Sunday, October 30, 2005

Shocking Indifference

I was browsing PG and a few orkut communities yesterday in the hours following the Delhi Bomb Blast. And was taken aback by the indifference and triviality of the discussion surrounding these blasts. A typical conversation ran like this -

A: Hey. Heard of the blasts in the capital?
B: Ya. I happened to be in the same place exactly a week back.
A: Oh yeah? Bunch of morons behind it, i suppose.

And then the conversation invariably veers towards inanities like the weather, Diwali, cricket et al.It's almost as though we are making a conscious effort to blind ourselves to the reality.Even if someone does comment on the issue with some seriousness, it is with an air of detachment and helplessness. Common diatribes generally include criticism of the government's revocation of POTA, nasty comments on minority appeasement, possibility of a foreign hand among others.
Most of these hackneyed analyses are superficial at best. They do not really probe deep into the causes of terror.

The most disconcerting thing is the obdurate unwillingness on our part to address the issues involved in terrorism head-on. Had that not been the case, we would, by now, have found answers to the following questions -

Who are these terrorists?
What are they aggrieved about?
Why do they almost invariably hail from a particular community?
Why does this community suffer from a deep-seated sense of victimhood?
What's the role played by their faith in shaping these deleterious ideologies?

There can be NO meaningful discussion on Terrorism which does not attempt to answer each one of these questions.

Some of these queries are taboos in public forums owing to their political incorrectness. But yet, it is very important that we ask them. The sad thing is that nobody seems to be asking them.
A typical response that one gets upon asking these questions is -

Hey. What's the point in asking them. Think of solutions. This is a law-and-order problem, not a religious one.

This is sheer escapism. We are dealing with individuals who don't fear death, leave alone being apprehended. You can't have cops in every nook and cranny of a huge metropolis, can you?
Moreover, these queries are by no means counter-intuitive and prejudiced as many would suppose. Even if a group of Martians were to pay a visit to Earth, they would most definitely ask the same questions upon reading the newspapers!
It is indeed a misfortune that the public discourse on terrorism in our country is bereft of nuances. Those who seek answers to the stated questions are branded as communalists, right-wing nutcases, majoritarians, fascists and what not.
For fear of being labelled thus, a number of well-intentioned thinkers remain aloof from such polemics. As a result, we are not able to define the problem of terror that we are faced with. Without having understood the problem, there is no way we can embark upon finding a solution.

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