i have of men in khaki only to be those i've seen of them harassing auto rickshaw drivers and vulnerable looking young college students? The first thing that cam to mind when i heard that lady, though, was the story id read a few days back on the plane (i already said im lazy, i dont even read the papers regularly)where the story was about men in the police force against whom it had been proven that they'd framed 'innocents' and passed them as terrorists!! For what? Possibly monetary rewards, promotions or maybe as an answer to the immense pressure the higher-ups kept up on them to perform!!!

And what are the intelligence reports the security people and the Government is supposed to have ignored?? vague information on the possibilityof an attack by men who could be supposed as terrorists on any of the places in the huge city called Mumbai..or anything more specific which could be translated into action? Was RAW actually feeding the security forces anything substantial or a list of possibilities which, if acted upon, could have crippled the forces way out of their league? Was this information specific enough or could we just conclude that they were a bunch of 'save face' attempts should anything untoward turn up after all?? Questions and more questions are all i have right now and that, possibly is why im feeling so much anger and frustration cos this simple mind can only stretch so far!!

At the end of the day, one can only mourn for those whose lives were lost in that mindless attack, stories which would bring tears to the eyes of people who dont even cry at sad movies. One can only salute the heroes who braved the fire that the rest of their nation would be saved. And through all of that, one cant help feeling too little is being done, too many are trying to save faces and so many more are still trying to point a finger any which way they can.

When the funeral of ATS chief Karkare was being brought live on TV, Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai ( a man i love to admire!) spoke to former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro just as i had opened this month's Readers Digest to his article entitled' The Testimony of a Christian'. And i thought- such a lovely coincidence it might not even be a coincidence' and realised this was true as soon as i read his lines "I am a Christian...It is quite amazing that i did not think myself as a Christian all these years! I was an Indian." And thats exactly how i feel- inspite of my small eyes, my snub nose and my faith- I am and feel an Indian! I only wish everyone else would too ( and as i sign off with these words, im specifically thinkin of the infamous comment on "women with lipsticks" by a politician)

and before i go, check this video for the captions the user who posted it on youtube has lined it with...and here we are, wanting to put up a united front!! huiham!!

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