Mumbai Attacks : The week that was

It has been a week now since the ruthless attacks. Public anger has never been so omnipresent and neither have our politicians come under such a heavy scrutiny(no wonder they have been royally goofing up and giving tactless statements which is doing nothing less than fuelling the fire). Targeting foreign nationals in the attacks was one foolish move by the terrorists because the whole world is now upon them like red ants. Statements which included words like “Stateless actors” which intended on shrugging off the responsibilities were not bought by anyone and laughed at. Incidences like a movie director taking a walk in the burnt down Taj were blown out of proportion by the media while the public gulped the news in disbelief(Sometimes the media do comes handy).

THE GREAT INDIAN FUMBLE

It had been a week of revelations. A coup de theatre beyond an equal. Two days into the ghastly event and three statements made by our politicians were elemental in converting the tide into a tsunami. 
R.R Patil made a juvenile statement about the incident being a “small one” and dug the grave of his political career. 
BJP Vice President Abbas Naqvi puddled in troubled waters when he made the “women wearing powder and lipstick and burning candles” remark. The audacity of it was that he himself was wearing a coat while he defamed the Indians for aping the west and its an entirely different story that he was asked to comment on something else.  
The icing on the cake came from Kerela’s CM V.S. Achuthanandan who ended up making a statement which could be considered the worst insult someone can inflict on a martyr’s family. Of course, a lot of pressure went into making him apologize but the harm was already done. Sample this:

mumbai

On the other hand, the attacks opened up the Pandora’s box and everyone from the Intelligence Agencies to the Maharashtra Government and the Center turned a beetroot red. Our PM mumbled a few inaudible statements about setting up a federal spy agency and creating four NSG hubs while the nation came in terms with the fact that the Navy and the Coast Guard ignored the intercept from RAW that these attacks were expected, that the intelligence agencies had informed a year ago that such an attack was in the pipeline and that the U.S. informed India twice about the upcoming sea attack on Mumbai. The Government gave a jaw dropping performance making the citizens realize that their lives really don’t matter. The word politician ended up becoming a swear word and the nation realized that human life was the cheapest commodity in our country.
The way the whole operation was handled also came under the scanner. A minister taking 90 minutes to respond to such a critical situation, the NSG commandos transported from airport in BEST buses and shoved in the 1500 room Taj without any night vision equipment knowing very well that there was no electricity in the hotel and policemen wearing outdated bullet proof jackets was something which the common man was not ready to watch on live television. The crudity of it all was hard hitting.

THE REACTIONS

Israel offered help but India denied it without a second thought. Pakistan Government and media were busy vehemently denying any connection with the attacks. It was not surprising that Pakistan rejected the list sent by India stating that they wanted more proofs. I am sure that even if we dance in front of them with proof in our hands, they will even go to the extend of putting hot rods in their eyes to ignore us. The main accused of the 1993 blasts is still to be handed to us, even after ample proof of his involvement and whereabouts in his plush bungalow in Pakistan, so we can expect some action on this recent event in another 20 years. Ofcourse, there were some sane people who understood the gravity of the situation. You can read three very balanced articles by eminent Pakistani columnists here.

Although people have been dying left right and center in India since ages, the whole world suddenly woke up to the fact because this time the target were foreign nationals too. Atleast 26 of them lost their lives and although Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmadabad had gone through such similar attacks this year, the repercussion which the Mumbai attacks created were something else. Its good in many ways because this time, the “Rice” boiled with a lot of pressure over Pakistan. Lets just hope that the pressure mounts instead of subsiding.

WE THE PEOPLE

I don’t think India has seen such massive reaction from the citizens since a long time. People flooded the roads and the media projected the anger beautifully. For the first time I thought that they were doing something constructive, no matter how melodramatically. Its not just that we are condemning Pakistan(maybe we are too tired to do that now, because its of no use), but this time we were questioning our own security system. I just saw an operation done by a news channel where they were checking the security at one of the Delhi Railway Stations. Nothing has been done and its as vulnerable as it was earlier and that too when there have been reports that Delhi is the next target. A similar operation was done in Mumbai and the policemen were caught napping as a revolver was taken inside the railway station.

We have been pointing fingers at the politicians about being irresponsible but how much cliched it might sound, we have to be the change we want to see. We, as citizens of this nation, are also irresponsible at the grassroot level. Leave alone taking responsibilities about important issues, how many of us don’t bribe traffic police officers, litter of the road, do illegal constructions and break traffic rules? Did we succeed as a generation who considers themselves as Indians first and then something else? Isn’t it ironical that we need a tragedy of such humongous scale to unite us? Oscillating the Government from BJP to Congress and back to BJP is not going to play the trick and we all know that. Both the parties have an equally bad track record. Its the “people” of this nation who have to change, and those “people” include the “politicians” and “all of us”. 

Lets not become this guy who spit all his venom on a Jet air-hostess. Generalizing and putting a whole community in a box is the last thing which we should indulge in right now. Hats off to all those who stood up and actually did something to help the victims. I know one of them and you can find her here

FINALLY

Even though India has a go ahead for the air attacks in case the Pakistan Government fails to raise the terrorist camps to the ground, I am not sure if the Indian Government might actually take the step. I hope we don’t forget this incidence like so many other and our Government take the necessary steps without wasting ages to ponder over them. We don’t have that liberty left and it definitely doesn’t work when we end up being called “a known softie”.

Some interesting reads:

Dear Mr. Terrorist

Reflecting on Mumbai

For Heroes of Mumbai, Terror was a call to action

[photograph courtesy Times of India]

The shakable article of faith

tins_paintMichael Jackson is now Mikaeel after the singer embraced Islam. According to the reports, Jackson discussed religion with a music producer and songwriter of his new album, both of whom have converted to Islam. Michael warmed to the idea and the conversion happened.

This is not the first time when we have seen a celebrity converting to another religion. Half of Hollywood has already converted to Scientology and Quaker and back home A.R. Rehman’s conversion was the most visible one in the past few years. A common man also finds his own reasons for such conversions. Sometimes its for money, sometimes its because of the fear of death, sometimes its for love and sometimes its because of unanswered question which the present faith can’t answer.

Leaving aside the topic of Forced Conversions, according to this very elaborate survey done by The Pew Forum, 28% of American adults have left their faith in which they were born in favour of another. If the change of affiliation from one form of Protestantism to another is included, the percentage stands at a staggering 44%. Also the number of people who do not attach themselves to any faith have increased.

So, what is the big deal about changing religion and why do people indulge in the activity? Most of the children who are born to parents practicing a single faith, tend to accept the religion. The children born to parents with mixed religions tend to change their faith to an entirely new one because to the conflicts and confusions in their mind. It is nothing more than a mean of ironing out the complexities into which they were born. The whole idea of changing the religion stem out of the fact that people strive to smooth out their lives. It has more to do with psychology rather than pragmatism. It has more to do with finding an anchor.

I also believe that once a person has converted, he begins to subconsciously unclog his life. For e.g. the person can be a true blue dipsomaniac but might tend to leave the habit after conversion. This is something he could have done without converting but maybe he just needed a driving force. This does not mean that we can ask questions like – “So, would I be better off if I convert to another faith?”. The question should be – “Do I have to convert to another faith to be better off?”. Most of the times, the answer would be No, but as I pointed out earlier, some people do need a strong driving force, specially when their life had been turbulent.

Another aspect which raises its hood after conversions is – “How much does the life of the person change?” You can read the story of five people who converted to Islam here. Yes, the person has to go through a tough process of making the family and friends understand specially when the religions had always been conflicting. Sometimes, when the person converts for love, its hard to make the family understand specially when they realize that its the whole persona which is going to change.

Ofcourse, I must emphasise that I somehow don’t subscribe to the thought process which might lead to a conversion. To me, its something similar to changing your shampoo brand. Its still a shampoo which you are rubbing on your head! I somehow don’t connect to the idea of religion playing such an important part in my life and thus this whole topic fascinates me. I have been to a Church, a Gurudwara and a Temple and I could not find much of a difference. We pray in all of them for a better life. I could not grasp the idea where people stop calling God by a certain name and start calling him by another one. But I would love to meet a convert and understand his point of view.

Have you ever known a person who has converted from one religion to another?

Two interesting links which I found –

The Big Religion Chart

The Psychology of Religious Conversion