Monday, December 01, 2008

Resignation remedy for Mumbai Terror Attacks

Yesterday was a field day of resignations and resignation offers in Indian politics and bureaucracy. First of all, let me summarize this post before I start - I welcome Mr.Shivraj Patil’s resignation.

Home Minister Mr. Shivraj Patil hesitantly offered to resign and his offer was gleefully accepted by the Prime Minister and the President of India. Taking a cue from this, National Security Adviser Mr. M.K. Narayanan stood up, with a resignation letter in his hand but his resignation was dutifully rejected and he was asked to remain seated. During the CWC meeting which took place yesterday, Defense Minister Mr. A.K. Antony, Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee dramatically offered to resign when their respective departments were put under the hawk’s eye for their (lack of) efficiency and all three offers were conveniently ignored by the rest of the lot.

If resignation is the solution to all our problems, all of us Indians should try resigning from whatever posts we hold and see what happens. We all know that is not the case and this is not the answer we are looking for. Then why did I say I welcome Mr. Shivraj Patil’s resignation? Because I want to see it as a change in the way the Indian politicians function. I want to see this as an instance of a politician being held accountable for his actions (or the lack of them). Accountability is a very crucial and utmost important aspect painstakingly missing in our politicians and bureaucrats.

“With great power comes great responsibility” said Uncle Ben to one Peter we all know. Indian politicians are a breed which are blessed with immense power but are not responsible for anything. They abuse their powers to lead a posh lifestyle and enjoy all the comforts they can get, bend each and every rule in the book to their and their kin’s advantage, indulge in unchecked bribery and are still protected from the clutches of the law on account of their authority and power.

  • The PWD Minister is not accountable for the sad state of our roads.
  • The Home Minister is not accountable for the unchecked rise in crime in our cities. He and the Internal Affairs Minister are not responsible for the recurring terror attacks.
  • The Defense Minister is not accountable for the miss on the military’s part in guarding our nation.
  • The Education Minister is not accountable for the sad state of affairs in our government schools.
  • The Prime Minister is not accountable for any of the above even though he is supposed to oversee, control and direct all of them.

The system is so bad that the general public does not even expect these politicians to be accountable.

  • When these same set of incompetent, partisan and corrupt politicians come begging for our votes in the next election, we happily elect him/her without sparing a moment to think about his/her accomplishments or credentials.
  • We are so used to being held up, waiting in hour long traffic jams just to see one of these ministers speeding by through a free way, often to attend some private function.
  • We are content and raise no questions when we see these politicians enjoy state sponsored trips abroad accompanied by a battalion of his clan complete with his grandson and puppy.
  • We do not raise any questions when we see a pauper becoming a billionaire after joining politics.
  • We do not raise any questions when we see crores getting spent on the politician’s birthday and when even more crores are spent on erecting these beggar’s statues across the state.
“Every nation gets the kind of leaders it deserves” said some Wiseman. So are we to be blamed for the sad state of our nation? Is it our fault that we don’t demand anything better from these politicians? Is it our fault that we are ready to put up with their incompetency forever? These are questions which does not have easy answers.

This is the background from which I say I welcome Mr. Shivraj Patil’s resignation. Not as a symbolic gesture or as a face saving measure for the government. But as a strong message that we won’t tolerate incompetence anymore. We want people who are responsible and are accountable. A Home Minister should not be allowed to get away with excuses like “I didn’t know about the terror attacks”, “I will tackle it next time”, “Why am I the only one responsible” and so on. At the best, he can give the excuse “I was caught unaware this time, I will make sure it does not happen again” on the very first time. But not again and again, week after week. There have been more than 10 brutal terror attacks this very year and he cannot just go on parroting his rehearsed speech every time, without even rearranging sentences. Hopefully this is going to be a new beginning when we start expecting the politicians to start delivering.

Now that dust has settled on Mr. Shivraj Patil, here are the rest of the lot whom I would like to see quitting, for the same reasons of incompetence and lack of accountability.

Mr. R.R. Patil, deputy CM and Home Minster of Maharashtra.
For issuing the statement “…small things like this happen in big cities…”. He belittled the effort and struggle of the police officers and NSG commandos who lost their life, he doesn't value the lives of innocent men and women who were killed in the melee and he just could not comprehend the seriousness of the situation. On one hand he could do nothing to avert this incident, or do something to take control and expedite the counter attack, and when everything has settled down, he has the audacity to come up and make such an atrocious statement which hurts millions of us. I do not think we the general public agree with the sentiment he expressed. Since he is a complete misfit, show him the door.

Mr. Vilas Rao Deshmukh, CM of Maharashtra
Mr. Vilas Rao Deshmukh should be kicked out for denying that there was intelligence reports about a possible attack on Mumbai. Either he is not being informed about what is happening to his state by his colleagues in his government, in which case he does not deserve to continue. If that is not the case, either he is lying or the RAW spokesperson is lying. One of them must go. We want our politicians to be accountable for their actions or at the very least for their words. They should not be allowed to get away with blabbering about anything and everything without checking the authenticity of the information they pass on and often blatantly lying.

Mr Deshmukh also had the audacity to tour around the Taj, after all the action was over, accompanied by his actor son and the film director Mr. Ram Gopal Varma. How could these people from the film industry be included in the official team which visited Taj? Doesn’t the incident expose the seriousness the CM gave for the official visit of a spot which shocked the entire nation?

The authority who should take action on a security tip off by the RAW or the RAW spokesperson.
Either the RAW spokesperson lied to us when he said his agency had passed on security warnings or the authority which is supposed to take action ignored the warnings. One of them must go. First of all, these people could not protect our motherland from being attacked, and when it happened, they are trying to pass the blame on to someone else. Make them accountable for their words at least. As a next step, we can make them accountable for their actions.

The coast guard officers who intercepted the terrorist vessel.
They are plain incompetent in carrying out their duty. If terrorists can fool them and get past them, then what are they getting paid for? If they were as effective as a bunch of village lasses in stopping a terrorist ship even after intercepting it, then why were they given the training to do their jobs? I am not asking for their resignation. Let them understand what their duties are, get necessary training and be truthful to their job.

And last but not the least, all the media persons who made this entire incident into a sop serial.
I have kept this to the very last so that I can elaborate on this. These are the people who think they are the modern Messiahs of India, but they are the ones who should be reprimanded and berated the most. What happened in Mumbai from Nov 26th to 29th was a national tragedy. It is not the time for these bastards to increase their TRPs with some irrelevant, inaccurate and inappropriate coverage and reporting. It was not a cricket test match to be telecasted live across the globe. There has to be some guidelines and restraint in place when they are covering a national tragedy.

Why should they telecast live images from the site of the adversity? It is not an action movie. Lives of hundreds of innocent men and women were trapped inside. Who is it going to help, except for the terror groups which are spread around the globe planning their next attack? Will the relatives of the people trapped inside the hotel be any more comfortable hearing about the barbaric acts committed by the terrorists? Who was supposed to enjoy the sight of the building going up in flames in front of their eyes? What we are looking for is actual news and details about the people who are rescued and are still trapped inside. I don’t think a reporter doing some bloody drama of crawling on the floor while jabbering away to glory will be of any comfort to the viewers across the globe.

And these very media men are betraying our commandos and army men who risked their lives to rescue the hostages, when the exact details, strength and movements of the commandos were telecasted real time. Don’t tell me that the TV lines to the hotel were cut, because that does not deter the terrorists from getting information through satellite phones from their accomplices spread around the world. Don’t tell me that they were not divulging military secrets and were misleading the terrorists, as the situation did not look like it was under anybody’s control for him to marshal the information being passed on to the media. Media was sneaking into unnecessary details and trying to create panic among onlookers and sensationalize the issue.

Some specific set of people from the media for whom I have specific questions to ask.

The reporters who reported that there was firing in the CST station on the second day afternoon and the presenters who presented that news on “Your Channel”s. The reporters should resign their jobs and opt for manual labor as they lack competency for anything else. They substantiated a baseless rumor and sent shockwaves to thousands. What if people had reacted violently? What if there was a stampede in or around CST station? What if there was a communal riot because of that news? The presenters who screamed that news at the top of their voice should apologize on air and admit that “Your Channel”s screwed up big time.

The presenter and reporter who were hypothesizing on a theory about who it could be when they showed a man falling out of a window. Initially they reported that it was a terrorist being thrown out. Then they corrected themselves and said it was a commando getting out. After sometime the original story was repeated again. We are not seeing a horse race or a football match for the commentator to bet and hypothesize. Report it if you know what had happened, else keep your trap shut. Nobody expects you to take educated or calculated or whatever else guesses. Neither the channel is paying you nor the viewer is watching the channel to see you gamble and bet amongst yourself and fool general public.

Bakra Dutt - For hanging out there most of the time and coming up with utter nonsensical statements every once in a while. I just want to mention your winding up speech when everything was getting over. You managed to get a set of local chaps to surround you, wave at the camera and push and pull eachother to be on air. It looked as if they were a set of spectators at a T20 cricket ground. Unfortunately in this great country, you get dime a dozen to gather around you and smile at you if you have a TV camera pointed at you. That doesn’t mean you have to capitalize on it and show the world how immature Indians are. You were prompting them to jump around you, cheer, applaud and shake hands with the tired commandos who were waiting inside the buses. It was a shame to see the way a set of mumbaikers monkeying around, dancing to the tunes of a TV reporter.

I feel it is high time we have some guidelines on what the Media can cover and what they cannot. Media should verify each and every sentence before it is aired, especially in troubled times. There should not be any live coverage of national calamities. Army and commandos should be the ones who control a catastrophe hit area, not brain-dead camera-wielding journalists and reporters. Aim of the media should be to pass accurate information in the form of news bulletins every once in a while, and not in covering it live with all the gory details.

PS: As somebody rightly pointed out, the morons with the Thackeray sir-name don’t even deserve a mention when we talk about serious issues concerning Mumbai. They are absolute lunatics who should have been chained years ago. So skipping those jokers.