Thursday, December 4, 2008

let's not turn into the people we despise

It's not splayed in the media, but the terror attacks in Mumbai have claimed casualties way beyond the wildest expectations of the people who planned them.

Callousness, apathy and a mere baap ka kya jaata hai attitude are definite victims. You can see it in the mails and text messages people are forwarding. You can measure it in the rage you can sense all around you.

I have no evidence to support this on a larger scale, but computer games, page 3 anecdotes and shallow witticisms seem to be seriously injured too. The intellectually endowed among us are turning away from these activities and aiming their considerable resources at topics like the political system, national security and ummm the country. You can see that shift in the changed focus of newspapers and blogs.

Getting the attention of thousands of consciences is a great start. Now that running the country is no longer beneath our dignity or status, we are now free to go beyond indifferent shrugs towards positive steps.

With the collective might of all those grey cells, we could even hope for real robust solutions.

Through the haze of shock and anger, solutions do seem to be sprouting up. Perhaps because it is early days, or because I have no expertise in the areas of governance, security and politics, here’s what I am taking out of the solutions I’ve seen in the last week (yes, I did say apathy was a victim, I’ve read more blogs and articles on the nation in the last week than I have in my life before that).

To fight outlaws, let’s turn into outlaws too. Let’s teach those terrorists and corrupt politicians who break laws a lesson by breaking a few laws ourselves.

Let’s put our pleasures above the legal system: Let’s drink beyond closing hours, let’s smoke in no smoking zones, let’s spend our tax money on presents for ourselves. Now all those people who bump up their personal incomes by taking bribes will have competition.

Let’s show ‘em by lighting candles and going for long walks: Let’s indulge in actions that make us feel as though we're doing something. It doesn't matter if our actions don't really achieve anything or if they underline how small and helpless we are against a system. Politicians and bureaucrats have done that for years with their lip service and tree planting drives, why not us?

But I’m not discouraged by this, as this feels like the beginning of a giant brainstorm. To complicate things, most of the participants have no prior experience in the topics they’re addressing.

In spite of some of the false starts, well intentioned non-ideas and idealistic bubbles, it’s just a matter of time before practical and unique ideas start glimmering through.

I ran across one that sparkled for me this morning. Civil Obedience has practical steps that I can take, without feeling like a pygmy fly against a giant swatter. Or without becoming one of the people I want to fight.

Thanks Rahul, for a great post.


  1. Just like you I have read innumerable blogs on the topic in hand and have to admit 'Civil Obedience' made a lot of sense to me. We as citizens need to be more responsible in our daily lives.

  2. Hi, I posted a comment on that blog 'Civil Obedience'. I think it is a little muddled, but thats' what I am over the issue right now. But I think writing about what I feel, and reading about other opinions will help shape thoughts, so I am writing.

  3. i agree mala! i am sure there is a lot that needs to be done at a macro level as well, but this seems to be a good way to start.

    kedar, i think we're all a bit muddled... i certainly am.