4 Dec 2008

Look who's talking

One-upmanship in Indian Media and other issues

Manmohan Singh, our honorable Prime Minister had asked the Leader of opposition to accompany him to Mumbai to take the stock, post-terrorist attack. However, Advaniji could not wait for a couple of hours or so and decided to venture out himself, hence deliberately missing a chance to show a much needed united political front to the world and people at home at such an hour. Siege was not yet over but how could the opposition miss such a golden opportunity. So we had advertisements by the BJP in the newspapers in the run up to the Delhi Assembly elections asking the people to vote the 'soft on terror' Congress government out of power.
All these developments were keenly reported by our electronic media accusing the political parties of trying to reap the benefit even out of such a grave situation.
Well politics is politics. It was nothing new. However, I believe that the political parties showed a lot of restraint this time around as there was very little if any blame game. It might have happened because the whole political system, rather any particular political outfit was put under a big question mark this time by the media and the public. I'll come back to this later on.
Those accusing the political parties were not able to reflect upon themselves, the way they went about doing their duty. In their pursuit to one-upmanship, the different news agencies tried to gather information from only God-knows, what all sources and those which lacked such sources cooked up information, rather disinformation by themselves. We had these channels showing the same video footage, serving the same news reports but claiming their exclusive access to them. It was an amusing but disturbing scenario too. After seeing the initial reaction by the different channels, I was expecting them to set an example for our political classes by coming forward in a unison and maybe initiating a concerted campaign for accountability and reforms. But as the time passed, none of them took an initiative in this direction and even if someone did take, as far as we can see nothing materialized in that case. Moreover, Admiral Mehta also questioned their integrity while reporting minute to minute operation details. Through satellite phones, the masters of the terrorists could have, rather might have passed on these crucial information bytes to them. Its high time our media behave in a matured manner.
Listening to various public opinions on these channels, I was really amused(and again disturbed) by most of them. People believe war is the solution to everything. Haven't they seen what a war has done to people of Iraq and Afghanistan. The idea of our country going on a war to teach the lesson to other belligerent nations does fill me with a zeal too. I am proud of our victories in 1962, 1971 and 1999. However, can we forget those who perished in these wars and could never ring the victory bells. As I have said earlier, War is not a solution. Limited war and precision strikes can be of tactical significance, part of an overall strategy but an all-out war is a big no-no. Terrorism can not be contained by targeting nations. Non-state actors(LeT) might have received help from certain section(Intelligence Services, Military Establishment or the Democratic Government) of a State(Pakistan) as might have happened this time. However, its important to engage that state in negotiations and try and build international pressure on it so that it yields and cooperate. If nothing happens, some illegitimate means can be employed. For that purpose RAW has to be strengthened. Talking in crude terms, if we know where Dawood is, then why not just shoot him at his home. What good will it serve to extradite him to India and waste the time of our over-burdened courts in bringing him to justice. Let him face the 'natural' justice. However, to do this we must have the capabilities to match with CIA, MI-6 or Mossad. Even if we have to target terrorist camps within Pakistan or PoK territory, we have to comprehend a lot of variables as we can't afford it if such an action escalates the tensions beyond the saturation point. Do not forget, both the countries are nuclear-enabled.
For a common man to understand these intricacies is difficult, hence media should not fan such emotions. Barkha Dutt rightly objected to the comments of one of the yester-year actress and a TV show host, who was all praises for U.S. action post-9/11 and wanted an all-out war with Pakistan.
Moreover, as said in the earlier post, we have to work on our internal security. If we keep our boundaries porous and our home vulnerable, we are doing a disservice to ourselves. That should be the first priority. It was pathetic to see the way our men had to fight 59 hours to free the Taj of the 4 terrorists. We are spending money in developing Defense capabilities, then why not internal security. G.P.S. system, spy robots, etc could have been employed to track their exact positions but where were all these technologies and gadgets. Kapil Sibbal debating (not as a politician but a common man, as per his assertion) on a NDTV Profit show, himself admitted that our establishment never thought of developing such capabilities. Now that's abysmal. Even more shocking is to see our vulnerable policemen with lathis or outdated ammunition and with no protective bullet proof jackets fighting those desperadoes who carried AK-47's and grenades. Where are the police reforms. We have been hearing about them since time immemorial. Manmohan Singh has promised a Federal Agency but as rightly said by the BJP, it should also be given the teeth through proper legislation.
Another thing which disturbed me was people questioning our democracy. As far as political system is concerned there are many shortcomings in it which made me ask the question 'why should i vote' in an earlier post. However, i could ask such a question only because i have the right to vote. Seeing the bravery of our NSG, Army and Marine commandos, some people started flirting with the idea of having an Army rule. Just see in your neighbourhood on both east and west that what havoc such a system has brought to the liberties of their people.
So to sum it up, we all should have faith in our democracy and make the best use of it to pressurize the Government to take concrete steps to ensure our fundamental right to live without any fear. As much as our political parties, our media should refrain from one-upmanship and play their important roles in strengthening our democracy which will enable us to thwart any danger from without or within.

Image Courtesy
http://iamsumeet.com (original)

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