Friday, February 16, 2007

Ayn Rand and the Mumbai Bomb Blasts

Ah well! My apologies first of all for another title that is more to entice readers than a title that is actually apt. The title that I would honestly have chosen would have been "One often wonders...". For this blog is essentially about various things that I started wondering about after watching Black Friday, which is a well-made movie by the ways. And lest u decide to leave at this juncture at the cliches that u would naturally expect, lemme tell u that I am not going to discuss the rightness or wrongness of the incident or of the Babri Masjid issue. For these are issues so old and so oft-repeated that barring those directly affected, I hardly think many even give it a passing thought. As for the title that I chose, its not entirely false, for its more like an author who decides to name his collection of short stories after one of the stories' title. And pray, if I am on apologies, forgive me if I seem disconcerted in this blog...its because of the myriad and numerous thoughts that are going thru my mind right now. In fact, the sole purpose of writing this blog (and only 14 days before the placement season begins at XLRI) is more to give the ideas some concreteness and some coherence in my mind. So here comes...

1. Ayn Rand and the Mumbai Bomb Blasts:

If you remember Atlas Shrugged, you might remember the chapter just before the doomed train went into the tunnel with the coal-burning locomotive which finally led to a blast killing everyone on it. Ayn Rand had given examples of the sort of ppl travelling on it. She had penned it down such: The guy travelling on the 4th suite in the 7th car had shouted out against Rearden metal. The woman travelling in the 7th suite in the 3rd car had said that Jim Taggart was the greatest industrialist ever. The old gent in the Xth suite of the Yth car had shouted "Give the rich the gallows" when Rearden and his coal-mill friend had been brought to the gallows over illegal selling of coal for Rearden metal prodn for producing rails for Taggart Transcontinental...and so on.

Rand trying to say that everyone who died on that train did not deserve to live and that the only one who did...the engineer Pat Logan (its surprising how even after 6 yrs of reading the novel for the last time, names come so easily to mind) went away unharmed and the engineer who finally did drive the train was someone who did not think for himself and believed that seniors' orders were right, without questioning them. Him and the others, all of whom according to Rand deserved to die.

Now watching Black Friday came this thought. When Babri Masjid was demolished (for no purpose whatsoever except to give a fillip to BJP's declining there ever the rise of a political party or force which does not have as its foundations the blood of millions?), there was no protest from crores and crores of Hindus of India. People might not actually have condoned it, however none considered it entirely wrong either...atleast not the Hindus. I remember, even my dad saying that BJP is an opportunist party and that the demolition would lead to hundreds of Hindus dying....which proved uncannily right. However, even he chose to vote for the BJP in the next general elections. He of course said that the reason was that the Congress had failed us and that the economy was going bonkers and that there were no employment oppos for the masses...however would he have voted for BJP had it not gained such popularity due to the incident?...which could in many ways be called the one event that gave birth to terrorism in India with which she is still grappling.

And like my dad, were the people (not all perhaps, perhaps most or many or some) who died in the bomb blasts...ppl who did not consider Babri masjid demolition wrong and who chose to vote for BJP/Shiv Sena after the incident.

Conclusions, if you think are present, are for you to draw...

Disclaimer: If this blog hurts the feelings of any one religion's sensitivities, I'm sorry; not my intention at all. If this blog hurts both the religions' sensitivities; congrats to me, my job is served. For that is all anyone believing in different-RELIGIONS should hope of getting.

2. Why dont many more Black Fridays happen?

One of the other things I wondered about was this: Why dont many more such incidents occur? Kashmir, Pakistan and Bangladesh have scores and scores of unemployed youth..ppl who can easily be enticed into leaving their homes with the lure of a few bucks and loads of crap propoganda on religion. India has such porous borders with all its neighbours (for that matter, both India and America...context: 9/11 WTC bombing...have hundreds of kilometres of coastline which is obviously not feasible to man and so isnt).

All it needs is a truckful of RDX (under bags of tomatoes, if u will...recall all those B-grade Bollywood movies) and a place to store it for a few days and a fistful of unemployed youth in whom religious fundamentalist propoganda has been shoved in.

Could it be that the police forces are actually much more efficient than our movies give them credit for? Or is it that RAW and IB are efficiently run organizations and no movie (novels are rarely written in India) gives them credit for it. I doubt...

Could it be that there is always one small cog that makes all plans go awry?

Or is it that seeing the fate of earlier bomb-blast accused puts fear into new recruits and they do not dare attemp it?

Could it be that raising funds is difficult specially since international pressure (read America) stops rogue govts from giving money to would be terrorists (which argument often raises the question as to whether America is actually doing good to the world by putting such pressure or fuelling these activities by selling the world arms...remember, most inventions of arms and ammunitions were done by either Russia or America)? The tiny sums involved, however, do not lead one to believe that any govt that wishes to, cant funnel it out under some pretext.

Could it be that the act is not as simple as shown in the movies? Possible...though considering the immense size of India and the myriad places to hide anything...the argument might not be as strong. As an aside, remember Frederick Forsyth: "Whats the best place to hide a tree? In a forest. Whats the best place to hide sand? On a beach."

Could it be that the recruits are not so bright and that they give themselves away ("The way the cookie crumbles") by their guilty mannerisms to any lathi-weilding hawaldar that they come face 2 face with, maybe at a train station? Again difficult to say...

However, the argument that seems strongest to me is this: Those recruits are decent human beings and that though they would happily shout slogans against the other religion, they would not, so easily, agree to killing ppl. That the inherent sanity in them is still alive! A point to ponder on...and that what could a well functioning economy with jobs for all could achieve!

All conjectures...any one of the above or a combination of a few could be true! I of course, wonder on...

3. Suicide as an option...

This thought occurred to me while watching one of the conspirators in the movie running from one place to another...without money and without any future in sight and an eventual doom definitely in sight. Why did he keep running? Why not use the last few bucks to enjoy one night and then kill oneself (remember Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman?) or else do looting a shop or a petrol pump for money...u cant be given death sentence twice!

Which leads one to wonder on different people's characters...Al Pacino who did not think he had anything to live for and the guy in the movie, who inspite of all odds, thought that he did.

This reminds me of the Suffolk stalker who killed 5 prostitutes last year. When asked by the police to not go out in the nights, one of the prostitutes said that they have to earn money daily and that, with all the diseases that they probably have, they wont live to see 30 anyways. One wonders, what are they looking forward to (assuming that they do not enjoy their profession) ?

Ah well...there are so many things one could keep wondering about. On my mind, now that I have cleared my mind of the earlier dilemmas, are two remaining ones. One, my placements :(( and secondly, the number of times that I have used the word "wonder" in this blog :D On this note, see you after Holi...