Sunday, November 30, 2008

Terrorist attack on Mumbai

In the perspective of what has just happened I think it is time now that India tackled this menace proactively. We have to now to learn from Israel and follow its methods. After the slaughter of its athletes in the Munich Olympics, Israel constituted a team to eliminate each and everyone of the terrorists involved directly or indirectly. This has now been made into a beautiful film by Steven Spielberg titled 'Munich'. And the rescue of the hostages at Entebbe Airport still remains one of the most successful efforts in countering terrorism. And look at Israel today. Even though it is the enemy number one of the Islamic fundamentalists it has been successful in staving off major terrorist attacks on its soil. Why? Because no attack on it is allowed to go unpunished. The USA too has been able to prevent terrorist attacks on its soil. This has to be attributed in part to its excellent defensive measures. However, one has to take cognizance of its offensive measures too.

So it is time that the Government of India constituted a team to go and seek the masterminds and funders of the Mumbai attack and any subsequent attacks and eliminate them, even if it means violating the sovereignty of Pakistan or Bangladesh or any other country, even if it means eliminating General Musharraf or the top brass of the Pakistani Army, who might very well be behind the attack on Mumbai.

Also, I think that it is of utmost importance to start a global movement against terror emanating from Pakistan. India should go about convincing the powers that be in the world that enough is enough. The US and its Coalition has given the government of Pakistan enough time and resources to stop the breeding of terrorism from its soil but with no results. Now, it is time for intervention by a body constituted from agencies/experts of countries like USA, UK, Israel (which might be unacceptable to Islamic nations but they have considerable expertise in countering terrorism) India and Pakistan. This body would be stationed in Pakistan and the Pakistani Government should be made to co-operate; it is hardly in any financial position to refuse.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Compassion and the right to judge

I am woken up by a very plaintive but powerful cry from the street of a man seeking help about his son. I can't make out what he is saying. Appears to me to be something like police torture in connection with the Maoist attack on the Ministers' convoy in Midnapur. I come out on to the balcony. I see him. A poor man in a lungi. He has a small sheet of paper which he is profering to passers by who ignore him. It is a pathetic sight.

I go down to the street to see what the matter is. He is ahead of me. He has a quarter of a shirt on, that is the collar and the right half sleeve. Now I can hear him clearly. His son is sick and needs medicines which cost Rs. 370/-. He is squint eyed. I look at the paper. The prescription looks genuine. But his face gives him away. I ask him if he takes drugs. He is stunned. He seems not to understand. I ask him in Bengali, "Drugs? Do you take drugs? Medicines?"

"Yes. Medicines," he says.

I calmly tell him that what he is doing is not right and turn away. He becomes silent. That pathetic cry is stilled.

As I walk back I ask myself did I have any right to judge someone who was seeking help. Suppose he was really seeking help for his sick son? Suppose he becomes silent and goes away when he realises that people are taking him for a drug addict?

Strangers and close ones

I am again having my cigarette and tea at one of the tea shops near SBI, Dhakuria. From the corner of the left eye I catch a glimpse of an apple green silk sari. 'Exactly like the one my wife has,' I tell myself.

It is my wife.

It is strange to watch ones own wife, with whom one has shared twenty-five years, as one watches a stranger. She is tense and anxious to get somewhere in connection with her work as a direct selling agent of skin care products. A minibus appears and hesitates hoping to get some more passengers. She walks up to it. Does she ask the conductor something? The exchange doesn't seem to be satisfactory. I am concerned. I have seen her only at home as a girl who needs a lot of care. The smallest irritant upsets her. (If only I had noticed the warning before I had married her, 'Fragile! Handle with care.') And here she is out in the city. But I regain myself. I know she is adequately capable of looking after herself with that tongue of hers.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Just before where the Dhakuria flyover over the railway tracks touches down at Dhakuria, on the left side of the road going towards Jadavpur, a row of taxis sit on the taxi stand set up by the Party next to the bridge ahead of the 47A bus-stand. That place was a conventional pee-pot for long. After thirty years someone decided to set up a paid-toilet sort of a thing. But even that hasn’t sorted out the problem for Kolkatans who are so averse to walking a few steps (they must have a bus-stop every hundred/hundred fifty yards).

A road runs parallel to the bridge from Dhakuria station road. Along the pavement there is a row of tea-shops. I am having tea and a cigarette on a bench this glorious, blessed, quiet November late morning. I see a dignified old man (could have been a government officer or an officer in a PSU), nearing eighty, in old clothes though not faded, watering the remote rear tyre of a yellow Ambassador taxi.

Nothing wrong with that, except that he is half turned to the street to see whether anyone is watching him. I am. I see that makes him uncomfortable. I am not involved. He watches me watching him. I watch unconcerned. ‘Turn to the wall you fool,’ I tell him mentally. Then he turns around more fully to face the street as he tucks himself in, though I don’t see his pecker, only a touch of white of his unders. I see that he has done that intentionally as if to tell me ‘take that, you…’. But he is too much of a bhadrolok. That doesn’t permit him to show it to me.

* * *

I am in a queue waiting to get inside the ATM cubicle at Dhakuria SBI. High on the two sooty walls below the lone tube-light on the pipe for a cable and where the granite wall cladding ends a foot above the door level there are three or four rows of about thirty brown moths. Wings folded and all still.