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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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SEASON OF TERROR

Happy Diwali. The serial blasts in Delhi on the 29th were a reminder that there is a new and growing breed of insane human beings who consciously kill innocent comrades who have done no damage to anyone. If these attacks on everyday living by extremists, militants and terrorists is symbolic of their fight against the establishment that they believe has betrayed them, why disrupt normal life and assault people who are not responsible for the political realities that anger these protesting groups' By targeting ordinary citizens they are letting go of their real and true grouse by giving the leadership a legitimate out. Damned because of the inhuman acts that they inflict, their dissenting voice is rejected by all.

We in India overcome these horrors with greater ease than our fellow men and women in Western cultures, hitherto protected from the negatives of disparities and polarized political stances. At another more spiritual and philosophic plane, we believe in preordained fate that helps us deal with the loss of near and dear ones. The majority of Indians, regardless of caste, creed and faith, accept 'terrorists' as a breed apart and do not identify them with any particular faith. This attitude has made us stand apart from the rest of the world. This year Eid and Diwali are being celebrated around the same time. A sense of togetherness makes the bonds between communities stronger and both have been assaulted. Solidarity is what will isolate the terrormongers.

Having said this, men and women who indulge in such heinous acts must have been pushed to the brink in some manner. Political leadership is squarely responsible. When indignities are heaped on people, when their voice is not heard, when dissension is ignored, when arbitrary diktats are given, when the ruthless arrogance of the state envelops civilized people, protests happen. When objections are ignored, when frustration mounts after having explored all avenues, people take the law into their hands and anarchy happens, closely followed by 'terror'.

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Gandhiji managed to mobilize huge numbers of people in non-violent protest that drove the British power out of India. Had Gandhi not 'invented' satyagraha, had he not been able to capture the imagination of a large mass with his special methodology, the Brits would have hung about here much longer. Life was good for them. Had we, as a people, demanded our leadership abide by those very values that had made the difference, India would have been governed with grace and dignity. India would have been a 'super' power, one ruled by humane morality.

But we allowed our rulers to slacken, to get corrupted as they became more isolated in their ivory towers. To remain in that 'comfort zone', they degraded their office, indulged in tactics that were once deemed inappropriate, succumbed to pressures motivated by overarching greed, ceased to 'give' as they rapidly learned to extort. Dishonesty and a lack of integrity became the hallmark of governance. India began to slip into a dark abyss, with us groping to find our way in the dismal hole we have dug ourselves into.

As we Indians light our diyas across this land we should pledge to not tolerate corrupt administrations and politicians. Rather than find ways to 'handle' corruption and the demands that come our way from those who rule us, who determine life and living, we should retaliate with silent, peaceful civil disobedience. We should persuade the UPA to make these issues the foremost priority in their common minimum programme. If the mind- set and modus operandi of the leadership and its bureaucracy do not go through a complete cleansing process, no rate of economic growth or any other such upward swing will extricate this wonderful country from what feels like a bottomless pit.

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