Sunday, January 4, 2009

The power of hatred

Kasab - Deadly Fidayeen caught in Mumbai 26/11

In our relentless television yuga, no explanation is needed for a putta virama. The best thing about a “short break” is that, while it is never short, it is always a break; it ends and news follows as surely as defection follows election in Karnataka.

During the silence of this particular virama, however, our world changed. Terrorism took hold of our lives. It’s a wholesale, all-embracing kind of terrorism that affects even simple things like going to the station to catch train or enjoying tindi in a favourite restaurant. This is a paradigm shift, a new epoch. From now on the life-changing adjustments required to cope with terrorism will be the substance of our lives. We will be living as the Palestinians, the Afghans and the Pakistanis have been living for decades – in a culture of terror.

Of course we have some things the others do not have. A functioning democracy, a thriving economy, some good universities, a free press, arts, cinema, music, theatre. These may make us feel that we are better off than our neighbours. But even these assets will now be under the shadow of instant unpredictabilities of a bloody kind.

Not all the armies and technologies of the world can eliminate this shadow. This is because the prime motivation that drives terrorism is hatred, the most powerful emotion known to man, and an emotion unknown to other animals. Jews, the first people in history to employ political terrorism (when their Zealot Movement created violent insurrection against the Romans in AD 66) are still hate-driven against the Arabs; see the bloodthirstiness of their ongoing air attacks in Gaza. The Arabs of course return the compliment.

The intensity of Jewish hatred towards Arabs has only two parallels in our time – the Al Quaida’s hatred of America, and Pakistani army elements’ hatred of India. In the madrassas run by them in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the main teaching imparted to young boys is how to hate. There is no stopping the indoctrinated fanatics who come out of such brainwashing schools.

Pakistan’s former ISI chief, Hamid Gul, was recently on TV. This is a man on America’s list of global terrorists. Yet his words and facial expressions reflected contempt for his critics and an arrogant self-confidence. A highly skilled professional, his mind is not open to discussion. It feeds on hatred.

Let’s remember too that Pakistan has reliable friends, like China. Our Prime Minister’s trusted friend, America, made some friendly noises initially, but has changed positions subsequently. Germany came forward with help to upgrade India’s national security apparatus. The next day’s news was that Germany was selling submarines to Pakistan.

Others look after their interests. We can look after our interests only if
(a) we are a united people,
(b) we have foolproof systems and
(c) our leaders are committed to national interests and nothing else.

Examine these factors honestly and what do we find? The New York terror attack united Americans in an exemplary way. But we are still fighting over Muslim terror and Hindu terror, over caste and language and rivers. In 60 years we have become more divided as a people. Our systems are full of holes because corruption corrodes all decisions. We have learned nothing from Bofors. As for our leadership, they are unforgivably self-centred. Who kept Shivraj Patil in the Home Minister’s chair until he became a national disgrace? Who is still keeping national security chairs warm for incompetence? How long will small, greedy minds hold back India from its destiny of greatness?