Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The aftermath

It's almost exactly a week, to the hour, since it all began. Since India saw the beginnings of what would turn into 60 hours of unending horror.

I was in a conference in Chennai all of Friday and Saturday, and had told my father and my friend to keep updating me. All my friend would keep saying in her SMS' all through Friday was "It's still not over." Saturday morning I was about to leave the hotel when I saw the Taj catch fire again on the ground floor and first floor. Half an hour later, en route to the conference, I got the news: It was over.

My brother's friend's uncle. My friend's aunt's friends. My dad's former colleague's nephew. These are not people I would have ever met. But they're impacted. Greeting people online in the past week, we haven't been saying "how're you doing?"; we've been asking, "is everyone you know alright?"

It's hard to put down thoughts about all that has happened. I could talk about how anguished I am at all the deaths and the injuries. I could talk about how awed I am at the courage displayed by the hotel staff of the three hotels, all the NSG commandos and to some extent, the journalists who were out there for three days, telling us what was happening. I could tell you how grateful I am to know my immediate near and dear ones are safe. I could tell you how weird and guilt-inducing it feels to realise that we are back to our regular lives, when for so many, life will never be the same again.

Or I could tell you how sickened I feel when I hear R R Patil quote DDLJ, or watch Naqvi talk about "paschimi poshak". How exasperated I feel when I watch the Congress and the NCP squabble over who could be the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra. How disgusted I feel when I hear about Narendra Modi offer compensation to the widow of the man he said all kinds of things about when he was alive - well, that I don't really need to; you all know I hate the man.

There are, however, three things I would like to say.

First of all, the BJP has no bloody business talking about the Congress' ineffectiveness against terror and demanding the whole government resigns. Their Prime Ministerial candidate, L K Advani, was Home Minister when the IC 814 hijacking took place; he didn't resign when his Foreign Minister escorted those terrorists to the border. He didn't resign when Parliament was attacked; he didn't resign when hundreds of Muslims were killed in Gujarat. So, no, I'm not particularly impressed with the Congress, but the BJP has no right to say anything.

Secondly, there's been a lot of comment all round on the role of the media in this entire incident. I am impressed with the courage they have shown, and if not for them, we would have had no idea about what was happening. I watched only three channels all through the events - NDTV 24x7, CNN IBN, and Times Now. Of the three, I thought NDTV was the sanest, Barkha Dutt's increasing stupidity notwithstanding. I could have whacked all the channels on the head for showing minute details of the rescue operations while the operations were on, but that's 24-hour news channels for you. They don't think terrorists with satellite phones have access to cable television.

What is annoying me, however, is the way they're carrying on after the attack is over. By carrying on and on about how ineffective our government is, they're pretty much telling the whole world the state of our country, and scaring the people of the country even more. So the terrorists might be dead, but you're just adding to the success of their mission, aren't you?

And finally, this entire campaign that the citizens of India have begun. Candle light marches, rallies in all the metros, and a strong desire to make our authorities understand what we need.

Here's my question: why has this come about? Because the "elite" of the country were hit. You can talk all you want about wanting a better India; the only reason this is happening is because the moneyed people have woken up to the fact that they are vulnerable as well.

The TV channels were up in arms talking about injustice to Jessica Lall when Manu Sharma got acquitted; other than Tehelka, name one newspaper, magazine, or channel which even mentioned the Dalit killings in Maharashtra? Plenty of soldiers die everyday in J&K and in the North East; which politician goes to visit their homes?

For three days, we saw cameras focused constantly on the Taj, the Oberoi, the Trident, and Nariman House. Can someone tell me the sequence of events VT station? How many people died there? What really happened at Cama Hospital? I don't know. Because amidst all the media reports, the blog entries, everything, these events are barely mentioned.

I can understand the focus being on the Taj. The people trapped inside for 58 hours, the commandos who went in and battled it out - they all have my utmost sympathies. But don't forget the aam aadmi in the concern for the rich.

If this campaign by the citizens lasts, I'll be extremely happy. If it achieves some good, I'm all for it. But please, be honest about why this has happened.

And on a lighter note, here's Jon Stewart for you:


ZiggyStrauss said...

i watch jon stewart as I type. I love him :)

apart from that, everything you said is true.

(stupid comedy central videos dont load as smoothly as youtube ones! grr)

The Seeker said...

I can't comment on the political bits of your entry, but sadly, the media are never going to be objective. It's all about what people want to see - no one is interested in dying soldiers if it happens frequently, or people a few classes below you. Just a couple of months ago there was a huge debate in the media - why did one missing girl get months and years of coverage, while another one didn't? Only because she wasn't as pretty and from a working class background.
It's not wrong as such - they can't dedicate the same amount of time and space to everything, but it's still a question of where to draw a line.

a traveller... said...

@Ziggy: *gasp* You're agreeing with things I say? Will wonders ever cease?

Also, it's interesting, but this morning, Radio Mirchi was saying the exact same things I've said. Which is the first I've heard mainstream media talk about the elite being hit being the reason for all this agitation. Y'think they read this? :D

Prerna said...

I agree - the blame game taking place between (and even within) political parties is sickening.

The media is a double-edged sword. You can blame them for covering the opeartion in minute detail while it was on; but really I think it is playing an increasingly important and relevant role today - it is coz of the effort of these "24*7" reporters that we got to witness the extent of damage and widespread terror (n anger, grief); they are the ones who question the politicians from the aam aadmi's point of view imploring them to take action! N they play a vital role in getting us together as a nation!

N our government is ineffective - the system has failed us. This is something we all know. So I don;t think it's right to criticize the media for bringing this to focus . After all, they are one of us too -helpless, bearing the brunt of inept and corrupt politicians and babus.

Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Belum said...

I agree with you Ra...these inept politicians annoy me given the mockery they are- eg: Modi!! and so do these channels screeching 'Yeh aap ke ghar mein ho sakta hain!'
However, what upsets me most is my cynical response to these elitest candlelight marches which increasingly I feel are a mockery. Their jaded, botoxed souls' superficial awakening to society...before it fades out, there is never a sustained effort from anyone. I suppose I have no business judging them either.
Sorry for rambling. All I wanted to say was I agree with you rara.

a traveller... said...

@Belum: Rambling is always welcome here, my love. Although, "Belum"?!

@Preru: I don't deny that the media did an excellent job of informing us as well as motivating people to get things going. My problem with them is simply with the motivation. Assam saw a bomb blast on Monday; other than one article at the bottom of the front page, I saw nothing else on it.
As Fin said upar, they need to balance things out. And draw the line somewhere.

deepakgauri said...

couldn't agree more.. wrote something very similar a few days back on my own blog.. its a sad state of affairs, but its also imperative that we remain strong while this mess continues to unfold.. the greatest horror is the way the entire thing is being managed..

Runjoo said...

brilliant post rahi, like all the other ones before this. echoes my sentiments for the most part.

Belum said...

well 'Belum' means 'not yet'...
and so it fits a whole range of things in life :)

a traveller... said...

@deepakgauri: yes, we do need to stay strong, and more importantly, to use an extremely cliched term, united. telling the world how fragmented we are simply doesn't cut it.

@Runjoo: i'm flattered! :) you mentioned 'for the most part' - anything you disagree with?

@Belum: I like. :)

Runjoo said...

no, i meant most of it is what i 'exactly' feel, word for word.nothing i really disagree with.
i am so utterly disgusted with the political's beyond anything i can ever express.