Dec 26, 2008

26th December 2008

As promised, a short post on some of the items regarding the November attacks on Bombay that caught my eye in the last couple of weeks:

I got a lot of forwards and text messages asking me to light candles, show solidarity, and the like. That misinforming email about "article 49-O" got a renewed lease of life. Given this, Shekhar Gupta's essay on what he calls the chatteranti, for me, hit several nails on their heads. But since it advocates sober systemic changes in a time of raw anger, this article is unlike to do the rounds of mailboxes.
Our lives have changed, at least visibly. Security guards give you and your bags the once-over. I hope it's not just another aimless tick on the checklist. An example of how impractical this can get was in evidence at the Sawai Gandharva music festival a few days ago. Proposed security arrangements meant mobile phones and bags were initially disallowed, but on subsequent days, no one bothered. A very cursory check took place instead.
Intensely annoyed that:
a. An insignificant and faded public figure could easily hijack Parliamentary discourse, and that the rest of our politicians prefer to walk out rather that register protest and get back to discussing measures such as the anti-terror law.
b. I don't mind that lawyers object to representing the captured terrorist if they do so independently and conscientiously. But the Shiv Sena has no right to impose its morality on others. Well, just another black tick on a massive canvas of tar.
c. There still is an atmosphere of turf battles and blame assignments.
Are we close to war? I feel it's a lot of public posturing. Been trying to not buy into the hysteria. Conventional wisdom says sucking the Pakistani army to the Eastern border strengthens the Taliban in Afghanistan. A new line of thought says that's not such a bad thing - either Obama, as stated, goes after that side, or Pakistani society is in such grave danger of Talibanisation that it gets its act together. Hard for me to tell which one is likelier.
Apart from the anti-terror bill, I couldn't tell if any concrete steps have been taken. For instance, what about modernising arms and equipment for the police? When are the various NSG hubs going to be established?
Looking for information is like standing in front of a fireman's hose. I find the news media continues to be shrill, taking easy potshots at politicians and purporting to be on the side of the common person. However, to their credit, some media men discussed some troubling aspects from the highly criticised coverage during the operations (Storyboard, CNBC-TV18), identifying areas such as: 1. the callowness of some of the on-field reporters 2. a lack of commonly accepted standards 3. the easy access of information from various govt. and military sources 4. the pressing need for training politicos and others in positions of authority in handling the media
Last link: read an interesting discussion between a pair of Indian (Nitin Pai) and Pakistani (Ahsan Butt) bloggers (link via DesiPundit)
And finally: how many of us can do simple things in an emergency such as using fire extinguishers or administering first aid for burns? What does one do if caught near a potential bomb situation (not stand and gape, hopefully)? What is the ideal response to these kinds of situations? Most of us would have no clue.

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