Politics


The last few days have been tough. Ever since I heard the news about the mumbai terror attacks, my mind has been disturbed as one would expect. It sort of surprised me as to how much this affected me – although I guess I am now surprised that I should be surprised. I think it hit me squarely in the face when I first saw the couple of snapshots of that one terrorist. From then on, I could not rest until the ordeal was over. I was browsing, watching TV all the same time, sort of numb to the details – only wanting to hear that they nailed the bastards. When it was over, there was a bit of relief, but it was very little since anger, disgust and helplessness remain.  It still affects to me so that I am not finding solace even in music. I also did not think I could put enough coherent thoughts together to blog about this, and so I avoided blogging. But not doing it was adding to the angst. So here it goes – incoherent and fragmented.

The Indian TV news channels call it India’s 9/11 – and yes that looks cheaply sensationalistis. But to be honest, it rings true to me. Why? First, I never felt the full outrage on America’s 9/11 when it happened. This was not because I did not fully comprehend the monstrosity of the act, but our family had already had “our 9/11” just a few days leading to it. My dear nephew, 16 years young in age, battled for his life for 2 weeks following an asthma attack couple of weeks prior to 9/11. His funeral was on 9/11. As I was getting ready to go to the funeral that day, already completely drained physically and emotionally, I switched on the TV and saw the gory of 9/11 on every news channel. But it obviously did not register deep enough – it was simply more sh*t on top of a mountain of sh*t  God had rained on us (yes then, I believed in a God who would prevent this from happening to families like us – how naiive).  All of our beliefs, all our philosophies had already been obliterated. Thus, strangely, I mainly found 9/11 to be a endorsement of that sentiment.

I still cannot get over the fact that my nephew is gone, and time when it cannot heal, simply builds walls or protective layers around the wound. So this time, as I was watching the mumbai massacre, I felt the anger and outrage of the event itself – the anger and outrage that I should  have had on 9/11. The anger and outrage so many people felt that day. The pain an entire nation and the (civilized) world felt that day. So this does feel like my 9/11.

I am now confused how this war can be won. I dont think it can be in the sense that terrorism can be rooted out fully that there wont be terror attacks that harm innocent civilians after that. There will always be some people who are disgruntled no matter what, and disgruntled minds will find some thing to latch on and build up anger which eventually vents out in acts of varying degrees of violence aimed at “everyone else”.

So given that it cannot be rooted out, the only way is to find means to temper it “as much as possible”. How Force is the more popular sentiment – but can it work? I don’t know – but it definitely would satisfy the anger and outrage we feel and so even if it doesn’t work efficiently, it feels good to crush at least part of the enemy. I think this is a big part of why it seems attractive to most folks. Now, both US and Israel have tried force – Israel for much longer than any country. I think it has not stopped the attacks in Israel, and they have to be on high alert pretty much forever or atleast till they think they have destroyed all their enemies – which IMO is not going to happen as it is like rooting out terrorism completely. US has been more effective as in no attacks on US soil after 9/11, but I wonder if the reason could be that they have provided easier US targets (as in body count) in Iraq itself.  The geographical separation also helps. For countries like India, the geography is not as favorable. On top of that, many of the terrorists can also blend in easily (and also some are homegrown).

I used to think that fixing the “root cause” – however painful it is to egos of countries and peoples, can produce the biggest tempering of the terrorist problem. I used to think terrorist groups’  thrive because they can brainwash and recruit youth – and they also get sympathy and financing from supporters. While groups themselves have ideological agendas (e.g. Lashkar-e-Toiba aims to convert India to an islamic state), the sympathesizers may have smaller ones e.g. like India’s role in Kashmir. Using that smaller gripe, the brainwashing begins by pointing out how this is symptomatic of a bigger problem i.e. how Hindus, Jews and the Christians are out to screw the people of Islam etc. etc.   But if the smaller gripes are removed, wouldn’t the brainwashing not be effective? Wouldn’t the terrorist groups lose support and financing?  Would’nt they starve? I used to argue along these lines. I still believe in it – but somewhat half-heartedly. While it does have logic to it, I now think that this may be too simplistic. I don’t think groups need  to brainwash lots of of “common folk” for their agenda – while support from common folk helps them, it may not be as mandatory as I had thought. They just need to brainwash a few thousand of the right kind of people (people with money, and youth to supply bodycount) – and this can happen even on just the ideological agenda.  The ideological agenda brainwashing has the power of corrupting minds across regional boundaries. So this is sobering and thus I am dazed and confused.

But still, if there is a significant % of Indian muslim populace which feels it is getting a raw deal, then their voices must be heard – by the others. India needs to do what is necessary to fix this – which could be  corrective measures on the par of the muslim community as well as government (and other communities), as well as educating people out of “reverse prejudices”. One important example of a corrective measure is to demonstrate that the Indian government is serious about tackling human rights violations by Indian troops in Kashmir.

I find western coverage of India buy into this “muslims in India are most oppressed” often (along with almost always equating India to Hindu). I am not 100% sure, IMO this is  misleading. There are many muslims at all levels – high-positioned politicians, celebrities in sports and movies, top professionals, as well as middle class professionals. Percentage-wise it is certainly possible this is disproportionate, and that is what may be really implied, but to phrase it such that it implies that the system is inherently skewed against them – I am not so sure. I am not saying prejudice does not exist, I am just saying that it can be overcome and there are many many examples of this in Indian society. I am not also saying because of that, whatever prejudice exists is ok – just that it may not warrant the conclusions drawn, and of course certainly never warrants taking up arms. But then I think we should listen more to the muslim community itself and work with them.

For the current problem at hand, some random beefs:

  • Pakistan: I read in the news that Pak needs “proof” about L-e-T before going after them?  WTF? Come again? If you think L-e-T is in your country, and you are out their saying “we are in this together”, then you should have already gone after them before  this attack, or you are simply grandstanding. Who you crapping?  You still like to believe L-e-T (or its offshoots) is not a terrorist outfit? And you also say you are serious about terror? You think we are idiots?
    • I think if Pak can demonstrate real seriousness (beyond wordS) in permanently dismantling units there, this would be best move out of this. Now I  can believe that the civilian government does not have full control over all parts of government, and also that the government does not have entire control of its territory. However, these two problems are causing huge, catastrophic effects outside Pak. This is not a Pak internal issue – it is an international issue of the gravest kind. If Pak is unwilling or unable to fix it, it can’t simply wring its hands  (“these are non-state actors”). It also cannot bristle if the others who are being affected want to take care of the problem. It is best to take as much help as needed to fix this problem for itself and for others. I know this puts the government between a rock and a hard place (as any move against the fundamentalist particularly with outside help is political as well as literal suicide in Pak), but who is to blame for that? It is time for reckoning for Pak.
  • Indian Politicians: In US after 9/11, all politicians, democrats and republicans stood together and put their country first. They all had one vision at the time in need. Later on of course they squabbled but at that moment they knew what was important. In India, our a**holes still don’t get it! Advani wants to campaign rather than attend an all party meeting called by his Prime Minister after a major terrorist event!! Campaign can wait for a day – you moron! And Thackeray wants to congratulate Maharashtra police? The bane of India is the lack of unity within. It screwed her during British times, and it would screw her now also if we don’t realize it.
  • Internal Security in India: I also think India really needs to beef up internal security – this would be painful and expensive, but it is most certainly needed. It has to go to the same level as US, Israel etc. We can try to fix root cause etc. – but that is slow and takes a long time to gather momentum. In the meantime, we need to protect ourselves.
    • Get top of the line equipment, get top of the line training (if not already been done) – from wherever it is available. Don’t let vanity (i.e. We are India, we dont need help!) compromise quality in this case.
    • I cannot believe they do not have commando units in Mumbai (and all major cities). I guess that is being fixed. I think local police must also have commando units  that trains with NSG etc.
    • I also cannot believe they did not clear the entire neighbourhood around the Nariman House during the operation. The whole freaking thing was on world-wide television – for others to comment and critique about an extremely sensitive and dangerous national security situation? Yikes!
    • In fact even at Taj, the reporters were allowed too close. I would think in US, cameras would simply not be allowed within atleast a mile in such cases – that would have been standard operating procedure
    • Too many loose lips talking to media. Have one (hopefully sane 🙂 ) voice – otherwise this all affects the credibility of your government. But on the otherhand, the many lips also exposes inefficiencies as well as hanky-pankiness which is good.
      • BTW, why are commandos of the most elite groups even giving interviews? Very nice to hear but also very disturbing. Shouldn’t these guys be as underground as possible?

Today, is truly a new day.

Today, America is awake.

Today, America has wiped a stain.

Today, the light at the end of that tunnel is no longer a dream.

Today, that light is real, and it shines in America.

Today, there is a new dawn in America.

I am not a citizen of America, but I live here. Echoing what someone close to me said, I am proud to be an American today even though I am not a US citizen. It was indeed so special, so overwhelming to watch the US election results, and the ensuing celebrations of thousands of people of all ages, colors and races – particularly the clouded eyes and tears of joy in so many African Americans. Even though I was physically not there in the midst of it all, and this was all on TV, I could sense the gravity of the historic moment. I also take strange pride in the fact that the epicenter of the celebration was in the city I live in. I wish I was there in Grant Park yesterday and soaked in the good vibes up-close and personal. But I shared it with my wife – and isn’t that the best way to share an historic day?

As Obama himself said, he won’t be perfect, and I am sure that America will not set everything it wants to set right today, tomorrow, or even in four years. I just hope that in four years, we can say that he moved America palpably in the right direction – the direction that so many people are longing for. He would be a successful president just for doing that. In fact, even if he turns out to be a less than spectacular President, this still is a huge step for America. People did not want to deal with the issue of race in society, and in this election too much prior to today, but there is no question that it is huge. It is a very persistent, thorny cancer that continually pricks at the society’s conscience. Although this cancer has been steadily pruned over the decades by the progress African Americans have made in society, it still definitely hurts the society. Even after today, the cancer remains, and it would still hurt, but definitely less. More importantly, after today, many people may truly believe that this cancer could be gotten rid of.

The step that US took yesterday in electing a  black leader was a mandatory step that it just had to take. The de facto belief amongst most folks prior to yesterday was “This country is just not ready to elect a black president. I don’t know when it will be ready – probably not in my lifetime”. Today, that belief has been proven as dead wrong! And its decimation was done by one man in a span of just 5 years in national politics! I just cannot get over that fact – just incredible! Yes, the political climate helped him a lot, but so did his charisma, his clarity of thought and expression. US did not elect him just because he is African American. However, at the same time, it is very well aware that he is African American, which definitely was a factor (reflected in the polls as well).  In the end, he is an extremely charismatic, inspirational, intelligent, African American.  I for one, think that he is the right man in US today for all those reasons.

Everywhere I turn today, there is talk of joy, motion, and pride in the step that America has taken. It is easy to ignore that there are millions of people who did not vote for Obama – a significant % of the populace (almost half).  I wonder about them. How many of them are angry, and repulsed by the nature of the celebrations of the “other half of the country”?  I know there will be many such people  (one cannot make everyone happy), but I hope there will be a lot more people who are happy that America matured yesterday, and for that sake are willing to give this man an honest chance. I hope they realize why America had to take this step.

Note however that just taking this step does not guarantee greatness, peace and prosperity as many other nations have taken similar steps long ago (although the case of African Americans in US society is quite unique, and if one looks at it close enough, one can begin the understand the streaming tears we saw yesterday). However, without this step, secure comfort about a nation’s social and moral compass would either be not possible, or would only signal ignorance.  In fact, even after this step, there is at least one more as equally important step – a woman president (which also has already been done by many nations). I am confident, this next step, will also happen in my lifetime.

Ok, a controversial post and one that also reveals my political inclinations although that was made somewhat obvious in my rant long ago (at least Babu saw through that 🙂 ).  This post may not be to your liking depending on your political inclinations, but I just found the connection mentioned below too enticing! But in case this gets your blood boiling, be assured that the connection below could potentially be adapted to a different version that can make you smile too 😉 !

There is a song by Pink Floyd in their Animals album called Pigs (Three Different Ones). It is an awesome song which really should have been mentioned as one of my favorites in my earlier post on the Floyd.

The Animals album’s main concept is to portray different sections of society as animals:

  • Pigs, who are the (scheming, sleazy)  people who influence/control society/system – i.e. typically politicians
  • Dogs, who are the enforces of the schemes of the Pigs
  • Sheep, who are the common folk at the low end at the order and thus helplessly manipulated by the other two.

The song Pigs (Three Different Ones) is an angry, menacing outburst at Pigs. It is in three stanzas, each talking about a (different) pig, a certain politically/socially influential person. A couple of stanzas actually refers to specific people in England (see here).

But I think with a little modification, this song fits three people who have been prominent in the US political spectrum in the last decade or so:

Karl Rove
(Initially thought of Donald Rumsfeld but the lyrics maybe fit Rove better? Or may be I could have picked Rush Limbaugh?)

Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are
You well heeled big wheel, ha ha, charade you are
And when your hand is on your heart
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost a joker
With your head down in the pig bin
Saying “keep on digging”
Pig stain on your fat chin
What do you hope to find?
When you’re down in the pig mine
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry.

Dick Cheney
(fits him like a glove – except for the hat pin part)

Bus stop rat bag, ha ha, charade you are
You f****d up old hag bag, ha ha, charade you are
You radiate cold shafts of broken glass
You’re nearly a good laugh
Almost worth a quick grin
You like the feel of steel
You’re hot stuff with a hat pin
And good fun with a handshot gun
You’re nearly a laugh
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry.

George Bush
Hey you Whitehouse, ha ha, charade you are
You house proud town mouse, ha ha, charade you are
You’re trying to keep our feelings off the street
You’re nearly a real treat
All tight lips and cold feet
And do you feel abused?
You gotta stem the evil tide
And keep it all on the inside
MaryDubya you’re nearly a treat
MaryDubya you’re nearly a treat
But you’re really a cry.

Although very raw and menacing (certainly dicey in the current political climate), the correlation is still interesting isn’t it 🙂 ? I though the second stanza with “Radiates cold shafts of broken glass”, and “Hot stuff with a handgun” was just too good as-is in the orignal. Same with Whitehouse and “house-proud town mouse” – to be funny.

Now, if you are on the other end of the spectrum,  am sure, if you think hard enough, you could come up with three liberals/democrats to fit you needs too 🙂 !

Oh btw, you can catch the (original) song itself here. Even if you don’t enjoy the correlation, enjoy the song!

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