Dec 6, 2008

Who would bell the Elephant??

This blog post is a digression...this is about my beloved bleeding country - India. Until a few days back, I'd been one of those unpatriotic, if not disloyal Indian taxpayer, too busy in quotidian qualms (like tax calculation) to be worried about the Indian state. To me or my "techie" associates, Indian politics or any banter bordering it, served as a contentious lunch-time discussion, and was comfortably forgotten on returning back to our qualms. This Nov 26, a few young men changed it. It's been more than a week now, the Mumbai episode and the sad state of India continues to plague me. Public memory is supposedly short-lived, mine is shorter-lived, and lest I forget, here's the post...

There were terror strikes...lives were taken away in a way that was not supposed to be... feelings of apprehension, gloom and anger ensued amongst the Indian diaspora... a few political positions were re-arranged ...and with the mundane necessities of the lives that exist, amidst resting resentment, we are bouncing back with the usual "indomitable spirit". Anger is of some good, only if it gets translated to actions, bolstered by a rationale to retrospect on what went wrong...

What breastfeeds such terrorism? Is it the usual fallback factor - religious fanaticism or a deeper psychological phenomenon of vengeance of an offended community or a more economic reason of indigence or is it some burgeoning business somewhere? None of the above? Or all of the above? Or any of the above?Answers please!!!

Whatever it is, it would do us good to discern disdainfully that a state has no complete control over terrorism especially if it is emanating from a land outside its jurisdiction. But it does have complete control over its own defense and the intelligence feeding it. So, it is every Indian subject's (taxpayer or tax calculator) expectation that his government would defend him against terrorism with its daunting defense and would foil the best-laid plans of terrorism with its inate intelligence. So what went wrong this time?

No, dont blame just the politicians again..Remember the bureaucrats ? Politicians may come and politicians may go, but a bureaucrat goes on forever...Together, with their actions or non-actions, politicians and the bureaucrats have let the average Indian's expectation down..yet again..Is it because the men in power didnt act or the men who wanted to act didnt have the power? If so, is there something fundamentally wrong with the system of the "largest" democracy in the world? Afterall, we do not choose our leaders directly, India is an indirect democracy...representation is indirect, power is distributed, and so is accountability..

Well, there have been a few success stories of the bureaucracy too..Railways for instance, as quoted by a friend.The same friend barbs "...The politicians must leave the able bureaucrats to themselves, give them their space and time..and the results will ensue.." True, how many politicians do that? And how many "able bureaucrats" exist in the system today? I dont have the statistics, (Statistics are like bikinis, what they show is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital), but the vital picture is not too appealing...

So what do we do to make the picture more appealing? Given that we are bound by the vicissitudes of this existing system, the best the average Indian could do is to raise the class of the average politician and the average bureaucrat. So would you, the above-average reader of this post, quit your white collared or collarless job and become an above-average politician or bureaucrat? Would you bell this supposedly wise elephant called India?

8 comments:

Kamini Santhanagopalan said...

Nithya, you can add the mouse-over for letting the "below average" readers the meanings of those complicated words! :D

Jokes apart, a well written blog..however, "poonaikku mani katrathu" nu thaane tamizh la solluvom..when did it become a yaanai?

Kamini Santhanagopalan said...

In my opinion, I agree that politicians can not be held responsible for EVERYthing, but they should be held responsible for MOST of the things..

Ananth Shrinivas said...

While I can understand and share your outrage over Mumbai, ivy schooled white collar workers quitting their jobs and taking up politics won't change anything (if history is to be believed).

We had a distinguished nuclear scientist as president. A Ph.D from Oxford is our Prime Minister. An MBA from Harvard is the Finance Minister. The Alma Mater of the current cabinet includes St. Xaviers, St. Stephens, Trinity College, Cambridge University and so on. Our distinguished public school boys don't seem to have done much good according to your analysis.

The standard of performance of the state over 60 years shows a systemic weakness, which is not very surprising since the roots of our civil governance were derived from an Island whose population, complexities and pathologies are an order of magnitude less than our own. I can only guess that our founders never had the vision of men like Jefferson or Lincoln and overlooked critical things like modernizing agriculture, social equality, education, civil administration and industrial quality.

And I think that Mumbai is hardly a trigger enough to spark change in the way a country operates. We live in a world where Darfur, Mugabe and Georgia are just headlines on CNN.

The French Revolution happened primarily because people were starving. The Russian Revolution happened because people were poor. Only fundamental causes seem to effect fundamental change. Political revolutions simply replace one set of beneficiaries for another - like Fidel Castro, Mao Zedong and the Ayatollah Khomeini.

9/11 did not change the politics of the United States. If anything, it was reinforced. George Bush won a second time in Florida, Vietnam was repeated in Iraq, the House of Saud gets richer every barrel, and Walmart still sells Chinese crap.

!avanT gardE said...

I like what Ananth [above] touched upon. I think our desperation is yet to peak.

Why are bloggers loath to broach the underlying current of religion. There is a source of terrorism and there is a palliative measure. We can debate these measures over and over, fruitlessly. [either we act or we fill it, shut it and forget it].
Lets talk religion here. I am curious, if terrorism is a state of mind why is it tainted all over with the color of a single religion? Are we afraid to ask this question?

Ram said...

Due credit for a patriotic post.
But I feel our foreign policy has a lot more to do with this debacle rather than anything else.

We resemble Israel very closely with regards to political neighbours. Iran and Lebanon are classic analogies to Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. We have a lot to learn from Israel as to how they are able to guard themselves against such terrorist hazards. I think with a clear foreign policy (which I guess we could have only with political stability in the country) and sustained internal economic growth, this whole issue of terrorism can be beaten.

I believe that contentment drives out terrorism and contentment comes with growth.

Ram Srinivasan said...

I do not think white collar folks taking up politics will solve this problem. There are bunch of problems that needs to be solved before India can actually shine.

Honestly i think most Indians call themselves as Indians only during a cricket match. Politicians will threaten to withdraw their support if some folks are getting killed in a neighboring country, but they will be happy and taking care of their culture and language even if Indian nationals die in terrorism. We have not gone past the stage of supporting our neighboring states for the betterment of the country. Can we atleast nationlise the rivers first? The same is also true with our neighbors. We hardly have any co-ordial relationship with Pak, Bangladesh and China.

Do we really need a multi-party system in a country where everybody does what he thinks his right? Having choices is onething in life but having too many choices will confuse most people. Going to Subway sandwich shop is way too easy for me, because i have exactly one choice, Veggie delight - easy and simple.

On Aug 15th 2008, Srinagar hoisted the Pakistani flag in the city center. What where the cops and army men doing? What was the reaction from public? The folks who hoisted the flag said they are pakistanis. Can Indian government help them and transport to the Pakistan because they seem to be lost in India, or even better, can they be killed so that they will be shahids and end up with 72 or 99 virgins in heaven?

To solve the problem of terrorism, there has to be some smart and bold moves. For example, can India do the act of splitting Pakistan into two or three countries? Can they cause disharmony there to instigate a civil war.Please do not tell me this is not patriotic, i also will say, should we have a united India which is not united in any other aspect other than a cricket match or some other event? Or lets hope Pakistan prospers so much they will not have much interest in waging terrorism because i find terrorism is mostly because of socio-economic background.Of course, religion is used as the medium to convey that message.
But having a very strong economic superpower will cause more damage to us in the long run.

Finally, terrorism is tackled everyday, but one failure will lead to like 9/11 or 11/26. Does the public know how much effort is being put by the ATS team on a daily basis?

PS: Please add dictionary.com for future postings. It took a while to decode your posting.

Jay said...

Truth which is Impeccable and Excellent Diction...

Anonymous said...

Nithya,
I like Kamini’s suggestion regarding “mouse-overs”. (Actually, quite a sensible response to Prakash’s comment on your other blog-post.) Too many people with a smattering of basic English parade their ignorance (by wanting everyone to “dumb down” to their level) and their inferiority complex by asinine comments on blogs (matters) they don’t follow. Imagine someone in this day and age making a statement like “Here are some of the words from your article that may require dictionary (sic): audacious, contentious converse, Another stupendous corollary”

And Ananth’s comment is far more thought provoking. Each para of his raises new issues that would be worth examining in far more detail and context.

And Nithya, check out www.Nithya13.blogspot.com