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January 7, 2002

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Varsha Bhosle

That tired formula again...

Hi, guys! Here's wishing you a New Year full of self-respect and courage to assert yourself aggressively, for only then can happiness and prosperity have significance. Oops! This doesn't apply to The Great and the Good, of course; it's only for the sabre-rattling, jingoistic rah-rahs amongst us. So let's take a minute to pray that some day we see the folly of our blood-splattered ways and discern "the profoundest truth about war". Which is, war "dehumanises us". Duh. War causes devastation. Duh. War causes suffering. Duh. War is a "brutal, voracious monster". Oh dear... I've run out of 'duhs'.

No really, I spent quite some time pondering the pacifist mentality. Like, why is offering the other cheek held as a virtue? Why is compromise preferable to confrontation? What's it that makes the Wagah candle-holders tenderly embrace the jeers from across, and go back for more? How come they don't cringe in shame when their own prime minister is refused a salute from Pakistan's service chiefs? Why do they exhort the prime minister to extend a hand of friendship once again, to one of the very same service chiefs? I wonder, how do they see "dignity" in all this?

Only one example: Picture a remote Himalayan village; it's midnight and all is deathly still. Suddenly, Pakistani jihadis converge on the village, cordon it off and crash through the door of one house. The family recoils in fear. The mother runs to protect her children, but the jihadis open fire. The infant asleep in his crib and an 8-year-old boy in his bed are killed instantly. So are the mother and sister. The jihadis draw their knives and set to work on the Hindu householder. Eyes, ears, nose, limbs... the blood flowing out of the infant and the little boy and the two women intermingles with that of the man. His screams, as the animals torture him, ring throughout the village. Sated, the Pakis finally shoot him.

What makes the fate of a "frail woman crumpled on a Pedder Road doorstep with very little to cover her" worse than that of the family of Baldev Raj...? Successions of tortured, bleeding, dying Hindus and Sikhs lying on roads and in ditches... are these reports not familiar to most Indians? How many of these Wagah candle-holders keep a tally of the Indians massacred by Pakis? How many bother to fully read the *daily* items titled -- and these are recent headlines -- "Militants Kill 15 in Kashmir Attacks", "Kashmir women shot dead in J&K", "Militants kill four women in J&K", "4 soldiers killed in suicide attack on J&K Army camp", "2 priests, 5 members of a family killed in J&K", "Militants attack Army convoy; 13 killed", "Militants gun down eight of wedding party", "Judge, bodyguards gunned down in Kashmir", "Massacred family's survivor also shot dead in Mendhar"?

Thing is, death by terrorism has become a mundane feature. Death by terrorism ain't a thing to touch our oh-so-compassionate professional liberals.

The ISI has sponsored terrorists in the northeast states ("Northeast rebels aided by Al Qaeda"; "ISI behind subversive acts in Bengal: CM Buddha"). Augmenting that is the potent nexus existing between the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist on the one hand, and Andhra Pradesh's People's War Group and Bihar's Maoist Communist Centre on the other. Too, the PWG has close links with the LTTE. And the ISI has a virtually free run of Bangladesh and openly runs training camps for terrorist groups like ULFA and NLFT.

What else but an enormous crisis is the threat that terrorism poses every day to millions -- not just 542, but millions -- of Indian lives? Why have we tolerated this crisis for two decades and more? Even today, POTO is obstructed because it will deal harshly with... terrorists. Such, then, are our liberals.

It is the easiest thing to moan and groan and write florid prose on Poverty. The pre-packaged formula -- "imploring, ragged beggars", "scrawny boy rummaging for food in a pile of garbage" -- wins international prizes all the time (after all, guess who the judges are). Hark back to the output of the Bengali communist filmmakers, even those of Bollywood. Not a formula, you say? But as is obvious, mere formulae yield zip. Poverty will continue to exist in nations tormented by external aggression, internal turmoil and idiotic fiscal policies -- in our case, all being the legacy of the socialist Jawaharlal Nehru.

However, it is easier still to wave our white handkerchiefs and encourage the base don't-beat-me-I'll-bend-over-and-sell-my-country emotions amongst the public (yes, jingoists believe that diversity of feeling does and should exist). That's what our nukkad liberals do. All of them, bar none, hold that writers and journalists have a more "responsible" role to play, regardless of the will of the public. Which begs the question, why ask this public for its opinion during elections? But never mind, let's not short-circuit the liberals' thinking facilities.

Sure enough, I got mail beating me up for the call to war. A few put forth pertinent objections -- which I appreciate and will deal with next time -- while the bulk consisted of idiot attacks. One sample: Since I openly call for war, would I send my son to fight? I have to admit, this floored me like none other. Not by the venom behind it, but by the cheap and discriminatory non-rationale that liberals posses in abundance. Question: Are the captains and majors of the Indian Army orphans? Don't they have mothers who send them to war? Why would I seem different from those mothers -- especially to a person who knows me only through my defence-conservative columns...?

What's operating here is a preconceived notion about moi, having zero to do with my output. Which is why I mention "captains and majors" and not "jawans". In the liberal mindset, any Indian who can, ahem, write good English, lives in a metropolis, and is well off can't possibly contribute to the war effort by sending a son or daughter to war. Meaning, all those thousands of urban mothers who do send their sons to fight should really be shown the One True Path. Such, then, are the perceptions of people who play "a responsible role" in this democracy.

If these peace-lovers had truly heard the people, they wouldn't be pushing for yet another compromise of India's security. Last week, Thane saw the biggest enlistment of men into the army. One youth said, "I had long nursed an ambition to join the army." Another, a diploma holder in textile engineering, ditto. The Hindustan Times reported that men are swamping the Delhi cantonment: "Having figured out that the situation on the border is grave and the threat to India real, they want to enlist in the army and fight for the country." These are the people why India is still afloat -- no thanks to the labours of Marx-spewing, socialite journalists.

But, the malevolence fostered by certain ideologies cannot be suppressed: In the next breath, the HT reporter opined: "The rush to enlist in what continues to be a largely peasant army is caused as much by rural unemployment as patriotic fervour." All that the young men had said was: "Desh seva" and "Hum border par jaane ke liye utaavle hain." Amit Kumar, the 18-year-old son of Rajendra Singh of 19 RajRif, who was killed while fighting "insurgents" (how can we possibly call Paki jihadis "terrorists"?), proudly said, "My mother brought me here personally to enlist." Does any of this indicate "rural unemployment" as the cause for enlistment...? Such, then, are the ethics guiding the "responsible role".

I revert to the nation far, far superior to ours: Yups, the US is superior because of "the wealth of opinion and debate, the celebration of dissent, the fundamentally democratic idea that every voice must and will be heard". America's once hefty network news audience has now fled to cable. In 1994, 51% of television sets were tuned in to CBS, NBC or ABC; by mid-2001, it was down to 43%. Fox News, which delivers news without tilting left or right, is one of the chief beneficiaries of this exodus; its prime time ratings are higher than or tie those of CNN. Thing is, liberals have labelled Fox News as a "bastion of political conservatism". Point is, the losing networks are beset by players of "a responsible role". When Americans were given a choice, look what they chose.

Question: Will the Indian public -- in liberal parlance, "rabble", "mob", "peasants"; actually, anybody who refuses to lean Left -- be permitted to have a channel/newspaper founded on, let alone political conservatism, a policy that shuns this "responsible role"...? Don't make me laugh. We can't stem the "responsible role" even our Eminent Historians have been playing ever since Nehru dumped his rank ideology on us. America is superior because its pinkos are kept on a tight leash -- all talk-talk, no influence in governance. The "responsible role" business is why India is still groping to find strength and a sense of national identity and resolve. Just one look through Pakistani newspapers will demonstrate how their regular contributors, the Praful Bidwais and Kuldip Nayars and Tapan Boses, augment the rot.

The latest bee in the liberal beret is the blow to "people-to-people contact". This great national calamity is portrayed la "The grief stricken faces of ordinary Pakistanis and the Indian citizens on board the last train and the last bus... demonstrate the absolute power our politicians and bureaucrats wield on us." No matter that Samayuddin, the Indian spying for the ISI, admitted he was a sawari operator on the Samjhauta Express, and from whom documents about the movement of Indian Army troops were recovered -- which documents were about to be carried to Pakistan aboard the last train. All the news channels, too, have been swamped with scenes of crying Pakis at Attari. Do you ever recall this much footage on the crying relatives of the people massacred in Kashmir...?

Yeah, it's been puke-time all through. My one happy moment came when I read a mail from, of all the people, an employee of rediff.com, whom I don't know. Wrote Shishir: "It is not always that I find my views coinciding with your opinions... However, your latest column on why India should go to war with Pak finds me in total agreement with you. A lot of my relatives are serving air force and army officers and when I try to sell them a pacifist line saying, 'We should give away Kashmir, it'll help stop the killings,' they turn almost violent. Each one of them, bar none, says: 'What bullshit! We should take over PoK, too, not talk of giving away what is indisputably ours!' My thoughts have since been moulded in a manner where I feel they are right. India perhaps must be the only nation in the world that can be bullied by a pipsqueak banana republic. Our media -- and though I am very much a part of it -- has been too 'fair-minded'... I think this makes us look like pitiable fools... I just say: Let's bomb the hell out of Pakistan and all those terrorists it harbours."

This should answer the dweeb who wrote, "It is hard to believe that officers worth their salt even talk to persons like you, let alone discuss defence strategy... I come from a family several members of which serve in the Indian defence forces and not one of them worth their salt would bandy words with a person of your monumental stupidity and brackish vulgarity." After which, dweeb wrote his name and added "MD". Like, that's gonna overawe me, LOL! Rajesh, the defence services also harbour people like Vishnu Bhagwat and Rajbeer Singh.

Varsha Bhosle

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