Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mumbai Attacks - 26/11 - Nov 2008

A lot has been said about the Mumbai attacks. I agree with somethings and disagree with some other things. Here are some things I feel the need to say to those who wish to know:

1. Save the money which would be spent on the candle and / or flowers and / or text messages to each other asking to burn candles. Let's say Rs5 are saved per person.
2. Donate these saving to Army Wives Association http://awwa-india.org/ or other such organisations. Assure the armed forces that we as a nation will continue on our own to support their families withouth passing the buck onto the government or to the army. The families of those who sacrifice their lives for the nation should be the priority of the nation. When they did not pass on the buck onto the government after being called to take charge how can we pass on the buck now?
Simple maths:
If each person above the poverty line living in just Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras was to donate Rs5 then the corpus would excees millions of Rupees.
Donate to anybody you want to or help otherwise (PM's fund, local gurudrawara, orphanage, school take your pic); all such actions help. But remember do not make them one-off-I've-done-my-bit actions. Small but continuous steps are better.
It does not matter how and where we help but we must. Our armed forces have our respect and rightly so. Even if they do not give up their lives just their presence is important. I can enjoy my life, go to the movies, do what I want, eat, drink, sleep, shop do whatever because there is somebody donning a uniform in my stead. He or she is there on my behalf, not on the government's behalf. Armed forces people risk their own lives for their comrades around them and for us, not for the government, not for the notion of India but for the people who are with them in conflicts (their teams, their group, their subordinates and colleagues) and for the people back home.

3. Ignore the glamour-affected-latest-hero-worship-fish-market-hollier-than-thou media houses which want to tell us how we should show solidarity with the armed forces of India and which news to focus on. Media houses (TV Channels esp) have a huge amounts of costs to recover; they are in an industry where the competition is extremely stiff.They have to make every second of air time count. Working the way they work is the only business model they know of and the only one that helps them to make money. They have to show returns on investments. It is foolish for the citizens of India to expect news TV channels to improve the quality of news reporting and analysis. Let the media be. We all get angry at them but they are to be pitied. They have no credibility and nor do they enjoy the respect of most of us. And of course this applies not just to the news channels but to the highly visible faces of these news channels, the so called news heads and to the content editors as well.

4. Do not forgive the politicians and the bureaucrats. Do whatever it takes to shake the fetid political foliage of our nation. Our politicians play with our lives our parents' lives our children's lives, destroy our youth, get the most courageous from amongst us killed for no reason (often facing terrorists without adequate equipment), dilly dally with reforms, cause the deaths of lakhs of Indian every year due to avarice, negligence and plain apathy and then the corruption...
One way is to invoke Sec 49-O of the Conduct of Election Rules Act 1961. Possibly the only weapon we the citizens have againt the politicians. It is our constitutional right as well as our duty.
Sec 49-O, under the Indian Constitution, essentially empowers each citizen of India to vote for "nobody". A voter can choose not to vote for anybody.
As of now this power can not be used by voters as the electronic voting machines do not have a nobody option but the Hon. Supreme Court of India is reviewing cases to get this option included. The Election Commission of India has also made similar recommendations. Although the Returning Officer at each booth can be informed of a "I vote for nobody" decision this would constitute a violation of the law which states that the decision of a voter can not be disclosed to anybody else.
With some changes this can become a possibility and in that case if the number of people in a constituency who exercise this option were to exceed the victory margin of the winner from that constituency then the election results would stand canceled. Re-election would have to be called for and none of the contenders from the initial election would be allowed to contest again.
Text of Sec 49-O
"49-O. Elector deciding not to vote.-If an elector, after his
electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters
in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as
required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his
vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in
Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb
impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark."

Source - Law Ministry Website

To know more:
There are other ways also, Checking the affidavits filed by the contenders in your area for criminal cases, and assets declaration among other things , using RTI Act for example.
5. Be good to each other as much as we can be. You love me I love you, to hell with the government, cause it just loves its own self (and even that can be disputed). The government is not the cure for all evil in our country, I have come across many in the government who are hard and honest workers and administrators. It becomes unjust to blame the entire government for everything.
All of us are busy, all of have problems and we can go on doing whatever we do, we can live our lives happily, we just need to make small efforts and do good.
There is some good news. I am happy to know that the Centre has decided to immediately setup new NSG bases in all the metros of India to reduce the reaction time in Mumbai-like situations (as of now the NSG is based out of Manesar near Delhi and it took them more than 3 hours to get to Mumbai).
Further,the states are also being advised to establish their own state-level NSG units which will be the first ones to reach the location of the crisis and act in concert with the Centre-Level NSG units (based out to Delhi and soon out of the other metros as well). The state-level NSG units will be of the same calibre as the Centre-level NSG units. Karnataka has already requested the Centre to help it establish and train a Karnataka NSG. I hope this plan works.
Just remember that more than 4/5th (40 odd) of the Mumbai Attack terrorists have escaped. They are now inside India and waiting for the right time. Better for all of us to be prepared and do our small bits.
Related post