April 7, 2010

Today’s newspaper is easily the gloomiest I have seen in a long time. The main headlines read as follows – Maoists kill 76 in savage attack; China hacks into (India’s) defense systems; D-Company gave logistics for 26/11; Sania marriage may be put off.

Barring the silly article on whether Sania Mirza will marry Pakistani cricket Shoaib Mallik or not, the other three articles are cause for concern as they point to an India that is on attack from the outside and inside.

A few days ago the central government fired the first salvo when Home Minister P. Chidambaram went into Maoist territory, spoke to villagers there, and then called the Maoists cowards in his press briefing. The move was universally welcomed, including yours truly. The Naxals have increasingly become the one major road block in getting development to the more remote areas in at least four states on the eastern side. As the rest of the country gets on the IT/ITES bandwagon and moves from abject poverty to some semblance of prosperity, the Naxal-controlled areas remain backward and inaccessible to the any sort of development. What is most worrying is that after Mr. Chidambaram’s salvo the CRPF did not seem to expect the backlash. How else do you explain an entire company of jawans walking into an ambush? Given the strength of Mr. Chidambaram’s words it should have been expected that the Naxals would hit back, if for nothing else but to prove that they are not cowards. By hitting an armed contingent of army-trained jawans, they did just that.

Then there is the news that D-Company was part of the 26/11 attacks. This hardly comes as a surprise. The underground is nothing more than a group of thugs that live off the main economy like parasites. The have neither patriotism nor sense of decency and only understand the language of violence. It is high time our politicians and police forces understand that these outfits must be rooted out and crime must carry a cost.

Both the Naxals and the underworld thrive on fear. As elected representatives of the people, the politicians must create an atmosphere where the police feel confident to take on the criminal elements in society and allow for a fearless life for the citizens.

If we have failed on the internal front, on the external front we our performance is dismal. Time and again China has acted the big bully and we have been able to do precious little. Their army crosses the border and occupies Indian land. This latest news that Chinese hackers have been reading Indian defense and foreign-affairs documents like we read the newspaper online is very disturbing. The Internet and the computer are fabulous tools to bring good governance to the people. But while moving to the Internet, it is also important that we secure the information we put there. In a country that thrives on the business brought in by IT, it is surprising that we have not understood and planned for protecting the information that we put there.

In the end, the whole thing is about being prepared. Time and again India and her various institutions have proved that we are not prepared for any eventuality. We do not seem to be able to read the situations ahead of us correctly or we just live in a world where we expect the best rather than the worst to happen. This attitude by the government does not in any way instill a sense of security and safety in the minds of the people.

Prosperity is all very good, but prosperity without security is as good as no prosperity at all. A look around the world will show the veracity of that observation. The Indian government needs to wake up and see the real picture; then she needs to set out on a war footing to prepare to defend her people and her spaces.

As for Sania, if she thinks that a liar is the best she can do for herself, all the best to her.



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