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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why Is A Bigger Issue Being Reduced To Just A Fight Against Terror?

I am not saying that the terror attacks in either India or elsewhere in the world are not a big issue. It definitely is. But a terror attack or a terrorist is something you have to be prepared against, not something you can necessarily control before it takes form. It is like putting a lock on your house. Compared to terror attacks, a theft in someone's house is a minor thing. But people do keep themselves prepared against theft. I can bet my last buck, that today if the police declares that all theft and thieves are under control, people will still put locks and CCTV cameras in their houses. They are being prepared.

So what went wrong here? We were not prepared. Not prepared for the terror attacks, just like we were not prepared for the Tsunami, for the earthquakes, for the plane hijacking incidents, for the stampedes, for the train accidents, for the riots and millions of other incidents that have time and again shaken the very idea of a nation state capable of looking after itself.

Someone, rather most of us failed in our primary duties and responsibilities, professional as well as social. The politicians, the bureaucrats, the corporates, the religious institutions, the professionals, the NGOs, the public sector etc. Each one of the so called premier and esteemed institutions failed in their duties and responsibilities because of the failure of people serving such institutions.

And now after umpteen incidents we are still talking about preparing ourselves against the last incident. The fight against terror. In the process all the other issues get sidelined. What happens to the fight aginst poverty, fight against corruption, fight against illiteracy and so many other fights. Many websites and news channels are soliciting support from people to sign petitions, and join them in the fight against terror. That is not what we want. The people will register, the petition will be submitted and then everyone will forget about it.

What will it take for people to realize that the need of the hour, it always has been, is to retain the power with themselves. In this case, wrest the power back from the politicians. They are our representatives. That does not mean that once we have voted them in, they can follow their own agenda. Hello, the vote or the election is just a means of putting a representative in the council or he senate or the house. It in no way means that we trust the elected representative. He is just an office bearer who should take inputs and the public opinion from his constituency and represent it in the relevant forum.

So what should we do? Politicians once elected, forget the power of the people. We have to have a way of telling them that we retain that power. Villages, districts, cities and states should have public forums which can address the issues most important to the people. When we feel any government official or office is not doing or doing something against the interest of the people, this forum should allow people to get together and rally around the cause. Imagine if people wanted action to be taken against an errant official or an erring office, the politicians or the powers that be will know that if they do not take concrete action the people will take to the streets, at least the fear will be there. The crowd that was there near Taj a few days back would have forced any politician or a government official in Mumbai to bend to the public demand. If your representative knows that the public is not powerless anymore, he will do his work and try to retain the confidence of the public throughout the term, rather than making promises and doing some lipstick work only before the elections.

Any movement which is started now, should work towards preparing ourselves, our cities, our states and our country towards the future and we, the people have to ensure that the government does not falter on any account. Let us get into a habit of collectively building this nation and be involved at each and every step. And for God's sake let us not restrict ourselves to one incident or aspect of our lives.

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