Sunday, September 14, 2008

Here we go again

Serial Bomb blasts rocked the Indian capital taking 21 lives and leaving scores of others injured.
The ineptitude of the administration is borne out the fact that this blast follows close on the heels of similar blasts in Bangalore,Jaipur and Ahmadabad. If you go back further in fact no convictions have been obtained in blasts that happened in 2005.
So while the United States has found to its detriment, that invading nations under the guise of pre-emptive action or the Bush doctrine has serious drawbacks, one thing they can say in their defence is that there has not been a single attack on US soil since 9/11.
Not for a minute am I advocating the need for military action against some of India's neighbors who have no doubt harbored elements behind these blasts. However one has to point out the typical Indian response of condemning the blasts, pleading for communal peace, and breathing a sigh of relief when no riots take place, is not going to put an end to these blasts.
India's current woes have many reasons and I don't know that I'll have a chance to touch on all of them , so I'll list them as I go along.

Treatment of minorities:
One of the sad repercussions of the manner in which our independence was accompanied by a most bloody and brutal partition, is that there is a certain hostility towards minorities within sections of Indian society. That hostility has only sharpened in the recent past with the the rise of Islamic terror the world over.
Sure Hinduism preaches tolerance, but somewhere in the past 60 years relations between the two major communities has frayed. This has not been adequately acknowledged so the chances that this situation would be remedied anytime soon are remote.
Economically Muslims are relatively disadvantaged by a large portion of the population not having access to a modern education system. And the ones who have had educational opportunities have no doubt faced a subtle and sometimes not so subtle discrimination in the job market.
Recently I read an article of how certain housing societies discriminate against Muslim tenants and owners. For the life of me I can't understand how that would be legal or permissible. We aren't talking about some back room practice, but a widely prevalent practice.
We complain of ghettoisation while ignoring the causes.
None of the state police forces have adequate representation of the Muslim community, which makes intelligence gathering difficult.
The community often perceives the state as being partisan in going against its interests as it saw in Gujarat 2002.
Such issues cannot be solved by police alone. Reservations , I don't think will have the desired affect either. A more concerted effort to work towards integrating The Muslim community into the main stream is needed. More money has to to be spent on education in areas where Muslims reside. Laws that protect against discrimination in housing, education and employment must be invoked and enforced. Laws currently protect Scheduled Castes and Dalits from insults, slurs and atrocities in general. Such protections should be extended to the Muslim community.
So will all this fix the issue?
No , since the animosity amongst the majority community against the minority community has its origins in the way the community has been handled by the administration in general.
Uniform Civil Code , can't be forced down people's throats, however laws which are imposed in modern moderate Islamic Republics such as Indonesia should be fair game for us. There is no excuse for our personal laws being more regressive than an Islamic nation , when we are a "Secular" nation.
Subsidies for pilgrimages of any and all kind should be withdrawn.
Now all this can only be achieved in partnership with an enlightened Muslim leadership which actually believes that these steps are indeed directed towards the betterment of their community.
The message has to be sent out to the right wing loonies, that no re-jig of the partition is possible. Close to 15% of India's population is Muslim and there is no way they can alter that reality. So the only way in which we can move forward as a nation is together. Leaving behind such a huge chunk of our population is neither conscionable nor wise.

A demoralized police force and an overwhelmed judicary
The backlog of cases in Indian courts is stuff of legend. The police in most parts is feared but not respected. The quality and training of Police forces in India vary from state to state. However the mediocrity is frighteningly consistent.
Being a policeman in India usually means you are overworked and underpaid and defintely under-trained. Politcial interference means that the few in the force who are both capable and honest have very little scope for advancement.
Just recently Israeli Police interrogated their Prime Minister on bribery charges. Would this have ever been possible in India.
Most people go about their day today lives praying that they wont have to encounter the police or the legal system in any way, shape or form.
I just finished reading a book which basically applies the broken windows theory, to explain how crime in New York suddenly dropped off in the 90's.
So though you can argue(quite effectively) that the broken windows theory can't be applied to the bizzare logic of islamic terorism, surely there are things on this front that need fixing which will allow us to respond to law and order threats affectively?

Need to foster a give and take relationship with our neighbors
Like it or not India is viewed as a bully in the neighborhood.
And often enough its the small things that make a difference. I am not advocating the Gujral doctrine of buying love from the neighbors, but surely there are certain issues on which we can give without losing much.

I don't expect that Anyone of consequence is going to read this and sit up and take notice.
So dear reader its incumbent on you to pass on the good word, till it reaches the ears of those who matter.