“The guilty shall not go unpunished”.
What solace, to the ringing ears, bruised bodies and battered souls, these six words bring! With the drip from the I.V., hope trickles down into the veins and warms the numb limbs, cold from being inadequately covered in hospital blankets. For the dying, this instills a sense of vengeance in their failing hearts.
But for those who survive, the horror is renewed, once the IVs are wrenched from the wrists. Promises too are wrenched away, magicked into oblivion. As the hospitals discharge the survivors, shooing them away, in preparation for the next incoming lot, the survivors, once made to feel like heroes, martyrs almost, slink away to their never-the-same-again lives, feeling more wounded by deception than by the blasts, crashes, collisions and agitations that bled them.
Because, dramatic though it may sound, it is a known fact, that as long as the sun keeps on adorning the eastern sky at dawn, the guilty shall go scot-free in India. Even if punishment is served, it is usually too little and too late, such that the guilty by then manages to incite sympathy and gather a strong humanitarian defense for him, the main reason for his incarceration having long faded from public memory.
I wonder if Mr. Billings would still be able to hold on to his humor while quoting “There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness”, if he were to be born an Indian citizen, a common one, sans Z+ security.
But of course, forgiveness is innate in Indians. Why else would we be going on supporting our farcical democratic electoral system?
India was not founded on some newly emerged island, formed by colonization of some unexplored lands after taming its savages. True, the ruling scepter has passed many hands in our long history, but India, under varied names and myriads of customs, has always managed to stand, and its spirit has survived. So, even though the post-independence rulers of our country want to believe that they have the hardest job of ‘building a nation from scratch’, I think, that is utter nonsense. And even if they were handed that job by the abdicating rulers, I ask the reader frankly, do you think they have a done a stellar job in all these years after independence? For comparison, you may kindly refer to your history books, or jog your memory, and take the instance of the island nation of Japan, thoroughly devastated, in body and soul, by the atomic bomb explosions at the end of WWII, and the astonishing comeback it has made since then. In case of both these countries, the time frame for development has almost been the same.
So, here we are, after three score years of our independence, with our primetime news showcasing how regressive our policies and opinions are becoming as we march onward with time, while Japan is inventing and innovating the glaring contrasts of progress between the two nations.
We, as Indians, are taught, not to point at a man’s shortcomings and ridicule him for it. So, we citizens of our great nation go on overlooking the increasing incompetence of our leaders and policy makers, even rewarding them for their unaccountability and ineptitude, by reelecting them to the seats of power. Austerity, being ingrained in us, we are content with the chickenfeed thrown at us, albeit, amidst huge publicity and pomp. We have forgotten what our worth is, what we deserve and what we should expect from those for whom we suffer long waits in even longer queues in front of poll booths. Well, of course, when our own numbers are exploding without any regard for any mathematical laws of progression, we have nothing else to do, but be content with chickenfeed.
So while the world is gearing up for mining minerals from asteroids in space1, we are pecking at chickenfeed, quite contentedly.
Sometimes, however, some of us Indians, bored with chickenfeed, begin stirring in our coops and start asking questions, sufficient to make our politicos uncomfortable. The best way to avoid a question is to change the topic and avert attention. And a terror strike is just the right diversion from demands for development.
News anchors in most prominent news channels on air are excitedly brandishing ‘proofs’ of the prior information the government had about the recent Hyderabad blasts2. People are wondering at the inaction on part of the government, even though previously informed. I, on the other hand, find it, unsurprising, even, expected. Like I said before, there is no better distraction than an explosion, and the thoughts of insurgency and external invasion effectively stifle all demands for progress and advancement.
For, the primal instinct of all animals is self-preservation. If half of the time we are petrified at the thought of dying from bomb explosions, or mob agitations, or from strangulation after molestation, we would, by default, be more concerned about our daily survival and less bothered about what progress we make on the national front, what development our societies see with changing time. Our country’s policies feed our fears and rock us to sleep, half-fed of mind and body, with bedtime stories of monsters under the bed, effectively dissuading kids from being too inquisitive, since times immemorial.
So, if today, we, the citizens, were to take stock, whom would we be pointing our fingers at, for the rampant ‘terror’ in our hearts? The insurgent forces aided by, as we are made to suspect, our ill wishing neighbours; distant wealthy ‘warmongering, arms-dealing’ dominions; or, our own politicians and bureaucrats, whom we empower to uphold our nation’s constitution, but who trample it by encouraging, inciting and practicing corruption? If it is a ‘terror strike’ that has happened in Hyderabad two days back, it is a ‘terror strike perpetrated at the bureaucratic level’, through government’s inaction.
If the guilty is to be punished, I ask the reader, to carefully deliberate and then pass verdict, unbiased. Who is the guilty here? The bombers, a couple of brainwashed, idealistic, ignorant brutes; our government, which, like the famous member of ‘The Three Monkeys’3 sees and hears all, but fails to speak up at the right time (indirectly instigating terror); or we, the citizens, who, because of mass OCD perhaps, feel compelled to reelect the instruments of our destruction to seats of power, year after year after year.