Empty Gestures

Terror attack on Mumbai - 26th - 29th November 2008


Wow !
What a shock the terrorists gave everyone when they held Mumbai for 3 days by its short and curlies.

Everyone who was anyone has commented on it, publicly or privately.  Most people and institutions condemned the callous act of the brazen young men who mowed down people with such heartlessness.  Media, public, (of-course) politicians and every man and his dog shed copious tears on the subject.  Islamic institutions in India have even suggested that muslims should wear a black ribbon to sympathise with the families of the dead.

Wow !
Yet sadly, all these gestures are empty !!

Who will care to change anything beyond next week ?
Will the government of USA, (god forbid) Pakistan, UK or any other country do anything concrete about this ?
Forget others, will the government of India do anything about this ?
Will the security forces do anything different next time to try and prevent this ?
Will the media do anything to help in this noble cause ?
Will the Islamic institutions in India do anything to fix the root cause of this ?
Will the people of India do anything ?
Forget everyone, what will WE do about this ?



Empty gestures of the Politically Correct !

Its easy to condemn the cowardly act of the fools who claim to “fight” in the name of some perceived injustices, without having the courage to take on the army and so they turn their gun on the unarmed civilians.  How can this be jihad ?  Killing unarmed, innocent civilians is in no way a “war” – holy or otherwise.

Lets call spade a spade and call it terrorist activity.  As its inspired by verses in the Koran, lets also call it what it is – Islamic terrorism.  Why are we so afraid to acknowledge it for what it is ? 


Ah, but that’s where our “empty gestures” come in.  We are so politically correct, we can’t acknowledge the obvious for fear of  
* “offending” the Muslim sensibilities. 
* Terrorists don’t care about killing in the name of Islam ; 
* Immams don’t care about providing excuses for these miscreants ;
* Politicians don’t care about providing legitimacy for the causes of these “misguided youths” ;
* Media doesn’t care to question the obvious about “why is islam at the root of recent wave of global terror” ;


So why do we, “the people”, care so much about it ?  Aren’t our empty gestures of upset and shock just feeding the terrorist frenzy even further ?

Empty gestures of the Governments !

Government doesn’t care – local, national or international. 
Politicians sing the same old songs, give the same rhetoric, yet, nothing ever changes.  All of them, without exception, use the same excuse about “due process of law” and “parliamentary procedure” to try and bring in some change at glacial pace.  For the seasoned politicians, if the vote bank politics gets in the way, so much the better for explaining zero activity over their tenure as “our leaders”.  Politicians of all hues only care about winning elections.  They can rarely see beyond their five year plans.

Even the local government, who should care and be more aligned to the wishes of the local populence, cares only to get in power and fill the government posts with its own supporters and line their pockets with graft.  Despite the budget worth billions, roads and public amenities such as water and waste disposal remain dismal.  The crumbling infrastructure of our villages, towns, cities and its suburbs is an acute embarrassment.  This is not through lack of money, but lack of “will” by the governments.  No thought is given to improving the daily lives of the people, so it is no wonder that there are no effective plans for emergencies like the recent bombings.

International governments are just as bad.  They only care of their own nationals – read voting citizens – are involved.  Indians have been dieing in droves due to terrorism, but, no one pays more than lip service to their plight.  However, if a couple of EU citizens or Americans die, as they did this November, the western governments suddenly send their envoys to visit us over-night.  These same governments provide moral support for terrorists by often letting them operate from their territory.  Indeed, London-istan is a well known headquarters for a number of international terror organisations that are allowed to function there under their protection of “freedom of speech”.  They forget, at their own peril, that these terrorists have little love for UK or its democratic values.

Our security personal are equally to blame for these empty gestures.  Despite all the time, effort and money spent on them, they have allowed political expediencies to cloud their judgement.  Countless lives are put in danger by their repeated lapses.  Following the political ideology of the rulers of the day, they run with false leads provided by their political masters, wasting unimaginable amount of resources.

Our police are no better.  Like the keystone-cops of earlier comedies, they always seem to arrive two minutes too late.  Their ineptitude is well known to all.  Apart from harassing the citizens on minor misdemeanours, they seem to have very little success at enforcing any semblance of law and order.  Even during this latest terror attack, the police proved themselves to be ineffective and incapable of containing the terrorists.

Empty gestures of the media !

International media is biased and its empty gestures of sorrow are the most hollow.  Millions of blacks and browns can die with impunity, but the “world media” suddenly takes notice if a few fair skinned people die.  The only reason this particular terror attack got so much news coverage is because it involved foreigners trapped and killed in hotels that were popular with the foreigners.  The Mumbai train blasts in 2006 came on page 5 of a London daily because it killed only the brown skinned commuters of Mumbai.  After the November 2008 incidence, the same news paper ran stories on front cover even four days after the incidence, as some Isralie Jews were still trapped in Narimine House and some of the bomber were suspected of having British passports.

Local and national media in India are generally pathetic at best.  During such emergencies, they become worse !  Their constant commentaries, expounding half baked ideas and pseudo theories, passing on half truths as “scoop of the hour” is worse than buzzing of hornets in a box.  More often than not, they are a security risk, often relaying "live" the exact position and activities of the security forces through their 24x7 channels.  Terrorists could not get better logistical support from them if they tried !  More often than not, media hinders progress of any investigation by their constant buzzing with repeat showing of same old news and recycling same old theories – right or wrong.

More often than not, the media is guilty for apologising for the terrorists.  They constantly offer the same old excuses for these outbursts - Palestine,  Gujarat riots, Babri Masjid, illiteracy, bad job prospects  etc.  None of these are valid reasons for violence !  If they were, the Kashmir Pandits and Tibetans would have “just cause” to kill too.  Besides, they forget, Gujarat riots were a response to a terror attack on a train full of sleeping families.  They forget thousands of temples that have been destroyed in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the wake of Babri riots.  They forget, Palestine attacked Israel and lost the war.  They also forget that none of the terrorists are illiterate fools, they are well educated individuals who have been thoroughly trained in terror and you can’t train them unless they are intelligent to start with.  Also, the illiteracy of the Islamic community worldwide is not due to lack of education but due to madraass style education which keeps them firmly rooted in medieval lore and does not allow them to integrate with the modern world.  This also than leads to bad job prospects, but than who is to blame for that ?  Parents who choose this style of education or the government / society at large ?  By making excuses for these terrorists, and by constantly repeating these at every screening of the same news, the media is doing a fantastic PR job for the terrorists.

The media is biased against the Hindus and keeps berating them despite the fact that Hindus are the victims of this violence.  If a Hindu ever fights back, he is reminded of Gandhian ideals of peace and non-violence and told to sit down and accept his lot in life.  Any attempt at self defence is immediately labelled as right wing, nationalist and fascist !  India is one of those rare countries where being a nationalist is a reason to be ashamed !  Our convent educated, pseudo secular media is responsible for this sad state of affairs.

Yet, no one is allowed to challenge them on their bad record.  Anyone who dares is given a public dressing down in such a manner, their reputation and credibility suffers for a long time to come.  The media is king and controls who gets to say what.  They do what they can to catch the public mood and than manipulate it to make the public think what they – the media – want them to think.  It’s a horrible way to manipulate the masses.

Empty gestures by the Islamic institutions of India !

They have recently told people to celebrate Eid without slaughtering the cow or wear a black ribbon – very nice of them to do this, but, these are empty gestures all the same.  After Eid, will they allow muslims to continue to slaughter cows ?  Hindus are not blind, most of us can see these are just empty gestures to avert the anger of the masses.

If they want the Hindus of India to feel more oneness with them, they should ban cow slaughter on a permanent basis.  If they wish the Hindus of India to feel less aggrieved about the past, they should hand over the temples that have been forcefully converted to mosques and offer to restore them as historic reparation for the ills of over a thousand years.  They want the Hindus of India to “feel” for them, well, let them start first by “feeling” for us and our millennium of hurt, bad job prospects, bad housing, bad education etc.

Islamic institutions in India and the world over should ban killing of non-muslims in the name of their God.  They should emphasis that non-muslims are just as entitled to life and liberty as they are.  They should teach more inclusive subjects rather than regressive ones at their maddrass.  Insincere gestures are worthless unless they are followed up by something that will foster a long term peaceful accord between the muslims and the non-muslims.  Without some “action” on their part, these empty gestures might as well not be there.

Empty gestures by the people of India !

Oh how we love to cry over spilt milk !

Everytime a bomb goes off, killing us in the market, temple, work place, train station, we storm the local police station, write petitions, demand probes, hold candle light vigils at various places and than get back to our daily lives as if nothing has happened.

No one bothers to look at why this is happening to us again and again.  No one bothers to ask why security is not tight at our public places.  No one bothers to ask why the culprits continue to hound us despite all our efforts to pacify them.  More over, no one bothers to do anything about this.

We keep voting in the same failed politicians and parties year after year to run our crumbling municipal, state and national governments.  What worries me the most is, even after 50 years of misrule, we think India is safer in Congress hands than in the hands of other parties !  Even after 30 years of failed rule in West Bengal and Kerala, we continue to vote in the communists who have done nothing to improve the lot of the poorest in their states.  Indeed, the more someone fails, the more we seem to vote for them, as proved by the elections of this weekend.  When will we learn to punish our politicians for their failures and vote them out for good ?

As “people”, we are too scared of “change” and as a result prefer to wallow in the same cesspool as always rather than look for change.  In a nation of a billion people, we are unable or unwilling to find a handful of good decent people to lead us !  When decent people do present themselves to us, we are unwilling to support them.  Democracy is more than just “rights”, it’s a responsibility.  If the “people” fail their responsibility to choose the right people, they are responsible for the failed state of affairs they get from the government.

Maybe this is because we do not “care” what happens to “others”.  If the people of Mumbai are bombed, why should the people of Rajasthan care ?  If indeed the people of central India suffer from Nexal violence, why should the city folk care ?  What difference does the misery of Eastern states mean to the people of Dehli ?  The Southern states don’t care to know what the Northerners are thinking, the Northern states could not careless about the other states, ills of Eastern states do not get a mention in the Western states and the Western states are too busy in their own world to think about the rest.  Apart from the time we spend in the restaurants, tasting the delicacies of other states, when do we actually care what happens to others in our own country ?

Sadly, we are divided by linguistics, caste, creed and class lines.  Our politicians, media and education system divides us beautifully and divided we stay.  When will we ever unite ?  So wrapped up are we in our own world that we seldom care about our fellow Indians.  Sadly, as a result, suffering by one section of divided India is not even acknowledged by the rest of India.  Our hollow gestures of grief are laughed at by the terrorists who “feel the pain” of far away Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq and Afghanistan.   

After a bit of rage, life goes on.  No one thinks twice about it after a month.  Of all the empty gestures, the gestures of the “public” – aam admi - is the emptiest gesture of all – apathy !


Oh how I have cried for India in the past few weeks.
But, even this crying is an empty gesture, as it achieves nothing and means nothing.
With the same old people back in power, doing the same old thing for the same old purpose, India, sadly, will remain the same.




© Bhagwat Shah   [email protected]


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