Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

India battles to win

by Tarun Vijay

India knew about al-Qaida's threat to attack Mumbai, but it played it down for apparent reasons of vote bank politics. A United States embassy's
communiqué issued in August 2006 had warned about India being a target of al-Qaida. Though it was issued cautioning about a possible attack around the Independence Day that year, it should have served as an alarm bell to the Indian establishment and activated them to gather more intelligence inputs on al-Qaida strategies on India.

The advisory had said: "The embassy has learned that foreign terrorists, possibly including al-Qaida, allegedly intend to carry out a series of bombing attacks in and around New Delhi and Mumbai in the days leading up to India's Independence Day on August 15, 2006". We knew that India had been appearing in the speeches of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahirias as a 'target'. In a message broadcast in April, 2006, bin Laden had referred to a "Crusader-Zionist-Hindu conspiracy against the Muslims". But the government of India chose to play it down. As was reported in the Times of India.

The American warning had appeared in August 2006. But a meeting about it took place next year. The TOI reported on 7th August 2007 under the headline-'Centre plays down Qaida's threat to India', 'A meeting attended by senior MHA officials, intelligence brass, SPG chief B V Wanchoo and Delhi's commissioner of police Y S Dadwal, on Monday discussed the alleged threat from Al-Qaida.' Quoting a senior official, it said that he tried to play down the issue but admitted that it had been discussed. "We assess everything threadbare and everyone should refrain from making a larger-than-life image of such threats, which can also prove to be wrong at times," he said.

Proved to be wrong?

In fact TOI can be credited for having warned the nation a year before the attack came. The above quoted report had said, "Terrorism analysts universally agree that India's growing closeness to the US may have put it in the crosshairs of the international terror group. The recent announcement of the nuclear deal would have sharpened the focus. ..India's vulnerability stems from several factors. India is a naturally soft state, which makes it easier for terrorists." Why did Indian government not take it seriously and sought to play it down?

Pray, what are we doing, have done or intend to do?

A united tricoloured face that's what India needs today. Every colour and assertion merging into one signpost of our Indianness - the tricolour. Mumbai represents the best of Indian minds, the real secular spirit and entrepreneurship. Its time we salute that spirit and bow our heads before those valiant soldiers, Navy's commandos and policemen who fought and laid their lives for a cause so dear to us all- India. Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar, Ashok Kamte, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, Gajendra Singh are our nation's heroes.

Let this moment inspire us to flutter tricolour atop our houses, offices, and work stations as a challenge and a victory sign to the cowards who attacked us thinking they can cow us down and instill fear in our hearts. Instead it has further reinforced our resolve to stay united and fight the weeds. How I wish that everything we do, whether creating a blog or buying a bike or a car, that must have an essential sign- the tricolour, like we have bindi or a cross or a 786 locket.

It's not an emotional outburst but there are times when one has to forget the structural areas of frame worked worship to reach a greater god of a people. That, to me, can't be anything else but Bharat that is India. If India survives our gods still may have a space to be in. We lost Kabul, Rawalpindi and Lahore. And our gods lost their space too. So be an atheist, if that suits you, but keep your faith in one icon, that's India. Let a new Anand Math emerge against the invaders and let every colour that India wears be a part of it, as patriotically as tricolour inspires. While politicians failed, it's the people and the soldiers who held the tricolour high and fluttering. And the nation saluted them with tears of pride and praise. Let this spirit be visible in other areas of national concerns too.

Ugly colours of politics

Congress and BJP leaders should have been seen together in Mumbai to underline signature of united Indians ready to battle and win. But shamefully even on such occasion, party politics took over and the PM chose to trivialize the togetherness, which didn't occur.

This showed, once more, how ugly our politicians could become. That's one reason common citizens have begun hating them and praying oh god, please get rid us of these irrelevant dons of the parliament. See the way ad campaigns of political parties have tried to encash the terror. Media houses and channels are playing in the hands of various political parties and their poll eve headlines catered to their political masters. It was so visible and apparent. One newspaper that campaigned against the Hindu Right as a Talibani propagandist, specially picking on Malegaon case, gave a headline-'as forces fought terrorists, BJP is busy seeking votes'. It's more like a cheap line from a politically opponent's pamphlet rather than a journalist's report. If BJP was doing that, what were Sonia and Manmohan Singh doing in Mumbai and why their cohorts used full-page ads to use Mumbai terror to attack their opponent, mixing Kandhar with Mumbai? What was the relevance of it?

Attention diverted for vote banks?

And when time permits, there would be many questions that would have to be answered. Did India pay a heavy price of diverting all security attention to a Malegaon probe giving the Mumbai attackers an unattended space and time they needed? In an interesting reference to it, a highly reputed Army officer Lt. General Ashok Joshi (retd.) wrote," The indirect cost of the Malegaon-blast probe -- still climbing -- is very considerable. It is no one's case that the Malegaon blast probe is either unimportant or unnecessary. It appears, however, that the probe exclusively held the attention of the security apparatus until November 26, 2008, when the disaster occurred. This could well have been an unintended consequence, but it was terrible."

Media's 'Gulag'

Then they say-India is at war. Really? When was it not in the last two decades? Do we have to form our opinion on the words of a de-nationalized media that use every such opportunity to introduce new clichés and idioms to increase their circulation and market brand value? Have you noticed the anchors on the TV screens whose theatrical maneuvers completely overshadowed the person who they were supposed to be interviewing and the 'guests' were simply used to have anchors pour their high-pitched speeches? It was so kiddish and morally downgrading that the entire episode of a serious jihadi war was reduced to a page three tamasha , that inadvertently helped Jihadis inside the hotel as the news analysts have now commented. Not a single channel or newspaper devoted a space to question why did it happen to us? None discussed Osama's threats and the Islamic angle to the entire episode. So terrified and disoriented our media persons have become having 'possessed' by a 'hate the right wing Hindutva phobia'. They simply avoided discussing the basic issues. Was the real motive of the Jihadi attackers to cripple our Economy? Or hurting our business? And terrifying the western visitors and investors? Damaging India's reputation as a safe business centre? Were all these the real goals or just the means to achieve a distant aim?

The reporters whose every single line while reporting Malegaon was laced with 'Hindu terrorism' saw to it quite consciously not to mention 'Islamic Jihadi' even once in the passing. But there were efforts by a couple of media chatterers on the screen to mention 'now we have Hindu terrorism too' while discussing Mumbai's agony! This hate attack of the seculars even in times of such a tragedy is as killing as were the gunshots of the Jihadis inside the Taj and Oberoi. And they have monopolised the channels and the print media turning them into virtual Gulags.

The same crowd which has been singularly responsible for providing shields to the jihadi terrorism and speaking in the abusive language against the nationalist saffron side, was most vocal to question why police is not being given the appropriate arsenal, sophisticated guns and a proper combat ready uniform. The same words were heard when parliament was attacked. Nothing happened afterwards and none remembered it either. Police remains a soft target for the seculars and security forces are denied any rise in the sixth pay scales on the eve of Diwali. That much for their concern for men in Khaki and Olive green. None, yes none of them tried to ask one simple question, why it happened?

What wrong India has done to al-Qaida or the terrorists' organisations or their religious leaders that they should act in this horrendous manner? And is this the 'first' time, the very first and unique kind of an attack, which is the most ghastly so far? Why? And how? What had happened when the terrorists had attacked Akshar Dham? Do you remember the visuals and the commentaries and the reactions of the same old, seasoned and concerned glamorous media persons and leaders then?

What had happened when they had attacked the parliament and the members of parliament were holed up inside the central hall and the security forces fought a fierce gun battle on 13th December 2001? Were all those attacks just casual, old fashioned and without any trace of uniqueness? And this was too unique because Taj being Taj, a super high elite was involved in the tragic incident, which was made to reminisce in the dark hours of the active war zone how they had met their first girl friend in its heritage building?

Mumbai attack was like it had always been. Killings of the innocents and blasts before they prepared themselves to die.

Why?

Why they chose to kill our people even at the cost of their life? They were no small, ordinary thieves and supari-killers. Those who support their heinous crimes would call them 'brave and committed' men. Young, and ready to lay their lives for a cause so dear to them that they would forget the family bonds and a desire to live and enjoy this world. They were taught to prepare for a 'big contribution' to their faith and enjoy the after-life up there. They believed in every thing that was taught and did what they did.

Hence the question that must disturb us and make every Indian to seriously analyze and formulate a strategy is 'why India is on their target?'

India hasn't attacked them; on the contrary we always tried to project ourselves as friendly to Muslim countries even after getting insults and non-cooperation from them. Remember Rabat and the way Saudis and Malaysia has treated us and our people who are our blood and flesh. And the tightlipped Muslim countries during every war we fought. We are the victimes of their Jihad. Our land was bisected, our people were uprooted, killed and insulted, and our temples razed and land grabbed. Yet we chose the dialogue path. Then what's the reson of this 'revenge'? The answer lies in their ideological hatred for us, which has to be discussed on the intellectual level.

Weak leaders, strong commoners

Unfortunately India never had such a weak ideological and political leadership. During the Moghuls, Portuguese and the British, we had best of leaders who led the society through literature, culture, religious reformism, helping organize resistance to the invaders and had no confusion regarding the friends and the foes. They were definitely helped by the moneyed elite too, but the moneybags were never allowed to influence decisions. Their biggest forte was credibility and an uncompromising, predictable behaviour.

Today the biggest casualty of the Indian national movement has been the credibility gap and the growing influence of the moneyed, alienated elite with a colonized mindset that compels to convert our language and purposes into a secular framework before any inclusion in their invite list. The Congress, used to be a grand old alliance with a strong nationalist pitch. We have lost it to the same pressure groups that stand for a compromised hue of the alienated. And BJP is still fighting for its right-full space.

Any war is first fought intellectually and then on the grounds. India is facing its worst ever ideological war since the days of Shivaji and Guru Govind Singh. The attackers are not coming here to loot or colonise us. They are here to attack what they still perceive a Hindu India that has to be broken to expand their school of thought and faith. It's happening not because we have offended them. It's happening for just being what we are. And we have begun to assert our individuality, our distinguished way of life, within our precincts. And that's intolerable to them.

The temple priests of Somnath or the Acharyas of Nalanda hadn't gone to Turkistan or the barren lands of the Arabia to offend them and invite their wrath. We were always attacked for being just what we were. Hence this fight can't be replied without going into the real causes of the war and preparing an intellectual resistance that strengthens the minds before that empowers the sinews. That has to be an inclusive bond defining cultural and civilisational stream. Stress on the elements that unite rather than those which divide.

This war requires forging a united Indian resistance based on the love for our motherland and the elements that express her glory. We must ensure that the different faiths of worship do not get into a conflict with the patriotic fervour and we have shown, we can do it successfully, many times before. 1857 is one shining example of that. We showed it in 1971 and in Kargil too. We WILL show it this time too, come what may.

The author is the Director, Dr Syamaprasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.

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