Living in denial over Mumbai mayhem

Living in denial over Mumbai mayhem

Sweet and sour

No government which pretends to represent the people of its country can afford to ignore public opinion.
To begin with, there was blank denial of any Pakistani being involved in the crime. It was tinged with apprehension that India may retaliate by carrying out similar operations in Pakistan and trigger off yet another mutually destructive Indo-Pak War.

When that fear proved baseless, it was replied by a sense of achievement, a feeling of pride that their countrymen could plan  and execute such a daring exploit with such finesse. Kasab’s voluntary confession that he was involved in the crime and how it was carried out should have silenced all doubts about the identities of the perpetrators and their motives.

It did not. Even the fact that among the innocent victims over 40 were Muslims was brushed aside. The sense of false pride in performing a foul deed still persists.

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed is a later discovery. Our official spokesman refers to him as the “brains behind the conspiracy”. I checked the allegation with a few Pakistani friends who have no anti-India bias and were in Delhi over Dasara. Though general opinion was that if there is one thing Hafiz Mohammad Saeed does not have are brains.  “He is a rabble-rouser,” said one. “At the most he could, be a    fund-raiser, motivator or instigator, but not a planner.”

There can be no doubt that there were many others in the conspiracy. However, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed has been accorded the status of a celebrity.   

There can be no other explanation of his present whereabouts. One day we are told he has been arrested, the next day that he is only under house arrest, the third day his lawyer professes over TV, radio and at a press conference that he is a free man.

What are we to believe? Whatever evidence we produce is discounted as ‘half-baked’. In this atmosphere of mutual mistrust the prospects of an Indo-Pak dialogue ending in an agreement to punish criminals still at large in Pakistan and elsewhere appear to be dismal.


What I knew about Arunachal Pradesh could have written behind the proverbial postage stamp. I knew it is the easternmost part of India sharing a border with China which has never ceased coveting it. That is why our ex-C-in-C General J J Singh was appointed governor based in Itanagar. Its inhabitants were tribals of Mongloid origin who spoke different dialects. And some were Buddhists, some Christians some animists. That was all.

Now I know a lot more. And all due to a beautifully produced coffee-tabler by a beautiful Arunachali lady journalist Mamang Dai entitled ‘Arunachal Pradesh: The Hidden Land’ (Penguin). It is a kind of primer for those who want to discover the hidden land of densely afforested mountains, rivers, lakes teeming with a variety of birds, butterflies, animals and humans — a veritable museum in which you will find something you knew nothing about.

Maps, pictures and paintings help to imprint the information in one’s mind. We owe it to ourselves to know more about a people we call our countrymen. Start with this book.

Indians number one

Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at the White House, in Washington, DC — one from Bangladesh, another from China and the third one from India. They go with a White House official to examine the fence.

The Bangladesh contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. “Well,” he says, “I figure the job will run about $900 — $400 for material, $400 for my team and $100 profit for me.”

The Chinese contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, “I can do this job for $700 — $300 for material, $300 for my team and $100 profit for me.”

The Indian contractor doesn’t measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers, “$2,700.” The official, incredulous, says, “You didn’t even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?” The Indian contractor whispers back, “$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire the guy from China to fix the fence.”

“Done!” replies the White House official.

(Courtesy: Vipin Buckshey, New Delhi)

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