So the nauseating and frustrating Mumbai experience, which left many of us feeling impotent with rage and anguish of not being able to anything is finally over. Finally something has happened which has actually made people angry and come out on the streets demanding structural changes in the way this country is governed. Even though the numbers may have been a wee bit too little for anybody to stand-up and take notice.
I was also extremely angry to begin with therefore I have not written anything for some time. I have allowed it to subside before actually putting my hand to the keyboard.
Indians are by and large very peaceful people and the resilience of Mumbai actually stems from the resilience of Indians in general, who are probably one of the most flexible people anywhere in the world , being able to put up with almost anything and continue with the business of life. It took our royals nearly 100 years to realise that the rug is being pulled from under their bottoms before they could put up a rag-tag coalition for 1857 revolt. It took the general population another 60 years to start doing anything about the humiliation and degradation they were being subjected to. After starting the process it took us another patient 40 years before we could hoist our own national flag and have our ‘tryst with the destiny’. This ability of ours to take shit and still be able to get up, dust up a bit and get along with the grind of daily life is sometimes mistakenly portrayed in the media as being resilience. This our ability to compromise and weasel through a situation without having to make difficult choices, which puts our life and limb at a risk for another day has helped us being very successfull in business field, which is dominated by people who exploit such situations.
At the time of independence the architects of our democracy made a big mistake by not jettisonning the british systems with them. So the police force with its ethos of subjugating and keeping the masses under control was retained and continues in its same role even to this day. Otherwise, where do you see in a democratric country police openeing fire to kill its own people with the impunity that it does here. The Indian Civil Service , whose sole aim was to fill the coffers for the british, was also retained and continues to dominate the country having resisted all attempts at specialisation and having subjugated all other government services.
The british system of indirect democracy works in their country, which is very small and is guided by very well entrenched value systems and traditions, whereas Indians with their tendency to compromise, take shit and cut corners could never be relied on to faithfully implement such a complicated system.
The system under the ‘leadership’ of Nehru quickly degenerated into personal fiefdoms and family hierlooms. With Nehru himself taking lead of ensuring that the power stayed in the family, by entrusting the reins of power into the hands of his daughter. Other more principled leaders like Sardar Patel and Shastri who were naive enough, allowed everything to happen right under their noses.
ICS meanwhile went around systematically denigrating one force that has stood by the country at all times, under the Nehru, who was deeply afraid of the Military, pushed the Army Chief out of the Teen Murti Bhavan and made him equivalent to the cabinet secretary, from his earlier exalted position of being second only to the prime minister. Not to speak of stripping the Military from all positions of decision making related to security and the running of the establishment itself, these days the generals are not even on the panel to advice the prime minister on security related matters. Compared to USA where the National Security Advisor is going to be a retired Marine general, we have a career Police officer on extension. The generals themselves were bought by the political establishment by the lure of gubernatorial and diplomatic assignments post retirement and have casually allowed the powers to slip from their hands so that now they are reduced to a status of beggars and have to go with a bowl through the IAS establishments to get their meagre salary hikes. On the operational front they have been reduced to a level of foot soldiers, who press the trigger when they are ordered to with no role in deciding on the security posture of the country.
The political establishment and the bureucrats have resisted all efforts by the supreme court to reorganise the police and make it a more speacialised and apolitical force. We have more agencies dedicated to gathering intelligence than any other country but with none of them having given clear roles, all of them keep fighting little turf wars, which results in confusing signals and lack of any accountability by anybody. Many of them are actively engaged in clandestine spying work on political enemies on the directions of their political bosses. So while the general population gets to face the bullet, the brokers of power use meagre intelligence resources to settle scores. ( Refer MK Dhar’s Book, Open Secret)
And mind you the bureaucrats and the police officers are supposedly one of the best that the country has to offer. They come through a very stringent even though outdated selection procedure, which ensures that only the best are able to make it through. Though most succumb to systematic rot that has set in and are overwhelmed by the daunting task of overhauling the system and making any structural/ systemic changes. Most prefer to go along with the tide and make hay with the politicians, while the sun shines.
The end result of systemtatic rape of this country was starkly visible through the 5 days of trauma caused by a bunch of hoodlums from Pakistan. The political bosses have consolidated their powers in increasingly narrow consituencies so that you see first families in almost all states. Not to speak of the first among the first families the Gandhi family. The whole set-up is even better than Monarchy or Dictatorship, which appears to be what it is. This comes complete with a very large fig leaf of ‘democracy’.
So much so that president of the Congress party now carries almost an Extra-constitutional authority, with even the prime minister and all congress chief ministers taking directions from her. Maharashatra chief minister offerred to resign to the party chief and not to the prime minister, which means that he, a people’s representative is reporting directly to an unelected authority. What can be a bigger slap in the face of democracy, which MK Gandhi was hoodwinked into supporting.
The rot can be assessed immediately by the way politicians confronted with the enormity of the challenge started shooting of their mouths. Maharashtra home minister called it an attack on Maharashtra. He conveniently forgot to mention that many non-marathis came to defend ‘Maharashtra’ in those gruelling days.
The lack of preparedness and lack of flow of information can be assessed by the live television reporting. When enormous amount of CC TV footage of terrorrists was available, and anybody could make out that they were prepared for a long haul resistance. Not to undermine the sacrifce of ATS chief Mr Karkare, it is hardly a role of a chief of a unit to go on a recce mission and get shot casually. Somebody may call it leadership, I’ll call it lack of preparedness, foresight and standard operating procedure under these circumstances. Didnt anybody clarify whether ATS is supposed to investigate the terrorists or actually take part in shooting wars with them. This lack of clarity of purpose plagues almost all agencies.
The much vaunted NSG came in with their modern weaponary, but also could not do much for next gew days due to lack of basic information such as floor layouts, exits and a painfull lack of night vision devices and gas masks, which would have enabled them to finish the job much earlier. Any modern Special Force does not go out without night vision devices, which is standard issue for ordinary American soldiers. Americans as a philosophy dont go out to fight on an equal footing, they go out to overwhelm the enemy. Our political leadership, throws under-equipped men at unknown threats and later goes out to malign thier deaths. ( VS Achuthanandan & earlier Amar Singh). The proposal for night vision devices no doubt would be hanging fire in some echelons of bureucracy.
Through out the drama, and even post events, the media is unusually obsessed with security at 5 star hotels and hardly a sliver is being shown of what is being done to increase the security of VT station, where many innocent and poor people have perished. The media in their zeal to be the first to report any development actually went ahead and compromised the operation with their obtrusive presense and giving live pictures to the handlers in Pakistan. The security establishment also did not cordon off the area, and everybody could be seen doing their own thing without any coordination.
When I was a kid, punjab was on a boil and terrorrists used to regularly attack targets of high value. During those days I used to wonder and thank god that nobody is enemy of the general public till now, otherwise there will be nobody protect the us. All my nightmares seem to be coming true.
With such systemic rot, it will some time before the killing will stop, as Pakistanis are prepared and motivated to ‘bleed India through a thousand cuts’, to quote Bhutto or some other dictator that they have had. With our short sighted foreign policy, none of our neighbours can be called as true freinds of ours. Even the country which, we have fought to liberate is our arch enemy and keeps shooting across the borders at BSF, and is involved in turmoil in Assam.
Is there hope? I would love to think that there is, but I dont think so. As an ordinary Indians, we can die suddenly anywhere, anytime. If not to some brazen Pakistani, then on the hideous roads, in police firing, under shoddilly constructed buildings, due to food poisoning and hundreds of other reasons.
It is not a surprise that even though we have one of the biggest list of millionaires, we remain one of the poorest contries on the planet, with life expectancy and literacy levels comparing with some sub-saharan countries. These are the things, which the media, which is conveniently hands-in-glove with the political establishment forgets to highlight. They had no compulsions in shouting occassionaly about the ‘systemic’ problems facing our country. but none have carried a sustained campaign aganist the rot, ‘political monarchy’,corrupt civil services and politicians. The media and intelligensia some days ago was actually out on the limb praising one of the most vicious and corrupt Politicians, Lalu Yadav as saviour of Railways.
Time has come for a 2nd freedom struggle. The british have left but have left behind a system and a plethora of leeches, who look like us but are differrent. They feed on our blood and their hunger knows no bounds. They need to be pulled out and crushed.