2006, circa 1984

I have never read George Orwell’s 1984, a supposedly-prophetic novel about a Big Brother watching over the citizens of the United good ol’ Kingdom. Published way back in 1949 (though – and this is strictly for trivia buffs – he started it in 1945 titled ‘The Last Man in Europe’) it spoke of a dystopian – which is literally a place of bad things, euphemistically considered the antithesis of utopia – society where a person’s each and every move is monitored. The book is supposed to be a classic of its genre, and those who have read it swear it is an honour well attributed.

My first recollection of a modern-day analogy to Orwell’s work was – is – the United States of America. When the WTC towers crashed down, so did some of their constitutional tenets of privacy, freedom, yada yada… and I base this, I admit, not on my absent personal experiences – but on what I’ve read, what I’ve seen and what Michael Moore managed to get past his censor boards. Thus, even this is a second-hand experience at best.

Cycle forward to 2006 Anna Domini.

July 11 saw a series of blasts question the government’s efficiency in fulfilling its principal task, vis, the protection of its citizens. I’ll spare you the cliches which have gone around ad nauseum, and I am sure I do not have to point out the statistics of what happened.

However, the government’s response is an example of how – and I suppose historians will agree with the similarity – Nero could stand by playing his fiddle (in other words, fiddling?) while Rome burned. Of course, those who pride themselves on being secular might find umbrage in the usage that they coined specifically for Gujarat’s Narendra Modi. (Granted, it was a Court which made the observation – and this was probably the last time the affairs of that court were published in the media)

Returning to the subject of fiddlers fiddling in pedantary (so I learnt a few new words… lemme use them where I can) one can hardly find a better specimen than this government – nor a better practitioner than the (acting) PM. Sample the following.

MS (Three hours after the blast) Explosions have taken place in Mumbai. We are looking into it. The criminals will be brought to justice.

MS (Next day. Perhaps sleep cleared his head somewhat) We are sure that terrorists were responsible for this. Our investigative agencies will find out who they are.

MS (A few hours later) Nothing at this time, thank you. After my discussion with Madam Soniaji, I may have more information for you.

MS (48 hours after the blast) Terrorists from outfits like LeT or JeM may be responsible for the tragedy. They could have been aided by people outside our borders.

MS (a week later) If Pakistan does not reduce terrorism, we will have to reconsider moving ahead with our peace process.

MS (9 days later) Deport Dawood.

The last statement seems kind of funny. Why do we need to import Dawood – I mean, there are enough criminals in Parliament and the Legislative Assembly already. And I am sure Madam Soniaji would hardly want to replace a ‘flexible’ character in place with one whose megalomania and destructiveness is well-documented.

Seriously, though, one has to consider the implications of such a request. Does anybody in the MEA believe, even slightly, that Pakistan is going to hand over ‘the Don’ – snap, just like that – after insisting since 1993 (the first Mumbai Blasts) that he was nowhere in the country? The exact point of his presence may be unknown, but his influence is tangible, to put it mildly. He provides the framework that binds the godforsaken (though they may claim the opposite) terrorists’ networks, the established Military junta and political affiliations with money, manpower and most importantly, intel through his various contacts still in India.

That the man is powerful is beyond question. That he is in Pakistan is moot. That he fashions himself a Sheik in the Islamic – and to hell with PC – war on infidels is a well-publicised fact.

That the Indian governments – past and present, Democratic and Progressive – have been spineless is a well-kept secret. It is one everyone knows, but no one wants to talk about. If it is easy for me to sit here and say it – and undeniably it is – it probably is just as easy for some pencil-pusher or some caste-pusher to ask the Army to assemble a mission with the sole objective of eliminating one man the world could easily survive without.

But the buck should not stop there. Behind every terror attack is an ulterior motive that is hidden behind the more obvious religious propaganda. In the case of 9/11, it was the CIA’s desire to keep itself relevant in the post-Soviet world by screwing up America’s systematic check-and-balances approach. Chehcnya, some argue, is KGB’s excuse for reincarnation as the FSB. The Naxals in the Indian Red Belt are aided by Chinese machinery in destabilising the region. And the LTTE needs hawks like Kumaratunge to feed its war machine – and vice versa.

In the case of Pakistan’s proxy war (or should we chuck PC and call it for what it is – a coward’s idea of a battle long lost but still fought) it is always in the Pakistani ruling classes’ interest – whether poilitical, dynastic or military – to divert attention from the state, cost and standard of living of its citizenry. The ISI is their version of Big Brother, and in manners reminiscent of gruff Soviet executions made so popular by Bond, James Bond, exercises a firm control over everything that is done. And the very mention of Sharia makes such excesses sacrosanct.

This is an analysis that should have occurred to every person who has ever been a member of the National Security Council, the IB, RAW and AI. If it has not, it points to an appalling failure to simplify the obvious.

What can the government do? Again, I offer a simplistic solution – counterstrikes. But not against the innocent populace. For every strike in India – no matter where, no matter how – take out a member of the top echelons of the ISI and/or the Pakistani Army.

Instead, what do our guiding souls do?

Hem and haw for over a week.

Try to be politically correct.

Ask for an increase in quotas.

Ask for increases in salaries.

And to top it all off, blog all the blocks… I mean, blog all the blogs. I mean, block all the blogs.

Not surprising, when you consider the fact that Dayanidhi Maran is the minister responsible for IT. The guy makes mafiosos look legitimate.

When I resurrected this blog, I changed – and I don’t suppose anybody noticed – the tagline. It was much before the blogs were blogged (sic), but after the last few days, it kinda seems prophetic.

What next? Pull all channels other than Sun News (for those out of the loop, Dayanidhi Maran’s brother Kalanidhi is the CEO and part-owner of the Sun Network) for false reporting? Return to Indira’s days when she edited (not literally, of course) each and every newspaper? Now that there is no longer a Goenka – just a N (for nothing) Ram of the Hindu and a Shaken Gupta of the Indian Express – and with the rest of the media mostly a bunch of bigoted and/or amoral misfits, running India with an iron fist should not prove much trouble.

An iron fist, a long cane and a few harsh measures are necessary in the long haul against insidious elements operating both within and without the borders. What India needs now is a strong leadership, a long-term vision and the commitment to work towards it.

Unfortunately, I can’t trust this government with even boiling water. For obvious reasons.