The Poto debate that was carried live on the national network played a salutary role in portraying the real face of our leaders. Thoughtful interventions interspersed with rabble-rousing singled out the sane from the unruly. The vision of Najma Heptullah calming those who were screeching reminded one of a bunch of errant school kids being controlled by a head mistress. She did a great job. Then came the final intervention by the PM himself who hit out at Sonia Gandhi. He attacked one of Sonia Gandhis best speeches to date, one that was strong and assertive. His reaction to it was so defensive that it was embarrassing to see the Prime Minister of a country rattled, particularly at this juncture of the countrys life. He appeared weak and angry. The debate put in perspective the mindset of the ruling coalition and that of the opposition. The response in some quarters was that the members of the coalition voted for Poto only because they needed to keep the coalition together, since the arguments for not going through with Poto carried far more conviction!
Juxtaposed with the Joint Session of Parliament was the birthday party that Amar Singh had for his twins. Everyone and his auntie attended! Delhi has become a strange place with strange events. Even the diplomatic corps is trying hard to compete on the party scene and society columns. As though India is merely a party posting, seen as a breather from serious diplomacy. International news hardly ever mentions what is happening in India we are of no consequence at all as we trapeze around the world trying to become a player on the international stage.
With the Middle East crisis blowing out of control, India seems terrified to make a strong statement condemning Israel. Could it be because we now take our directives from the State Department Have we abdicated our judgement or do we wholeheartedly support the US and Israeli position Why are we constipated when we need to take a position Or are we confused Do we really believe that Israel will kill terrorism in this manner Is it not obvious that the retaliation will be uncontrollable with more and more suicide bombers across the planet Bombing countries has never solved anything. It has always aggravated situations, kept regimes in place and added continuing profits to defence equipment-producing multinationals who also support political parties. Why do we allow elected leaders to play havoc in this manner It is desperation and the complete failure of dialogue, of give and take, that leads to suicide bombings. They began in Japan, moved to Sri Lanka and then to other parts of the world. By bombing the hell out of countries and specific areas, you are only creating more and more desperate people. More terrorists.
While going on and on about terrorists, how about addressing State terror The US has terrorised many countries of the world and it is surprising that their experience in Vietnam did not teach them any lessons. The US and Israel are terrorising the Palestinians leaving them with no alternatives laced with some quantity of self respect. It is the big bully tactic yet again. Threats are being meted out to Iraq and suchlike. It all sounds like dialogues and actions from films about the Wild West. And Wild West it is fast becoming. When the police stood by watching the carnage in Gujarat, the citizenry were terrorised. Is that not State terrorism When civil society breaks down as fundamentally as it has in India, and in many different ways, no old or new acts are going to rectify the torn social fabric. Only clean and honest governance will bring positive change. Instead of aping the high-handedness of the US when it deals with the rest of the world, we should evolve our own special humane methods of dealing with people and their crises. Alas, we are fast becoming clones which is why India figures only in the daily world weather report!
Curiously, Mr Bush did not even refer to the carnage in Gujarat, but fell over backwards when two US nationals died tragically when a church was attacked in Islamabad. Is it that the US only cares about the deaths of their nationals Do they have the same sense of outrage about attacks carried out on other creeds and breeds Or are they just plain parochial Their worldwide assault on terror came only after 9-11. But terror has been haunting this planet for decades. Where was this most powerful nation then Where did its sense of morality rest How come it has not attacked the terrorist hangouts in Indias neighbouring countries Or, is it just convenient to allow communal disharmony to erupt in the subcontinent, leading to a Hindu wall to fight against their fears of an Islamic consolidation Yes, many, many unanswered questions on the anvil. We are adept at pushing the unpleasant realities under the carpet. The time has come to question these holier than thou assertions.