Nandigram – The Left hand of violence

November 16, 2007

After the right wing violence in Gujarat comes the left handed punch in Bengal. Gujarat violence was easy to understand and classify – religous hatred and an orchestrated communal outburst. But Nandigram is difficult to comprehend. Partly because media coverage has been patchy. There have been allegations and equally strong counter-allegations in press coverage that has negated the impact of the gory violence in Nandigram.

Communist violence is no less disgusting than communal violence. A fertile well-literate Bengal has been kept under the poverty line by the communists for decades. But nobody seems to bother. Jyoti Basu walks high among politicians even as, say, a Lalu is villified for the same crime. It is a never-ending wonder, how communists have been able to be perched on to their moral high grounds despite their dismal records in Bengal and even in Kerala.

At the end of it all, I know nothing of Nandigram violence. Was it the fault of communists or the alleged-Maoists? What is the difference between the two clans – are they not supposed to be bound by the same idealogy? But there has been something brewing in Nandigram that has made the air putrid there – the stink left by the violence can be sensed though not proven.

Misplaced faith in any idealogy – be it religious or political, be it right wing capitalism or left wing socialism, seems to yield the same result. Hatred. Violence. And finally loss of faith – in anything.

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Confessions of an atheist

November 6, 2007

An atheist confessed to me, whenever he was in a depressing situation, he wished he was not an atheist. How easy is life for the spiritually inclined…all you need to do is to leave everything to God and trust he will take care of them. But having admitted the truth to oneself – that there cant be any God, it is difficult to disbelieve that truth and leave it all to God. The atheist has to arduosly harbour the burden of his own difficulties. He knows he has to sort it out himself. There will be no divine intervention.

Oh – if only God exists! You can always believe that you will get what you deserve. You just have to be good. As if being good at heart is the end-state (why not). And trust me, it is not difficult to be good. It is much easier than what an atheist believes he needs to be to succeed (in material terms) – hard working, smart, intelligent,…,there is an endless list.

In good times, the atheist doesnt know how long it will last and he knows he has to be constantly striving hard to make it last longer. In bad times, the atheist doesnt know where to turn to. He has to continue to trust himself and his abilities to wriggle out of the bad times. The joy of good times is lost in the effort to sustain it and prolong it. The agony of bad times is compounded by the inability to turn away from it. Paradise lost can be regained. But belief lost is lost forever.

There is a certain serenity in believing in serendipidity and the atheist is forever deprived of it. No wonder man made Gods. And religions to keep the myth alive.


Hierarchy of terror

November 3, 2007

After watching the non-stop telecast of the Tehelka sting till midnight on day one (interspersed with numerous ads inbetween), I was certain that satellite space is going to be filled with nothing but this for the next countless days. After stripping the videos of all the hype, the empty Rana-Pratap-boasting and words intelligently inserted into the oppressor-victims’ mouths by the reporter, the incident still had the necessary impact. This is the blackest story of our times in India.

To my surprise though, the ‘most important story of our times’ had been relegated to the pages of not-so-widely circulated Tehalha magazine and the scrolling newsbars of television. Is it the fear that the sting could be fake or is it the genuine fear that the story is actually bound to backfire and benefit those it is trying to expose?

The buried questions that are brought out by the sting scream asking for answers. The victims of Hindu riots may have been fewer than the victims of Islamist terror over a period of time (if riots and terror maybe painted with religious colours). But what makes organized riots more repulsive and frightening than organized terror? The motive and results are the same. But a Narendra Modi is going to be condemned by the intellectual more than even Osama. There is something indigestible about mass leaders inciting common man to kill and then walk free in the society. The life in hiding and fleeing itself is a punishment in a way for the terrorist. But the mass leaders are rewarded with votes and power. For a neutral observer, this is disgusting.

And somehow, one enraged person or team, planting a bomb to trigger off the deaths of people doesnt evoke the same horrid feeling as seeing a large group of incensed (idealogically or otherwise) people targetting specific individuals and raping, burning, slicing, hacking them to death. Somehow murder by hand is more harrowing than killing by a bomb of a terrorist or a soldier. Is it for the same reason why Hitler is more hated by History than Truman though Truman’s atom bombs probably claimed more lifes than Hitler’s gas chambers could in over a decade?