Saturday, January 24, 2009

Just an imagination...

Just a few random thoughts. Apologies for the lack of grammatical correction or organization or attempt at coherence.


a cold day with snow all around and frost on the window panes and the mellow dew sunlight filtering into the room through that..and sleeping on a soft white bed under large white quilts the entire day...and green meadows outside over which a black stallion is riding by.

and far away is faintly visible in the fog a series of blue mountains with moss green vegetation on it..and far away one can see some houses where people are cooking porridge and the smoke is rising through the chimneys into the blue sky shadowed with cotton like clouds...and sleeping in the wooden room while thats what the world outside is.

and the only thing that disturbs this melancholic silence is the quaint tune of the flute of the shepherd who has taken his flock of sheep to graze on the pastures on the hills and somewhere far away there is a water fall...the faint sound of water falling onto the hard rocks and frothing up in its desperation to break the rocks...and you sleeping in the bed happily disturbed by these sounds

something exists because humanity strongly believes that it is true
sheer force of imagination can make abstract things tangible reality.
its just like the concept of God. like love, like the end of the universe .. people just believe in these things strongly without any proof of their existence
and these look real to many people.

Its just like suddenly believing that one particular man can change the world. Just like falling in love hoping this lady will change life.
Its temporary insanity and yet we continue to imagine and err.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Today are we really all Mumbaikers? (Part 3) {Characater of terror and what money can and cannot buy.}

{This article has also been put up here: Reform Our Democracy blog }

A naive question that sometimes rises in my mind is if let us say India were a nation where everyone is well-fed and every person has a happy life and everyone is well-educated then will India become completely resistant to all sorts of terror activities? Will such an India be a land which doesn't even become the breeding ground for terrorism? If everyone in this world has sufficient resources to survive then will that world be devoid of terrorism?

I deeply feel that the face of terror has changed a lot and the modern form of terrorism CAN NOT be checked by access to good life to everyone. Osama comes from a very rich family and his top men are well-educated professionals who are doctors, engineers etc.

We should realize that terrorists are no Robin Hoods who are fighting to acquire resources for some deprived people. They are basically thinkers who are motivated by some idealism beyond measure and are not coming from any economically deprived background.

Of course one is aware of how many poor families are exploited by these terror groups. They get threatened to pay either a large sum of money to these outfits or send some of their young men in the family to join the group. Obviously the poor people choose the later alternative. The poor section of the people are very vulnerable to exploitation and they eventually act as feeding centers of these groups.

But even then the question rises if there were no such poor people to exploit will terror groups get crippled?

Again I feel that the answer is NO. There are thousands of intellectuals across the world who are brain-running these organizations. They are well educated people with specific ideological motives. They are sharper diplomats than most governments have and are fine thinkers. They have propaganda running all around to motivate the young and educated to join their outfits and become vehicles in their way to attain those political and ideological goals. There is a huge section of these terror groups who are joining these outfits not out of any need or force but by sheer motivation of ideology.

A world where resources are available to everyone is not going to prevent the rise of this educated and motivated section of the terror groups.

One must realize that not every lay man can be converted into a terrorist. It is not easy to motivate a person to go on a kill and have him kill thousands. It takes a lot of awareness and understanding (or probably mis-understanding!) of the history and political complications that exist in this world to feel motivated for a reason and motivated enough to lay down one's life and kill thousands for it. It is a very different level of inspiration than what we can off-hand imagine. Many feel inspired by the words of some great orators like say Vivekananda or by the words of some public figure or politicians but these inspirations are far less than what is required to lay down one's life for it or kill thousands for it.

There is probably no one in India who is motivated by any politician or spiritual leader in India to the extent to which the terrorists are motivated by their intellectual gurus running these organizations from far away.

War against terrorism is not a fight against a few hundred men with sophisticated rifles but a fight against some ideologies which are far more stronger than anything else when it comes to motivate people.

To summarize we should realize the following character of the terrorists:

1. They are NOT a bunch of irrational people creating havoc. They are decisive thinkers with immense education behind them, who have a very specific interpretation of history and politics of this world. They are cool thinkers working with definite purpose and methods. They are people working with definite organization and discipline.

One can put it this way that if someday India concedes Kashmir to Pakistan then Masoor Azad and such men will be hailed as "freedom fighters" by many people and whose lives will be taught in history books in some parts of the world just as we teach about the lives of Bhagat Singh to Indian school children. Reciprocally British considered Bhagat Singh to be a terrorist and life of Bhagat Singh is not taught to British school children.

In our war against terrorism we should keep in mind that against whom we are fighting are glorified as "freedom fighters" among large sections of the people.

2. They are NOT people "without return address" (as US believed them to be some-time ago). They have specific shelters and refuge centers across the world. They have powerful patrons. Whenever they see themselves getting cornered by some government they have specific places to return to and hibernate, regroup and then again attack back when the time is ripe.

3. They are NOT people who are working out of deprivation. They are well-off people fighting for their ideological goals. One cannot hope to bargain with terrorists by offering in exchange money or other resources.

Terrorists have enough of anything that money can buy.

So any plan to counter terrorists have to keep the following in mind:

1. The immediate aim of the war has to be to try to eliminate the intellectual sources of terrorism with as much urgency as governments try to eliminate the financial and other material sources of terrorism.

With the thinkers and philosophers gone what shall be left of the terrorists is just clusters of men trained to shoot. Indian army can take care of them with ease. What the army will not be able to fight with ease are the thousands of strategists and political thinkers across the world who are motivating people across the world to fight for their ideals.

2. Talk to the vulnerable youth before the terrorist propaganda talks to them!
This I think is the most important thing to do now as an extension of the education system of India.

This shall have to be an extensive outreach form of the education system which goes knocking door to door across India and neighbouring countries to teach the youth about the ideas of nationhood and ways to practical realization of it. To teach them use their skills to directly solve the problems that their nation faces and do these BEFORE the sophisticated thinkers behind terror outfits go picking these youngsters and brainwashing them into their ideas of killing.

3. Try to eliminate poverty in specific places where terror groups are active. They are most vulnerable. If poverty elimination looks like a long plan then at least immediately hike up the security of these economically backward regions.

4. Have an extreme level of control of who and what enters through the borders of India. A definitive form of identification of every resident of India, like say a number that shall identify every Indian. And every person in India should be able to prove his identity of being an Indian by that number whenever and wherever demanded of. You might be sitting in the cafe with your girlfriend but if demanded suddenly in the cafe by some passing by army person, you should be able to prove that you are an Indian by that unique number. And if the person fails to do so she/he should be immediately taken into custody.

This may sound harsh but given the situation in India this is time for strict measures.

It shall be a very difficult thing to implement in a country of 1 billion where so many people are homeless and where there are million remote areas where no transport goes. But still I think this is an effort worth trying.\

Apart from the security aspect this numerical identification has the chance of unifying India through a common means rising beyond all other local identities.

We have too large and rough a boundary with Himalayas on one side and ocean on the other. Our borders are too porous and it is too difficult to control what goes on there. But we have to have very strict control of what goes in and goes out of it. Such high security at the borders will mean a sharp decline in the trade that occurs there but I suppose when national security is at stake it is a very small cost to pay.

The above control at the boundary and control over identification will definitely need to be supported by a strong drive across the nation to curb the population growth drastically. Today it is time we look at no child per family rule. 1 child per family also looks to be too costly given the devastatingly large burden of 1 billion.

Today standing in these times let us all Indians exchange all our personal freedoms and choices if the need comes for the sake of national security and to fight terrorism.

It is not the time to be politically correct.
It is not the time to preach ideas of a liberal world and democracy.

Today are we really all Mumbaikers? (Part 2) {Is the "Indian" fighting terrorism?}

{This article has also been put up here: Reform Our Democracy blog }

It is simple mathematics that the sum of a randomly chosen set of vectors will tend to 0 as we keep increasing the number of vectors. Precisely the situation with India. The huge diversity that exists in India rarely ever seems to work in favour of the nation since this diversity has through out history prevented any coherence between the thoughts of people across India to develop. The random phase differences has always led to destructive interference and whenever our Indian identity is suddenly under attack, like by Kasab and his men, the entire set of 1 billion people are unable to immediately respond with any unanimous voice or action. Aptly reflected in the dilapidated and confused response of the government to the issue.

How many more attacks on this land will it take for this nation to feel united?

India as it stands today is a land where one can get anything from life to love with money or muscle power. It is a nation where everything is a commodity and anything can be sold and acquired by force be it life or sex or body organs or seats in the parliament or seats in the train or marks in the examination. It is a nation where even the best of students in the elite institutes of India can be seen dancing to the tunes of the professors and buttering them to keep them happy so that they can get good grades and good recommendation letters so that they can get a seat in some US university. (Leave alone the fact that many professors are vulnerable to such lowly behaviours!). When I was in school in St.Xavier's Collegiate School, Kolkata, in class 8 I had seen my Hindi teacher "selling" marks in the examination. I didn't feel even slightly disappointed at failing in that exam when after the exam I saw one student go to the teacher after the class and telling him "Sir, Is 100Rs for every mark okay with you?". Over the next few days that teacher got gifts of various kinds. Since today I have no way to prove this incident in court, I can't write here the name of the teacher.

This nation CAN NOT fight terrorism.

We as a nation have been completely unable to build in some basic civic sense and environment consciousness. We have been unable to prevent people from spitting and throwing garbage in the streets and have been unable to ensure that people don't get into the trains without a reservation ticket. Leave alone the fact that most train ticket checkers in India can be bribed to get a place to sit in the train even if it is by the toilet! India as a nation has failed to imbibe within its people the basic ideas of honesty and correctness. It is a nation that lacks sincerity with anything it does and we unashamedly keep taking pride in some great men who have been from India whereas the rest of the country is completely disjoint from these handful of great Indians. It is a nation that has never seen a renaissance or a revolution that affected the common man. The common man has historically been kept away from all sorts of intellectual reforms or political upheavals.

And obviously in this strain one should mention our shameful failure to check the population growth. Its a time-bomb that has blasted and the repercussions continue to thrash us in day to day life. Various reasons rising from mainly vote-bank politics has corrupted the politicians and have prevented them from talking about this issue bravely and facing the population expansion problem. It seems completely ridiculous that this country in 50 years post independence can't control its population!

This failure is a collective failure of the Indian education system resulting from politically driven education system where every thing is done with the aim of ensuring a win in the elections than what is good for the country. We have compromised to the extent of not teaching some basic ideas to the students in fear that this might conflict other social and religious teachings and might result in the mass angered against the government.

This inability of India to follow logic and look beyond social customs and religious teachings has resulted in a jeopardized large population. A large population immediately becomes a breeding ground for hideous activities (could be terrorism ) since it is so easy to hide oneself in this large population.

India faces a complete internal security failure in form of loss of accountability of the people.

This nation CAN NOT fight terrorism.

What India lacks in general today is a sense of honesty at every level apart from the most tangible loss in the form of being prone to bribes and corruptions. Most professors in even the elite institutes of India simply come and go having taught nothing useful in the classes or having made any effort to be correct or having made any efforts to ensure that the student has learnt anything correct. Most of them simply hand-wave arbitrary things knowing that most students fearing back-reaction from the prof. in terms of bad marks and grades will not question. They produce students who have grown up listening to such hollow lectures full of erroneous ideas and they become teachers for the next generation and the cycle continues. There is no feed-back mechanism where things get corrected just as there is no check on a minister for those 5 years he is power. In the end what India is left with is a completely dilapidated education system in which it is solely a good student's credit if she/he has been able to learn something correct. And it is only best that we don't talk of the state of primary education in India...I wonder whether it "educates" anyone.

As a by-product we have a huge section of the youth in the colleges of India given to drugs and alcohol. Millions of potential thinkers and workers for India drowning their talents in narcotics. Unemployment in India is not just a result of growing population of India but is very much growing from the fact that the Indian youth is today devoid of thoughts and creativity but soaked in alcohol.

This nation with a corrupt education system and a lost youth CAN NOT fight terrorism.

We as Indians have weakened ourselves in every way we could have morally, physically and intellectually. We have built a nation where the youth neither thinks nor speaks the truth. We have created a nation where each and every person is in some way or the other afraid of falling out of favour with someone, student from the teacher and teacher from the head of the department or employee from the boss and the companies from the ruling party and the politicians from the part leader and so on the chain continues.

India is a nation built on favouritism going back to the times when the rajas and maharajs gave privileges or the Britishers bribed Nawabs etc with titles of "Rai Bahadur". We as a nation have never thought of attaining anything without favouritism and what hence we have a nation which never speaks the truth but only continues to try to be diplomatically correct so that she/he is socially well-off.

What better state than this could a nation be to be a soft target for the terrorists! With this factious state of affairs we have made ourselves extremely penetrable to all sorts of foreign designs. It is pretty trivial to play one section of the Indian population against another and generate local support. I am pretty sure that without generating local shelters a foreign force can't operate so efficiently. Further it is not just direct support in terms of resources and information but also to some extent there has to be presence of elements who render moral support.

Its only surprising that not all the terrorist groups across the world don't have their head quarters in India!

Today are we really all Mumbaikers? (Part 1) {Is it a nation of 1 billion people called "India" that is fighting terrorism together? }

{This article has also been put up here: Reform Our Democracy blog }

Recently it was reported that the ninth child, a girl, of a certain poor family in Bihar was sold by their parents to someone in exchange for a few square meals a day. I am sure it is one of the millions of such incidents in India which got reported. Its a country where poor daily wage labourers sell their blood for 500 or 1000Rs per bottle to earn a living and many people sell one of their kidneys for 50,000 to 1lakh rupees to stay alive.

This is my India that hopes to fight cross-border terrorism!

I find it ridiculous to say the least and obviously the only thing that comes from the prime-minister and the defence minister post 26/11 are a few hollow shouts at Pakistan. Isn't there a fat chance that the Indian government acted meekly against Pakistan sponsored terrorism simply to preserve their Muslim vote bank in India?Can't forget that the elections are knocking at their door!

Pakistan almost making a joke of India's calls by showing the world that it is trying to curb state sponsored terrorism by putting a few locks on the offices of some of the terrorists!

India as it stands has a completely hollowed society split under innumerable factions and it is too fragile a society in terms of unanimous thinking and this society CAN NOT fight terrorism. How is Ajmal Kasab and his men different from those doing business in India by selling kidneys, blood and doing pre-birth sex determination to kill the girl child? (whom Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen called the "Missing Women"...I wrote a blog about this some time ago )

An army fights as a group so that its organization is not infiltrated by the enemies. How can that army win a battle when its own organization is itself infiltrated by the enemies or its organization is itself crumbling due to corruption?

Let us not fool ourselves in taking pride in the elusive concept of "United Republic of India" and rusting statements about "Unity in Diversity"! "India" is just a concept that exists in pen and paper and has never existed in reality. People of this "nation" have never really thought in any unanimous way and have never thought of themselves as part of the same nation. The idea of "nationhood" has never been a part of the Indian psyche. A typical person from Kerala or West Bengal is very likely to give his first identity as a Keralite or Bengali rather than as an Indian. State identity is only one of the million possible identities that can get pre-dominance over their national identity. In some social or religious occasion, this Keralite or the Bengali might again get united under their identity of being a "Brahmin"! but even by mistake they might not unite as "Indian".

The nation called "India" is only an abstract idealization of a factious reality and the "Indian" is some fictional character.

We teach the school children very proudly about the "Revolt of 1857" and give them the idea that this supposedly "great Indian uprising" was the first organized revolt India launched against the British. I have found all these sugar-coated statements to be extremely erroneous and anyone who has read history even a little more carefully would have realized how completely disjoint the 1857 revolt was from common Indian. (not to mention the surgical door to door butchering of lakhs of Indians by the British post-revolt of those families who took part in the revolt)

1857 revolt came no where close to the French Revolution where the common man took up arms. 1857 revolt was purely a meek attempt by some local provincial kings to join forces to regain their authority over their lands. It was purely a fight by the local rulers to regain power and no one had any idea of "India" in them and they were not fighting for liberation of India.

The reality as I see today is that we still are split along the same lines as the armies in 1857 were split. Regional division is so deeply ingrained by those 200 dark years of British Rule in India that even today it takes only a little bit of spark to set one region on a blood-hunt of the other...recent example being the attack of the MNS against the candidates from Bihar!

This piece of land called "India" which is so deeply split along all sorts of local identities of caste, region, family (gharana and biradiri!), language etc is extremely vulnerable to the evil designs of any foreign power. It is trivial for foreign powers to take advantage of these local splits to infiltrate the society and create their shelters within India. Wars at the borders of India are pointless when such a split society further made desperate by killing poverty has been hacked into by the terrorists.

No wonder Al-Qaeda's recruitment advertisement tapes were found being circulated in Bihar.

And this issue of one particular identity of a person being hiked up is extremely generic to the way India works. "Those are Muslims. They are foreigners. They are terrorists" can be enough to raise many Hindus to kill Muslims in India irrespective of their profession whether she/he had another identity as a scientist or farmer or a clerk in a bank. Similarly many Christians in Orissa can probably now be made to kill Hindus by properly instigating their religious identity and telling them that "These Hindus have burnt your churches and priests". Indians have become extremely vulnerable to let any one of her/his identities being used as a crank to turn her/him into an instrument of terror.

At the end we have a completely divided India which is one nation only for a show and a cluster of provinces in reality with provincial heads working for personal gains. No wonder we still see politicians going to vote with their manifesto supporting a further split in India, the so called "Telengana"! And these splits have over the years given birth to numerous guerrilla warfare expert POWs (People War Groups), all of them fighting for local interests and indeed some of them have genuine reasons since various remote areas of India have always been forgotten by the government of India.

Imagine the situation if all these POWs could be motivated by the foreign terrorist groups to join them against a common enemy the "government in Delhi". It would be a severe collapse of the already fragile nation.

As soon as Mumbai was attacked I could hear voices around me suddenly preaching 2 ideas:

1. All Muslims be removed from India. It is impossible to live with them. They are anyway culturally so disjoint from us.

{I would rather kill myself than see people like A.P.J Abdul Kalam, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Gulzar, Amjad Ali and Zakeer Hussain thrown out of India because they are muslims!}

2. Let all Hindus assemble themselves into Hindu terror outfits which shall counter Muslim terrorism. Let the hard liners of Hinduism motivate all Hindus in India to form such military organizations. Even one former MP seemed to preach such similar ideas in an article in the newspaper Indian Express.

{I can't remember hearing more stupid ideas. Seems to me to be the perfect idea for Hindus to create a Frankenstein for themselves. I would like to put this very strongly that Hindu hard lined organization is NOT an answer to Muslim terror groups. It would be suicidal to say the least.}

But obviously one can't deny that most terror outfits in India are Islamic groups and clearly claim religion to be one of their main motivating factors. It is definitely necessary that the India government does a crackdown on all possible places and means through which such Islamic terrorist groups could be operating. Such an operation should definitely include all Mosques and Madrasas which have at various times been used as bases for terror groups. And we every now and then hear that many Madrasas are being used by terror groups as their training centers.

But now this would be extremely stupid if such a combing action gets interpreted by someone as an attack by Indian government against Muslims. One should be ready to look beyond every human emotion for the sake of national security.

But welcome to India! I am sure that many in the government would immediately oppose such a combing action since they would be afraid to lose their Muslim vote bank! This nation built on the lines of cheap politics can never hope to fight terrorism.

And then we hear further weird propaganda being carried on by various Muslim clerics outside India and there have been reports in the news papers that there are secret pamphlets getting circulated in various mosques in the Middle East which seem to say that the even though Muslims ruled India for about 800 years (Mughal Empire) it managed to convert only about 20% of India to Islam. What a shameful situation for Islam! They look at this as a great failure on the part of Islam and this is the time when this historic error needs to be corrected. Hence let us spensor terrorist groups and capture India and convert it to Islam.

Wonderful! If ever one needs an example to skewed ways of thinking then this is it!

And then from some of my friends in South India who are deeply religious about Hinduism I have heard statement like we should not count only the 200 years of British Rule as the only period of Indian history as being enslaved by a foreign power but we should count it has 1000 years including the Mughal period. They were equally foreign powers having enslaved India.

With such philosophies doing rounds in India I find it impossible to think how this nation can ever fight terrorism!