Nov 302011
 

The DNA column, and yours truly,  got quoted in the NYT, India Ink section

Since the Mumbai attacks, India has suffered numerous terrorism-related incidents, including but not limited to: a September 2009 car bombing in Kashmir; attacks in Maoist rebel-controlled areas in May 2010 that killed dozens of security personnel, a September 2010 shooting that killed two tourists from Taiwan, a December 2010 bombing in Varanasi, and blasts at the Delhi High Court this September that killed more than a dozen.

Perhaps that’s why as the anniversary weekend ended, a common reaction from victim’s families and others was anger at how little has been done to improve security in Mumbai and elsewhere around the country.

“26/11 has become a ritual. A ritual like all others. Garlands, flowers, candles, meaningless words — but have we really learnt anything?,” asked one columnist in DNA newspaper on Monday.

“Mumbai, three years after 26/11, faces a 40 percent shortage of police personnel. There simply aren’t enough policemen to take care of law and order, let alone a terror attack,” Harini Calamur writes.

“The remaining anti-terror infrastructure promised in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks is still in the distant horizon. There is no political party asking why jobs are not being filled — by locals or others.”

 

Nov 292011
 

And after 4 days when the terrorists terrorized, the media went ballistic and people watched a spectator sport – it ended today, 3 years ago.

This morning I tried to look for the names of the police and the NSG men who died in the terror attacks. difficult to find the names in one place. Almost nada. Nothing. Zilch… there is something to be said about a culture that doesn’t mourn its dead, doesn’t feel a sense of loss … maybe that is why we get attacked – time and again. Not just because we have inept and venal politicians, but because the people don’t care.

The dead

JCP Hemant Karkare

ACP Ashok Kamte

PI Vijay Salaskar

PI Shashank Shinde

PSI Prakash More

PSI Baburao S. Dhurgude

PC A.R. Chitte

PC Vijay Khandekar

APSI Balwant C. Bhosale

APSI Tukaram S. Ombale

PC Yogesh Patil

PC Jayant H. Patil

PC Ambadas Pawar

PHC, RPF, M.C. Chaudhari

PHC, SRPF Rahul S. Shinde

Constable, Home GuardMukesh B. Jadhav

Major Sandip Unnikrushnan, NSG

Hv. Gajendra Singh, NSG

you read the addresses of the police who died – not the officers but the men -chawl x and chawl y. Do we even think about how the police live and work … to dismiss them with the ‘sab chor hai’ is so very, very wrong …

Ask… think. Reflect …

———–

The list of all  those who died- police, security forces, civilians  –  in the terror attacks – Mumbai 26/11 via @onlysilly on twitter

Nov 282011
 

My column in today’s DNA

26/11. A day three years ago, when the average Mumbaikar’s sense of relative security was ripped out.

It isn’t that Mumbai was a haven of security and peace. Quite the contrary. The last two decades had been quite traumatic for the city of dreams. First came the gang wars, followed by the riots and then by bomb blasts s in the first few years of the 1990s. This had an impact on  the fabric of the city, and its psyche went through trauma that was best associated with other places Then came the sporadic bomb blasts – targeting trains, buses, inflicting death, damage and fear  on a population that was on the move, trying to create a better life for itself and its families. Yet the city plodded on. Then came the floods – a random cloudburst that shook the city up. You still see the aftermath of that incident. A heavy downpour and half of Mumbai seems to be indoors. And, then came 26/11. Possibly, the most traumatic of the lot. Not because it happened in the elite areas of Mumbai. Not even because of the toll, but because the enemy – and let’s not mince words about who they were – were able to sneak into our city with the utmost ease, and unleash carnage, while all that we could do was wait and watch. That they were able to do this in multiple locations including trains stations, hospitals and hotels with ease makes one feel even less secure. The kind of impotence and paralysis associated with the four days of bloodbath was without parallel. An elite, highly indoctrinated, professionally trained, well-armed killer squad landed in your city, your country, and killed, and killed and killed – and there was no way to stop them.

Three years down the line, what is 26/11 signify. Like much else in this country – a ritual. A ritual where we take out old candles and light them, a ritual in which we send a file to Pakistan to ask for justice, a ritual in which television anchors, newspaper editors and intelligentsia pontificate on what was, what should be and what isn’t. 26/11 has become a ritual. A ritual like all others. Garlands, flowers, candles, meaningless words – but have we really learnt ?

The primary goal of the state is to keep its citizens secure. And, to ensure this security forces have to be well staffed, well trained, well armed, well coordinated.  Mumbai, three years after 26/11, faces a 40 per cent shortage of police personnel. There simply aren’t enough police to take care of  law and order, let alone a terror attack. The remaining anti-terror infrastructure promised in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks is still in the distant horizon. There is no political party asking why jobs are not being filled – by locals or otherwise. There is no rath yatra highlighting the miserable state of security across the nation, and there is no activism on keeping citizens secure. While it may be impossible to prevent terror attacks 100% of the time, it shouldn’t be this easy for the enemy to get through the gates.

The response of the Americans and the Europeans to terror attacks on their territory was all party consensus on  the way forward. Can you see our politicians, our civil society, our citizens coming together on anything? If the Congress proposes something, the BJP has to oppose and vice versa. Everything is a party political issue. Everything is geared towards capturing the headlines. And, political capital is sought to be built on every little aspect of Governance – be it FDI or security. National Interest takes a back seat in this political edition of Tom and Jerry. What politicians seem to forget is that while Tom and Jerry is fun to watch, does one  really want them in charge of the Nation?

And Finally, Everyone knows where the terrorists came from. Everyone knows who funded them, trained them and deployed them. They also know that these weren’t non-state actors but a State itself. So why does India persist in this delusion of ‘we need to be friends’ with Pakistan. They aren’t our friends. They never have been. There doesn’t have to be a logical, understandable reason for their visceral hatred towards India. What there has to be is an appreciation on the Indian side, that some people just want to see your country burn. And those people are not hidden away in caves in the Hindukush mountains, but are within the Government of Pakistan.

 

Sep 202011
 

My column in today’s DNA

 

It has been a decade since al-Qaeda took the war in the Middle East to the doorsteps of the Americans. 9/11 became a watershed moment for the ‘War on Terror’, with the US and its allies recognising what countries like India had been facing for more than a decade before that: small groups of interlinked, highly motivated terrorists brining war to civilian populations, in civilian areas.
The US responded by bombing Afghanistan. A year or so later it went to war with Iraq, ostensibly because it had weapons of mass destruction, but somewhere that war, too was enmeshed with the war on terror.
In the next 10 years, the US and its allies have waged a bloody and brutal war against terror, striking at suspected terrorist cells across the world, incarcerating people without trial at Guantanamo Bay, making incursions into sovereign territories in order to attack and destroy terrorists. To achieve this, intelligence networks have been put in place, information systems are up and running, a large number of military personnel, arms and armament, and equipment have been deployed. Targets are continuously attacked. And, of course, Osama Bin Laden has been killed. But, despite all this, the war on terror is not over. Terrorists still attack.
It is estimated that the US alone has spent over $4 trillion since 2002. Over and above this, there has been a tremendous human cost — approximately 2.5 lakh people have died and over 7 million refugees are living in camps across the world.
Has all this reduced the intensity of terrorist attacks? Maybe it has kept the US and its allies safe, but the rest of the world does not have the luxury of invading sovereign nations suspected of harbouring terrorists. The rest of the world has to fight terror the old fashioned way. Step by step. Keeping in mind the laws of their land; keeping in mind international laws; respecting international conventions on sovereignty, and adhering to international codes on human rights. These countries simply cannot send crack assassination teams to nations that harbour terrorists. In many ways the anti-terror machinery in other countries apart from the US and its allies, fights with one hand tied behind its back. While these countries are able to stop most terror attacks, they have been rather unsuccessful in stopping the funding of terror.
One of the most lucrative sources of funding terror has been the production, processing, distribution and retailing of narcotics the world over. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, despite their rejection of modernity, terrorists have adopted sophisticated, modern techniques of using crime to fund the war. This includes drugs & arms trafficking, laundering the monies earned from this, and deep involvement in cross border organised crime.
An earlier 2007 report from the UNODC had pegged the total value of the previous year’s opium harvest in Afghanistan alone, earned by farmers, laboratory owners and Afghan traffickers at about $3.1 billion. Afghanistan is not the only opium producer in the world. Pakistan is another major opium growing country. The same theory applies to India. Large portions of Naxal controlled areas grow opium and others are used to traffic drugs in relative safety. Kashmir is another area where Opium is grown and trafficked.
The war on terror will not succeed until there is political will to cut off the money supply that fund terror. And a large part of not only the money supply but also the ground level organisation that plants terror is the narcotics trade. The last 20 years of the war on drugs have yielded nothing except to put huge profits — in cash — into the hands of those who seek to disrupt nation states. It seems ridiculous that while spending billions on fighting terror, governments across the world do not cut off the source of funds. The war on drugs is not a war that can be won by patrolling every inch of the globe and burning down every opium farm. There simply isn’t the manpower to achieve it, and growing it is far too easy, and the profits far too high not to be tempted. It can only be won by legalising drugs, monitoring it, taxing it and tracking it. Governments and various agencies across the world need to shed their dogma about prohibition of drugs. To fight and win the war on terror, the source of funds needs to be cut off. And that starts with legalising drugs.

Sep 142011
 

So Pakistan Published an Ad on 9/11. In the WSJ.

The trouble with laughing so much that your stomach hurts, is that there is no time to feel outrage :D

And, then given that it is the net and there is a comic hidden under every ID – came the response

Boss, who ever you are, where ever you may be *claps* .. and thankyou
As Atal Behari Vajpayee once said poster ka jawaab poster se do :D
(he didn’t, it was in reference to books, but hey, this is the net. if Pak can put out that ad, I can misquote ABV)