Friday, December 12, 2008

On the recent Mumbai attack

When I first came to know of the attack I was only wondering whether it was a reply to the classic movie "A Wednesday". I had reviewed "A Wednesday" just a few posts earlier.

First of all I salute all the valiant heroes of our motherland who laid their lives so that we may live in peace. May their souls rest in peace.

Mumbai is a city I have never visited. Well, I did once on my very first trip to Singapore way back in 1996 when the now defunct East West Airways took us to the domestic airport. From there we were transported to the International Airport where I tried best to look outside my vehicle's window to catch a glimpse of the Bombay I had read about and seen in scores of films. Bombay at that time was sleeping, a time well past midnight.

I am not going to go through the innumerable topics related to this attack as they have been discussed to boring levels but here are some of my thoughts on topics that aren't and weren't discussed.

1. What to do and how to react if you are convinced 100% that you may die?This is a difficult question to discuss but many people who actually went through near-death experiences came out of danger by doing just one important thing - keeping their cool and not letting themselves die hopelessly by simply submitting themselves to death. As I wrote earlier it is easier said than done but Dale Carnegie discusses one such experience in one of his books. A high ranking official during war and was faced with such a live or die situation. By keeping his cool he came out of it successfully.

In such a situation. You have only two options - a. Let yourself succumb to fate b. Do something to save your lives. Though the second is the most practical thing to do many don't. Fear psychosis envelopes them and instead of doing something which could have given them a chance to escape, it (fear) kills them before anything else.

I am not trying to say that all of us need to become brave soldiers but if you are sure that you are facing death you only have two choices - allow yourself to die or don't allow that to happen. So the obvious question is what to do? Ans - Anything to keep yourself alive instead of just submitting to death passively. With all the intelligence God gave you fight to stay alive and that means even fighting the terrorist if the need be. Who knows, in the process you may succeed and live. You may ask, "Fight the terrorist?" And the answer is "Yes. You can and even unarmed."

It is here that I would like to emphasize the importance of military training. In several countries military training is compulsory for boys after school. After that every two or three years they are back in training camp to keep fit and hone their skills. Singapore is one such nation. It is a shame that many Indians who live there send their children to India after school to avoid the military training. One Singapore born Indian who holds the equivalent rank of a General told me that if there was anything that helped him in his life it was the Military Training imparted to him. Nana Patekar playing the role of an army officer in "Prahaar" (unreasonably violent film) insisted that every Indian go through military training to serve his country and feel true love for the nation. Other than those who enter the army the farthest that many Indian citizens go when it comes to such training (actually not even close to real military training) are when they participate in the NCC, Scouts, and Guides.

Who is better equipped to fight a terrorist? A person who has some military training or someone still thinking of "Gandhigari"? I am not against Gandhi's thoughts and ideals but wasn't it by force and violence that the terrorists were silenced? It need not always be a terrorist attack but it could be a robbery or a gang attack on your family, bank robbers in a bank, the situations are endless. With military training you are not left helpless. In several countries men could even be jailed trying to evade the compulsory military training. Military training is not the perfect solution against terrorism but it certainly makes a huge difference. Israel, an expert at dealing with such situations on foreign land (remember the operation in Uganda where their commandos freed their people from a plane hijacked by terrorists helped by the Idi Amin Government) even offered help to India during the attack and which I believe was denied.

2. The mind of the psychopathic terrorist.
Several years ago I watched a documentary of some young teens in the U.S, shown on one of those NPR/University Funded channels on TV. They were a bunch of about a dozen kids hanging around having nothing to do. These weren't kids that came from poor or homeless families. They were regular kids but they had absolutely nothing to do. They had no direction, skipped or left school woke up and went to sleep as they liked and dressed in ways they liked. They were all by themselves doing the things they wanted like having sex (some of the teens were as young as 14 years of age), drinking, using drugs, watching movies, going around to places they liked, sleeping over at friends' places even hanging out late in public places and stuff. For these kids, career, education, family, relationships (other than their friends), God or the beauty and values of life were absolutely missing in their lives. Similarly many terrorists aren't actually victims of torture and war. Many are doing what they are doing because their minds have been indoctrinated that way. Like the child soldiers of Sierra Leone they are displaced from their families when very young and are exposed to harsh brutalities of life such as rape, torture and murder to get their minds deranged. Others who are aware of these crimes are drugged to do them. It is believed that one of the terrorists in the Mumbai attacks was also on drugs.

I have a strange experience myself. Many years ago while studying at the Madras Chritian College and staying in the hostel during my final year I had the misfortune of befriending a guy from Djibouti. He was african and I noticed that he hardly had any friends. He also refused to be initiated in the Hostel because he didn't approve of the process of initiation. Other hostel mates just avoided him. I took pity on this chap and befriended him. He seemed like a perfectly nice guy until I took the topic of religion. The instant mental-transformation that he would undergo would be unbelievable. Tell him a thing like Lata Mangeshkar holds the Guiness record for the maximum number of songs sung by any singer and he would say that there is one guy in his country who has sung more than her. Anything even remotely simple that he would find challenging to his religion and he would start contradicting. It was like talking to a wall. Nothing would convince him. Many of these terrorists possess a mind as this. They are incorrigible and can never be convinced. Even if they are jailed or tortured I doubt whether they have the IQ and power of reasoning to even realize what they are doing. Their brains are simply twisted that way. I also know of another person who believes that there is a huge conspiracy by the entire world to blame his community for the bomings and acts of terrorism in the world.

Another thing but least talked about is "Identity Crisis". I recall in a T.V episode, when the students who killed their teacher were being interviewed in the U.S one of them replied that it was done solely "to get attention". Many people just get a kick out of it. I also recall during the Columbine Tragedy in the U.S one of the students that got killed was used to telling her classmates that she was Bruce Willis's daughter. Indentity crisis exists in various degrees in many people. To give an example Indians in a foreign country trying to speak their native tongue and that too loudly in public are suffering from a form of "Identity Crisis" too. Maybe the terrorists also wanted such a release.

And of course many terrorists like blaming someone else like a neighbouring country or an enemy or someone they hate as the reason for their suffering and these guys vent thier frustrations on an unsuspecting and innocent victim. But if this venting-out is going to solve their problems why aren't their problems never solved.

3. And finally on all the political parties that were wasting time and energy on frivolous things. Remember the political group in Maharashtra instigating their party people to throw out the non-Marathi's, asksing the Bachans to apologize for alleged anti-Marathi statements and such. If only they spent an infinitesimal amount of that wasted time on the welfare of the people of Bombay or mobilised some protection than blaming the government for everything, they would have won more people support. Where are they now? Why are they silent and what are they waiting for? Another silly scandal to boost their party image or get more votes?

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