Sunday, November 30, 2008

I want my India back!

By I.M. Indian

Unlike most Indians who had a ringside view of the terror attack on the night of the 26th, I was asleep. I awoke only the next morning to see The Times of India and haven’t slept since then. You’ll call me mad! But the fact is, I watched the 9pm headlines and then part of a movie and slept unusually early on Tuesday night, awoke at 4 am as I usually do and tossed around in the dark before lapsing into a fitful sleep again… a disturbing pattern that recurs every night. I didn’t switch on the TV or log on to any website at that unearthly hour. So I remained unaware that my favourite city was under siege.

Over the last few days, almost voyeur-like, I’ve watched news channels scoring television rating points over each other. And interspersing their live reality shows with unreal advertising breaks – it’s like rushing someone to hospital and pausing for a cigarette break on the way. If it was terror uninterrupted, it certainly wasn’t news uninterrupted. So, the media made some quick money out of a nation’s misery. But what’s new?

I watched politicians start the blame-game. And police martyrs cremated. But it was all happening to people I didn’t know. I was upset and angry until Sabina’s news came through. As though that wasn’t bad enough, Rohinton Maloo’s name appeared in a crawler on some channel. Not the same Rohinton, I convinced myself. In vain. It was the very same full-of-beans Parsi… and I was close to losing two lovely people. Did they know each other at all, I wondered, as they lay trapped in two different hotels? After all, there was so much in common between them – both were in the media, fun-loving, feisty and ever ready to help people in need. Why did it have to be them?

Today, at Sabina’s funeral, I watched a Chief Minister give her sound byte to one of the several news channels bang inside the crematorium. And I was asked by an electrician, holding one of the camera cables, “Who died?”

I could’ve answered, “Sabina.” Instead I looked at him and said “You. And I. And our India.”

Mr Politician, I want my India back.

Over every successive election, you’ve taken it away from me in painful instalments. And now I want it back.

I want back the country the Mahatma died for. The country my parents made their home when they fled across the border in 1947. The India I chose to live in and work for. And pay taxes to. Don’t make me give up on India, Mr Politician. Because you’ve had your chance and you’ve botched it up. Big time. You can’t give me back Sabina and Rohinton and all the others who died needlessly. Nor can you take away my memories of farewells at CafĂ© Leopold, of coffee at The Taj and dinner at the Oberoi. But you can give me back my India without raping it any more.

You’ve allowed terrorists to infiltrate our borders when other countries have succeeded in sealing theirs. Has USA had another 9/11? Has the UK seen any other bomb blasts after the Tube was attacked? Has Israel allowed its people to be killed again after Munich? Has China ever seen a terrorist? Why, then, are we regular target practice to assassins without a heart? Is it because we have so many Indians that we don’t care? Or is it because our elected representatives care only for themselves?

Come on, Ms Gandhi, Mr Singh, Mr Advani, Mr Patil and Mr Thackeray! You’ve built your future and that of your progenies by systematically destroying ours. So, give me back my India.

I watched a father, a daughter, a son, a brother, a mother weep today. But I felt no sadness. Strangely, no tears. Just anger and shame that I have allowed my India to be held ransom like this.

All the way back from the funeral, I asked myself: is this the country I want my children to grow up in? Like so many others, should I abandon it and migrate to America or England, Singapore or even neutral, peaceful Switzerland? And it made me even angrier that I was being forced to think this because you, Mr Politician, chose to play your petty games while a larger war was being unleashed. So, give me back my India.

Give it to me now. Allow me and a billion others to defend themselves because you are incapable of it. Give me the India we set out to be; not what you are making it to be. Today, I am angry. Tomorrow I will be uncontrollable and will rebel. Your Z-category security will stand aside and allow you to be publicly lynched because you feel that what happened in Mumbai was “only a small incident”. You forget that the same shoulders that carried the corpses of their relatives and friends and colleagues will one day stand like a phalanx and prevent you from going any further. Don’t make this the start of your end.

Don’t tempt an angry Indian, Mr Politican. Another set of rulers tried it and failed a century ago. We’ll do it again – only this time, the enemy lies within.

I don’t want Pakistan being blamed. Or USA being pleaded with to exert pressure. I want you to give me back my India.

Because you are not India.

I am India. And I will be. In spite of you.


21speed said...

expresses my feelings perfectly.

chiti chiti bang bang said...

My sentiments, exactly.

pree2cool said...

wow! what emotion! you've put all that my friends and i feel and have felt over the past few days into the perfect words.

Rajdeep said...

...but the politician will never give u back anything...he never has he never will...that is not his make...and even if we had perfect systems the enemy would still find his way thru...he will still try and cause mayhem...and there will be a time gap between the cavalry coming to the rescue and the time the enemy strikes...but there will be u and me and our likes who will be there at ground zero...we citizens need to do something...we won our freedom because the aam admi fought back in whichever capacity...maybe it is time again for the aam admi to learn to defend himself again...the way media today uses the citizen journalist to get pics/stories they other wise would not have got...maybe indian citizens should learn survival as and self defense techniques...maybe as there is a drive to have sex education taught in schools we should have anti-terror education imparted in schools...our children could be taught as to what to be done when terror strikes...this could help keep the body count down atleast...

SanjayA said...

Well said Mohit.

The problem is that for far too long PLUs (People Like Us) have watched from the sidelines because such things always happened to someone else - it was always someone else's disaster/problem. We had mentally seceded from India. Now, we cannot be spectators anymore but active participants. What are we all prepared to do to reform the inept, ignorant, uncaring and corrupt system?

Anonymous said...

How will you do it? Stand for election and we'll vote for you if you are ready to sacrifice your high-paying job and comforts. If you really want to walk the talk be ready to slog it out instead of writing mushy stuff from the confines of your AC room and unburdening your moral guilt through blogging. Work more and Talk less.

Anonymous said...

Agree with you entirely. We are all angry. But then a country gets the government it deserves. The politicians we elect reflect what we have become. We all turn a blind eye to corruption. In fact it is considered stupid to be honest and straight forward if you are in the civil services. Year after year we elect corrupt career politicians. Are we perfectly honest in our regular dealings. I am sure some readers of the blog have paid an x % in 'black' as a down payment for their flat. We all applaud and envy the wealthy and equate it money with success. And as always ends justify the means. Even as a nation mourned some of us took potshots at an inconsequential Raj thakrey through a chain sms claiming that finally the north and south indians saved hapless victims while the Marathi Manus stood by. We now know how the hotel staff, doctors (some of them Marathis / Mumbaikars) trapped inside the Taj helped save many lives. Vir Sanghvi even wrote in his editorial that the sms summed up the mood of the nation. Really?!

Misery begets more misery. Cynicism begets more negativism. It is one downward spiral. Wonder how we will ever come out of this

Rashika Ojha said...

I completely agree with every word written in this piece... I went through all these emotions, also the anger and anxitey. The entire system in our country has played with our emotions and faith... and we have been sustaining to the injuries constantly inflicted on us. Why? & No more. I can't forget CM Maharashtra'a speech, he was so relaxed as if nothing happened at all.
Yes Mohit, we want our India back. And my condolences to you who lost two close friends.

Anonymous said...

Yup, I agree. Action speak more than words. Stop blogging and start doing. Go to your area Municipal councillor, MLA, MP, Police Station and check out what the situation is. Lead your Residents Welfare Association to make at least the place you live better and more secure.

shashank said...

You have got it so right... but i hope we have the strength to get our country back from these goons.
BTW have a look at the Pakistan media's take on the episode its very, very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Dear I M Indian. Probably one of the best reads on the issue. Refreshing and Non-Violent.

Ram Mohan/The Gambia said...

Brilliant. Poignant and yet not Cliche'. Strong and yet not violent. Give us back our India.

Anonymous said...

Dear I M Indian,
I fully understand your emotions and am in the same boat. Very well expressed blog.

Daljit Dixie said...

A well expressed blog. I have a few comments:

-I (people like me and you) have created the politicians
-I(me and you) have handed over the reigns of our country to them
-We have done so, not out of 'well considered thought', but because we really couldn't care a damn about 'Our India'
-We are great at articulating our thoughts, expressing our indignation and taking on a high moral ground because it suits us to do so
-We are people who now feel vulnerable and threatened because our citadels (Taj & Oberoi etc) have been invaded; because we or our near ones could be the next targets
-We have become epicureans and find it convenient to air our ire rather than move and make a difference
-We have become 'complainers' and experts in our ability to pin blame on everyone/everything external to us; we have become, seemingly, silent spectators to everything that is wrong in our society; we take shortcuts, we bribe our way through every offence, we feed the very system that we overtly despise. Because we do not have the gumption to stand up and be counted.
-We need to look within and answer ourselves; have we ever taken ownership of Our India?
-We have willingly handed over our country to whosoever is willing to run long as 'we', the priviledged', can continue to live in comfort
-Let us understand clearly that 'we' have abdicated our responsibility and are continuing to reap what we sow.

The question that we need to answer is whether "I am prepared to be the Change that I seek?". And, if the answer is yes, then we need to awaken from our slumber and do something about it.

And we can have our India back!


Two With Nature said...

the Bourgeoisie are upset and are now scared. it was a wake up call for us, so far only the poor died, or those who travelled in crowded trains. but now, it is the SEC A1+, we, who wine and dine at expensive luxury hotels, are in danger. we feel seriously threatened and now we finally feel that our existence might just be as random.

so will we change anything? will we ensure that the politicians pay for this? public memory is short. media memory is even shorter. tomorrow there's another breaking news, and we will forget what happened last week. who's willing to take the responsibility to make sure that nobody forgets what happened, to make sure it doesn't get repeated, not just in bombay, even in assam, or orrissa, or kashmir?

N said...

I refuse to cry anymore. I refuse to flail. I refuse to pose questions to anyone. I refuse to beg. I refuse to conform. That freak show that is our politicians is so happily playing out because the rest of us help put it together every few years and are done with our civic obligations. Pay those taxes, curse when driving over those pot-holed roads, click our tongues when policemen rape minors and watch mouth agape as a handful of men tripping on God knows what spray our hapless friends with bullets.

I reported on politics for quite a few years. Couldn't stick it out - didn't have the stomach for it. It was surreal being at arms length of these people. The supreme belief in their own invincibility, the almost childlike conviction that everything has a price. Shudder.

The vermin have to be weeded out. Eradicated. There are thousands of them crawling all over the place. Flush them out -- we all have a chance in the next few months. Get together, resolve not to let any illiterate, criminal ingrate get elected. Don't let anyone over the age of 65 get elected. Don't let anyone who is slothful, has been inefficient get elected. Huge task. But we have to do it.

And yes, if it means that some from among us will have to get our hands dirty to clean up this mess, let's do it. Whoever among us has the felicity must must come forward. NOW.

Ajay Goel said...

Dear Jack,
Completely share your sentiments. I was born in India and grew up in India. Have worked for 21 years now. The unforgettable incident of Mumbai and your Blog forces all of us to rethink, as to in what kind of India we want our kids and future generations to grow up in. What kind of India would they be born in? What kind of society would it be? Based on Love, freedom, happiness, trust and respect or one based on fear, hatred?

Can we do something about it? Can I do something about it now? Perhaps yes. and I think I am going to participate in some productive manner and contribute in building an India which our next generation would be proud of? Where the Mind is without fear.

Rahul Jauhari said...

Chanced upon your post.
Liked it, mate.

My views on the subject:

Ram said...

Hi Jack - Liked your post and commented on it earlier too. Just realised that you too are a 'Jack'! We too have a 'Jack' who's been quite popular at a site where a busload of childhood friends from NDA days meet up . Anshu ( Tandon) forwarded your blog to us and voila..... Check our 'Jack's Story' at if you have the inclination for some painful humour and the time as well! Cheers. Ram

Chandra S Ganduri said...

Nice post..! Share your feelings..! But... one comment...I dont think .. it is correct.. to blame.. all politicians..!

Mumbai had its chance... and it has not changed.. and so has the country..! So lets leave by it..!

We cant be treating politicians as bunny bags.. just for venting out our frustrations.. !!

We get what we deserve..! We are today in this position.. because.. as nation we have collectively failed.. to act.. Today state of affairs.. in the country is consequence.. of an average Indian's lethargy...and chaltha hain chalegaa attitude..!

No point in just shooting your bullets.. in air..! Aim those on enemy and get them down..!!