(Published in The Huffington Post India: http://www.huffingtonpost.in/shaira-mohan/ )
I seem to remember growing up in a different, more normal India.
I was born in the late 1980s – a time when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister of India – a time when cell phones and social media were still unborn and the only ‘trolls’ we knew of were in our bedtime stories.
It was a time when educating your children – both sons and daughters – on the importance of respecting women and all animals took precedence over such atrocities of today as the cow being deemed sacred enough to kill for.
It was a time when the words of the National Pledge, “India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters..” were printed on the first page of every school diary and recited religiously in schools and on streets with ardent belief and meaning.
That India I talk of seems to have got lost a long time ago, buried in the sands of a tumultuous decade in Indian governance that has now given rise to its uglier, more unjust twin.
Yes, I will use the word ‘unjust’ and not intolerant. For I am concerned not about who has become more tolerant and who intolerant but rather how and why we as a country have become so unjust and unsavoury towards our own.
The injustice started with Salman Khan’s acquittal and the juvenile rapist’s walk to freedom. It continued when a man was beaten to death for allegedly consuming beef which was later disproved and Narendra Modi was silent.
Injustice is a new normal in our country today and unfortunately it starts with our prime minister who is as fervent and enthusiastic in his speeches, compliments and promises abroad as he is silent in pressing matters back home.
My vote was with Narendra Modi in the grand elections of 2014 that saw him become victorious in a landslide win. Seduced by the promise of change, progress, growth and improvements in many aspects of governance, Indians as a whole, tired of the Congress’s decade long stalemate brand of governance with our ever-silent Prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at the time, eagerly put their fingers on the BJP’s flower logo and voted for change.
Then came the foreign trips and FDI investments rolling in which personally I support fully and continue to do so. The need and importance of such investments for the country’s future are quite clear. What has been a disappointment and continues to be is how our esteemed PM has stayed mum repeatedly on very serious and scathing issues like the Dadri Lynching induced by the meat ban that only scored more points for the power of religion to divide us down the middle and now the recent terror attacks in Pathankot raising serious questions and suspicions on the intentions of even the likes of the SP of our own Punjab Police and an evidently monumental failure in the use of advance intelligence at their disposal beforehand, allowing repeated attacks to occur despite announcements being made that the terrorists have all been neutralized and all is well again.
What they don’t realise is that all can never be well on the Indo-Pak battleground as things stand today.
As another author rightly points out, what of resources that surely must have been imperative in an operation like this – sniffer dogs for example. Diplomacy with Pakistan and birthday breakfasts can only be applauded when they are followed by a step-up in relations and peace talks. Being hopefuls and impressed with a never-before done move towards amity with his recent fly-by handshake, we applauded Modi’s impromptu breakfast move.
And then we got served the bombing of Pathankot for dessert.
Only the umpteenth in a series of uncalled for attacks and ceasefire violations. Recent events only testify that diplomacy needs to be shelved and the time has come for immediate play on the offence. How long are we as citizens in the cross hairs of this repeated coup of catastrophe and corruption going to sit in a corner and worry about getting on that next train, flight or waking up to the news of the loss of more of our own? The worry is not as much about the enemy as it is about how competently our own leaders and defence forces can keep us safe from them.
Mr. Prime Minister, I hope you have now shelved any plans of future such breakfasts and dinners. The gunshots in Pathankot continued for days after our first Jawan was shot down and I hope you don’t wait for the eleventh hour to strike back. What is appalling is you were too busy tweeting about Yoga in the midst of this national emergency. Leaders and ministers talk the big talk about ‘befitting replies’ and punching back but so far we have only been on the defence and our replies have only been reactionary at best.The time has come for pro-active, offensive measures. If this is delayed further, it will be another grave injustice to your own country that is in need of a real leader and a hands-on captain of a ship on shaky waters.