Tea Parties And Terror Attacks: Why It's Time To Shift The Debate From Intolerance To Injustice

08/01/2016 8:31 AM IST | Updated 29/08/2016 9:42 PM IST
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I remember growing up in a different, more "normal" India.

I was born in the late 1980s -- a time when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister of India, a time when cell phones and social media were still unborn and the only trolls we knew of were in our bedtime stories.

It was a time when educating your children, the importance of respecting women and respect for all animals took precedence over one animal, deemed by some as sacred enough to kill for.

It was a time when the words of the National Pledge, "India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters..." were printed on the first page of every school diary and recited religiously in schools with ardent belief and meaning.

[W]e applauded Modi's impromptu high tea with Nawaz Sharif. And then we got the bombing of Pathankot for dessert.

That India I talk of seems to have got lost a long time ago, buried in the sands of a tumultuous decade in Indian governance that has now given rise to its even uglier, more unjust twin.

Yes, I will use the word "unjust" and not intolerant. For I am concerned not about who has become more tolerant or intolerant but rather how and why we as a country have become so unjust towards our own.

This injustice stared us in the face with Salman Khan's acquittal and the juvenile rapist's walk to freedom. It confronted us when a man was beaten to death for allegedly consuming beef and when Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to comment for far too long.

Injustice is the new normal in our country today and unfortunately it starts with our prime minister who is as fervent and enthusiastic in his speeches, compliments and promises abroad as he is silent on pressing matters back home.

Incidentally, my vote was with Narendra Modi in the grand elections of 2014 that saw him reign victorious in a landslide win. Seduced by the promise of change, progress, growth and improvements in many aspects of governance, Indians as a whole, tired of the Congress's decade-long stalemate brand of governance and the ever-silent then PM Manmohan Singh, eagerly put their fingers on the BJP's flower logo and voted for change.

Then came the foreign trips and FDI investments rolling in which personally I support fully and continue to do so. The need and importance of such investments for the country's future are quite clear.

What has been a disappointment and continues to be is how our esteemed PM has stayed mum repeatedly on very serious and scathing issues like the Dadri lynching, which took place in the backdrop of beef bans that served only to accentuate religious divides. And now, the terror attack in Pathankot is another sign of the failure to use intelligence appropriately. Now, we're being told that all the terrorists have been neutralised and all is well again.

The worry is not as much about the enemy as it is about how competently our own leaders can keep us safe from them.

What they don't realise is that all can never be well on the Indo-Pak battleground as things stand today.

Diplomacy with Pakistan and birthday high teas can only be applauded when they are followed by a step up in relations and peace talks. Being hopefuls and impressed with a never-before-done move towards amity with his recent fly-by handshake, we applauded Modi's impromptu high tea with Nawaz Sharif.

And then we got the bombing of Pathankot for dessert. The umpteenth incident in a series of uncalled for attacks and ceasefire violations.

Recent events only testify that diplomacy needs to be shelved and the time has come for immediate play on the offence. How long are we as citizens in the cross hairs of this repeated coup of catastrophe and corruption going to sit in a corner and worry about getting on that next train, flight or waking up to the news of the loss of more of our own? The worry is not as much about the enemy as it is about how competently our own leaders can keep us safe from them.

As the dust settles on the political landscape today, it seems Mr Kejriwal may be the only one getting it right so far with Delhi's odd-even car plan earning more nods than shakes of the head and a hope for further drops in Delhi's abysmal air pollution levels.

Meanwhile, I hope the Prime Minister shifts his focus from dinner diplomacy. The gunshots in Pathankot continued for days after our first jawan was shot down. Leaders and ministers talk the big talk about "befitting replies" but so far we have only been on the defence and our replies have only been reactionary at best. The time has come for pro-active, offensive measures.

If this is delayed further, it will be another grave injustice to your own country that is in need of a real leader and a hands-on captain to steer a ship on shaky waters.

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