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Friday, December 14, 2007

Bullets for that bubble-gum

The grisly inauguration of ‘gun-culture’ in India having been formally completed over a twelve year old’s body, the country is all abuzz with shock and consternation in no time.

But, didn’t we see it coming?

My answer is yes. We should have.

Moreover, if we fail to stem the rot with immediate effect ‘campus killings’ might get glamorized in no time in the coming future. Children fed on graphic images of blood and gore from a very tender age grow up to believe in the apparent acceptance of it in real society. Too much time spent on the virtual world of computers give them an entirely false impression about the ‘real’ world outside. Hence, when provocation, however minuscule, coupled with the juvenile indifference to restriction cloud their senses they choose violence as the form of apt retribution. Aiding these abettors in crime are factors like negligence and lack of attention from the parents’ end which slowly make the child attention-hungry. A chance to make the world stop and take note of you is but an extremely attractive proposition in those circumstances.

One incident of Abhishek Tyagi should act as an eye-opener to all of us before our university, college and school campuses become infested with psychopathic killers on the prowl. What’s most disturbing is the fact that the offender is said to have acted out of fear of his own life, owing to a previous death-threat by the victim to him.

Bullies are not a novel concept to schools and school-goers. Hence, the fact that a mere threat was perceived to be ‘real’ in nature and that the boy really thought that the victim could actually deliver on his threat is the point of measured consideration. Two twelve year olds taking a ‘death-threat’ seriously and acting upon it in a pre-emptive manner is something that the society as a whole must deliberate upon with grave concern.

Are guns becoming too easily available? Well, if you talk of Bihar, Jharkhand, UP (and lately our own Nandigram) the answer is “yes”. But by meaning ‘availability to the urban populace who apparently have no use of it’ one would say “yes” at the risk of being labeled an outright alarmist. So, should every parent wait till there are more reports of kids getting shot by their friends before they trash that ‘Resident Evil’ or ‘God of War’ cd? The answer is anybody’s call.

But, the future in case of unrestricted exposure of children to violence does seem gloomy from here. Our indulgent eye might be met with terrifying images when, five years from now, a DU or a CU campus might see a depressed maniac or a disgruntled lover on the rampage. Only this time there might not be a petty revolver in his hand. He might be wielding a blood-thirsty Kalashnikov, fully loaded.

And he might not turn out to be as saintly as our own Sanju baba.

Photo: from

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Going the Modi Way

As the run-up to the Gujarat election treats the avid onlooker to myriad antics that politics in India so regularly has to offer, the perceptive cannot help but voice concern over the recent incidents.

The raging debate over the incendiary speech that Narendra Modi gave the other day at an election rally in Gujarat has made it to the headlines the nation over. The political motive to polarize the electorate on the basis of faith is blatantly naked and compellingly unacceptable. There can never be enough justification for a Chief Minister of a state baying for the blood of ‘terrorists’, the allusion being too transparent to be deciphered with any difficulty. That the speech was a fitting reply to the Congress President’s ‘merchant of death’ remark wouldn’t even fool a schoolboy in Surat. But then, this isn’t about political affiliations (I assure that I have none. I only side with the ‘relative right’, though I admit that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find even marginal sanity in the present political spectrum). It is about reviewing the direction in which Gujarat is headed. It is about posing questions about the political expediency of a communal riot. It is about asking the average Gujarati what he/she wants. And for how long.

One can understand the atmosphere of insecurity and fear in which the previous Assembly election in Gujarat was held. It was within a year from the riots that had devastated the state and the air was thick with tension like never before. It was apparent from the landslide victory of the BJP that the communally charged propaganda had reaped rich dividends. But, four years is a lot of time. Things have moved, if not at a brisk pace, and living in the past is a fruitless exercise that no sensible Gujarati would approve of. The ‘healing touch’ has not been provided to the Muslims in Gujarat and understandably so. In an age of political opportunism where mass-sentiments are stoked for bagging electoral benefits, if the continued vilification of an 11% minority can churn out victory after victory in elections let it be so. No pangs of morality (whoever said that of politicians!). No bouts of compunction.

Milking religious sentiments for staying in power suffers from ‘the laws of diminishing returns’ though, and it might manifest its most unpleasant facets to the saffron brigade not before long. The BJP might win this election in Gujarat on the ‘Religion’ poll-plank but it might have few takers at the national level, where functional coalitions have become an accepted reality. The NDA- already a shrinking pool of regional parties might collapse if the shutters of the ‘Hindutva’ laboratory are not pulled down fast in Gujarat. Fully aware of its political compulsions, the BJP keeps pursuing its old trusted ‘ideals’ out of utter desperation and strategic vacuum. Its emphasis on a Modi-centric campaign, disregarding dissension within the ranks only attests to that helplessness. But, thinking apolitically, I wonder how the Gandhinagar textile merchant would vote this time around. Whom the Saurasthra farmer will settle for. Which way the Surat-diamond merchants would sway.

All these people who do a service to the Commerce of this nation every single day by being devoted to their enterprise; will they realize how they are being made to applaud the Emperor’s clothes of ‘Muslim extremism’ for too long. Will they wake up to the fact that for one Muslim terrorist there is also a thousand hard-working people of his creed who share nothing with the former except their prayer timings? Will they realize that it is only ignorance, poverty and misinformation that barricades the members of the ‘other faith’ and impedes their path to a better life?

A sensitive revision of the situation is the need of the hour in Gujarat.

It is the responsibility of every Gujarati to issue a timely reminder to all political parties that they cannot be misled into believing in ghosts of the past forever. Being the harbingers of progress that they are, one can bank on their sound judgment.

In matters of trade.

In matters of life.

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