Paradox Paradise

Would you still call it nonsense, if sense exchanges its meaning with nonsense?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sounds that were heard after the blasts

There has been a lot of noise between the short commercial breaks. I hope, the prime time rates would fall back after a couple days, and I will get to see celebrities partying and kissing as nothing has happened. Commercial news services have got more resilience than that they were tattooing on the affected society, which has no other option.

The sounds of explosive blame games are already dying down. The investigating agencies will come up with a few names soon. Then we can forget about the whole affair, till something else of similar nature happens in some place other than J&K. During the past few days we heard how bad is our internal security system, and how unsafe is our country to live in. Journalists from one News Channel carried fake bombs and hidden cameras into Delhi Metro service with its now beefed up security. It can be called alarming, as there is no feasible way to ensure security from the kind of attacks that happened in Mumbai.

Experts, especially the retired officials of our armed forces and intelligence agencies, are of the opinion that there should be stern action against the terror makers. Some wants to declare war against Pakistan, who is the root cause. The only available template for national security is that of the United States of Absurdities. One journalist even called up a Pakistani Minister to ask whether they would allow us to raid their slums too as an act of cooperation to eliminate terrorism. Suggestions were there to make the search operations more intensive, without worrying much on the inconvenience that could bring to thousands. All these were promptly approved by loud applauses from the invited crowd in the studio. They are people, who go to movie houses and travel by trains, hoping to get back home. But they don’t expect a knock on their doors after midnight to be thrown out for the good of the cause. And I feel uncomfortably numb to switch the channel.

Men, and women, in uniform around the world can be generalised almost accurately. This is because they are all trained with the same mission. The only difference between one group of them and another is their skill and the technology available to them. Apart from that they are more or less the same. The defence forces are trained to fight defence forces of another country. And the police are trained to combat criminals. Terrorists, unfortunately for these forces, don’t fall under any of the things they are taught to fight with. And that is what keeps terrorism alive, and what kills more civilians.

Terrorists are not like criminals. They are not like organised criminal outfits, like the mafia. They are not even like the hired mobs political parties bring to the road. A terrorist’s conscience is as clear as it is of a soldier. No good soldier is supposed to feel bad after a successful bombing mission. Neither does a bad terrorist, though he never gets to live or die like a soldier. But then, terrorism is not a career.

Extremism, in all its incarnations, is married to ideology of one kind or other. And what it brings up is of no huge difference. In one place it destroys ancient Buddha statues; a few hundred miles away, it demolishes an ancient Mosque. The terrorism the world has to deal with today is very different from IRA, KLF or LTTE. It has long stopped being a J&K issue for us, and Palestine for the rest of the world. The ideology that drives this particular brand of terrorism has nothing much to do with any geo-political identity. It is just about extremist retaliation to another extremist attack.

The ’93 blasts in Mumbai were provoked by the riots there, which were provoked by the Masjid demolition. The recent one is arguably provoked by the Gujarat riots. And the ways we use to fight these, in effect, are fanning the fire. The human right violations, which are considered inevitable during the operations by state forces around the world, are virile enough to give birth to more mercenaries. We have made it a fight of one wrong against another. That, by any definition, is not a right thing. Once the nations of the world are tired of mindless muscle bulging, probably they can start thinking. I expect a solution only after that day.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Another struggle to keep the faith

When the news broke out, it failed to generate any curiosity in non-believers like me. But after our newspapers and news channels, comfortable with the huge burden of social responsibility on their shoulders, dedicated expensive front-page space and prime airtime (with a panel of eminent personalities discussing the subject before, after and in-between short commercial breaks) for over a week, me too gave it my first thought. The news, which is not news anymore, is about the holy temple of Sabarimala in southern Kerala.

First came the astrologer. Then came the stars. It is an accepted practice to trust the astrologer about what the stars say. Hell broke lose as one star fax messaged an approval note of what the astrologer had already predicted. This tech-savvy star confessed about falling into the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, and touching the feet of the deity. Then rose another star with a similar claim. According to the latter (and a few million other mortals, who have been to the temple), it is impossible to reach the feet of the deity by just falling down. And once the stars started talking about it to people less divine than an astrologer, it was sure a bad omen.

Now, the faithful feminists want the authorities to redefine the custom pertaining to the temple before the same is done to the country’s defence services. Minister for temple affairs in the LDF (a coalition of CPM, CPI and few other left wing parties) government gets emotional on camera and vows to keep the traditions and to fight against any progressive movement. An association of atheists decides to stage protests against the temple’s non-progressive attitude and clean the temple of its outdated traditions during next pilgrimage season. For the benefit of believers, of course. Meanwhile, the temple authorities have started an expensive purification ritual that would take another two years to complete for reinstating the power damaged by the star. I think there should be an immediate Lakshmi Pooja too. The weakened deity has now the power to weaken the revenues of the temple and every major temple on the pilgrimage route. At least, for the next couple of years.

Quite surprisingly, no one seems to be worried about what I care about. All I now hope for is the prasadam from the temple to remain as sweet and tasty as it was all those years, and my friends to keep the faith to do the pilgrimage. There would be moments in life even for non-believers, I am told many times, to have no other option but call the Almighty for help. I guess, now there would be one less moment for me in store. Ayyappa Saranam!

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