Sunday, July 17, 2011

BJP's travails affecting India

At my Grandpa's (called him Ajja) home in Mangalore, following Vinod Dua/Prannoy Roy all night long on Doordarshan and deciphering trends of the 1996 elections was a new beginning.Ajja was there by my side helping me make sense of the numbers and an-almost teenager nodded. Ajja was a very RSS oriented thinker and adored/respected Vajpayee. My tryst with Indian politics started with this Vajpayee "victory".

Due to his oratory skills, I was mesmerized by Atalji at the outset. In 1998, I visited Nehru Maidan to hear him speak.The pauses were unapologetically long but the material was crystal clear. He was my Prime Minister. He was my leader for the forseeable future.The rise of the BJP from 2 seats in 1984 to a 13-day-honeymoon in 1996 was heartening. It explained the significance of our great democracy.

Cut to present day India. When I hear about bomb blasts most of these days, my heart cries. As I am sure does yours. Anger is omnipresent, but it cannot soothe the hurt. I belong to a group of people who are branded "U are an NRI, u donno the ground reality so shut up". That is a myth. It is about where your heart is eventually.

When I noticed this flood of outcry on all the social networking sites, it felt as a good beginning. Most of us have a tendency to not care a damn about any event as long as it doesn't involve us. Blasts in Zaveri Bazaar today can be a blast in your area tomorrow. Only those who lost loved ones in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks know the real hurt and pain. Ask Sandeep Unnikrishnan's father and he will have a tale to tell.

In some of my conversations with well read Indians these past weeks, we agree that in India a bomb blast can happen anytime. The almost cynical and apathetic nature of educated Indians like us is difficult to fathom at the start, but not far from ground reality. For starters, are there metal detectors in malls in Bangalore or Delhi? Still better, do they work? We all know that United States has been a model example in curbing these activities post 9/11. Agreed there are eclectic means of cornering India's borders and that the humongous populace makes things almost unmanageable, but it is better to try and fail.

In the US, security folks are highly respected. If someone frisks me at Atlanta airport, I shut my trap and let him do his job. In India, we feel that the Nepali security guard is there to warm his stool/chair and feel offended and bad mouth him when he stops our car outside a plush apartment complex.

The best solution is to first acknowledge we have a problem. What is our intelligence doing? Is that word a misnomer or what? Rahul Gandhi recently said "We have averted 99% of attacks, it is not possible to avert all". This, coming from someone who tomorrow might be my Prime Minister is worrying. (My bias against the Gandhi scion and his "great" dynasty should make you look at this with a pinch of salt!). Are you telling me 99% of the attacks are averted right now? Yeah right! To make it worse, Mumbai Police were clueless for a day or two about the suspected organization responsible for 13/7.

Importantly, connecting back to my earlier BJP talk, the lack of an effective opposition at the Center is hurting India. The BJP is a shadow of the party it was in the late 90s and has ceased to be a "watchdog" the opposition should be. Vajpayee's age/health, Mahajan's death, Swaraj's constant bickerings with Jaitley, Rajnath's presidency, Advani's Jinnahisms have hit the party below the belt and right now it seems like a knock out punch with no new leaders in the horizon and no "Prime Minister material" in sight.

I am not here to provide solutions, highlighting and reporting problems is a citizen's responsibility. Look at what Nitish Kumar has done to Bihar and Narendra Modi to Gujarat. At the end of the day, your work speaks not your mouth.
Sealing your borders, governing your country as you are supposed to and trying to get your house in order before pointing a finger at others are very achievable by India. The insider help in these attacks is what concerns me the most. Selling your motherland, even to overcome poverty, is an offence like none other. Keeping Kasab hale and healthy for the past 3 years is unpardonable. I am told he is being given a fair trial. Fair trial for what? What about the clemency petitions against Afzal Guru (him of the 2001 Parliament attacks). The Central Government just doesn't want to be the party that tightened the noose and is passing the buck to short change the public.

I just pray these attacks don't happen any longer and our system becomes more vigilant. I know it is wishful thinking, but then many prayers are. It can start by both the BJP/Congress grooming a few youth leaders and booting out scions and dynasties from our sight. It can also start by our intelligence doing some justice to that word.