Dec 13, 2008

India - If on a winter morning

Varghese K George

Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor are the latest Bollywood stars to criticise the government for failing to tackle terrorism and protect citizens. Both said they were “disgusted” with politicians “who provide no leadership” while arming themselves “with so many security guards”
HT City, December 6

Film stars Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor recently got a taste of the tight security at the domestic terminal of the IGI Airport in New Delhi. As they were about to step into the lounge, the CISF inspector on duty asked Kareena Kapoor to present identity proof. While the lady appeared a tad embarrassed, Khan asked the inspector, “Aap inhe nahin jaante, kis duniya mein rahte hain (You don't know her? Which world do you live in?)” At this point, another CISF jawan on duty stepped forward and questioned Saif, “Arrey, aap kaun hain (Who are you?)” much to the amusement of other passengers lined up in the queue.
Hindustan Times, October 25

Seven years ago today, seven people were killed by terrorists who planned a massacre inside the Indian Parliament. The terrorists had targeted Parliament for a specific reason: to wipe out India’s top political leadership that would have destabilised the nation.

As the country now recovers from the Mumbai terror attack, an articulate and influential section of our society continues to demand that our politicians and democracy system are done away with. Luckily, there is a silver lining: a majority of Indians, particularly its poor and dispossessed, look up to the political process to drive change. The turnouts in the recent elections will tell you that story.

Doing away with security protection for political leaders is No. 1 on the ‘We hate politicians’ list. Shouldn’t someone tell these agitated souls that eliminating political leaders has been a primary terrorist tactic across the globe? Between 1985 and 1995, some 2,000 leaders of the Congress and hundreds of others from the BJP and even the Akali Dal fell to the bullets of terrorists in Punjab.

This is, of course, in addition to the assassinations of Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. They, too, were murdered because of the strong ideological and/or administrative offensive they mounted against terror of different hues. A sitting Chief Minister Beant Singh was killed for the same reason. Several CMs — N. Chandrababu Naidu, Farooq Abdullah and Budhadev Bhattacharjee are recent examples — have narrowly escaped death by terrorist attacks. All this, despite their security cover.

So is it a case that all politicians should be left to fend for themselves — while harrumphing celebrities fight terrorism by demanding Pakistan be ‘carpet-bombed’? Is one arguing here that had terrorists succeeded on December 13, 2001 to take out our politicians inside Parliament, we would have been better off?

An effective, representative and inclusive political system is our most effective defence against terrorism and extremism. So instead of simply deriding all politicians and democracy, Indians should rally around their political representatives and strengthen our nation.

And yes, the likes of Saif Khan and Kareena Kapoor can certainly provide leadership by showing their identity proofs to the security personnel at airports without too much fuss.

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