Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Rubbing Eyes: In Defence Of The State

Can't believe that TOIletries have grown a pair of balls and actually printed this article.

Source: TOI

The Indian state has become a favoured punching bag for intellectuals of all hues from fuchsia pink to carmine red, especially when it comes to its handling of terrorism. The vituperation is directed at almost everything the state does in this regard, from targeting suspects to methods of interrogation to counter-terrorism tactics.

An attempt is made to paint the state as a macabre monster whose only objective is to target the innocent, incarcerate the hapless, throttle all forms of dissent, routinely use sadistic torture during interrogation and regularly arrange elimination of suspect individuals through what is known in India as 'fake encounters' with the state's security apparatus.

Words like 'pogrom', 'fascism', 'decimation' and 'atrocities' are glibly bandied about in the outpourings of these concerned individuals in all manner of media. Those not living in this country, but knowing about it solely through this blame lens, may be forgiven for concluding that India is governed by some highly vicious form of resurrected Nazism instead of being one of the world's freest democracies.

The more mischievous among those who posit themselves as 'radical thinkers' freely interchange the state with the majority community and label the latter, by inference, as vile, vicious, vindictive and violent. In some insanely devious manner, these would-be Lancelots — but in reality Don Quixotes — transform the victims of terrorism into its perpetrators.

These human rights defenders are also very selective when it comes to berating the state for its acts of omission and commission. While there is outright condemnation of the pressure exerted by the security forces during anti-insurgency operations, there is no word on the inhuman killings and exploitation of their own people by the insurgents, whether it is Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland or Assam.

The 'protectors of the suppressed' maintain a studied silence when Naxalites calculatedly go about ruthlessly eliminating all those who come in their way of establishing hegemony over remote tribal areas. But they lose no time in raising a horrified outcry when the Naxalites start getting a taste of their own medicine by villagers who are organised into self-defence forces by the state.

It's not for me to seek to flip off the sanctimonious halos of these 'intellectual' vigilantes. They are welcome to this headgear, to the extent that they limit their criticism to the wrongdoings of the crooked in the state apparatus. But, consider what the impact is when they indulge in constant carping and wholesale denunciation of everything that the state does. No matter how thick-skinned the persons manning the security apparatus of the state may be, at one time or the other, this continuous criticism starts to demoralise them. At this rate, our security personnel may soon reach that state of mind when they feel that it is pointless risking their lives for an ungrateful public and perform with the minimum effort needed to retain their jobs.

Unfortunately these knights of human rights have a way with words and a gift of the gab that makes them darlings of the mainstream media. They have a high public profile which makes our political masters wary of them. The defence for the state is put up very weakly and, therefore, lacks conviction. Who, for example, pays heed to the pathetic bleating of Union home minister Shivraj Patil?

Recall the Naxalite insurgency in West Bengal in the seventies and the Khalistani imbroglio in Punjab in the eighties. It was only a strong response from the state which finally put an end to those near civil war situations. In many places, the country again faces similar crises. If political will is weakened by the constant criticism of state action, those at the helm may not find the courage to take the harsh steps needed to counter insurgency decisively. Ironically, the ones most hurt because of this are the aam aadmi, those that the human rights defenders seek to protect.

The writer is a Bangalore-based business analyst.

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