1. Terrorist Attack : Nothing brings out the tremendous reporting and emotive skills of our journalists like a good terrorist attack. One has to just youtube videos of 26/11 and see channels like NDTV, Times Now, CNN-IBN, Aaj Tak fall over each other in dramatizing such tragic events. Mind you, they will die to be the first and show footage, reminding you over and over again that these are exclusive. One blogger went to the extent of writing…”Barkha Dutt & NDTV..A Terrorist’s Dream Come True” ..I think he needs to add all the channels to his blog. And if there’s a shortage of reporters, throw in an Arundhati Roy as well, she will explain to the world why people like Afzal Guru and Kasab are heroes and are justified in their actions. If I were to pray for media houses I would pray that the next major terrorist attack happens in their own office, all of them.
And they pray for these because there are lesser production costs unlike a garish studio program that involves morons from two sides of the political spectrum. And then their studio musicians get to score dramatic music to back such events and reporting. Looks like they will have their prayers answered quite frequently. And rest assured our media scavengers will be right there with their “breaking news” !
Well Barkha Dutt (NDTV) was there in a black jacket and wet hair, Arunoday Mukherjee (CNN-IBN) was there with an umbrella and then there was Sreenivasan Jain (NDTV) narrating the story of Tushar and Asghar, both victims of the blasts, both unconnected and how “their paths never crossed”. Jain’s narrative sounded more like “communal harmony” during distress. Almost all of them gave us a history lesson on Zaveri bazar. I guess that helps. This time around the panellists on various shows, especially those from Mumbai, were simply angry. Very very angry!
And for comic relief the duo of Rahul Gandhi and Digvijay Singh were quick to enlighten us. DS mentioned we were better off than Pakistan when it came to terror attacks. Be grateful. RG, with his usual intellectual insight, came up with 99% attacks prevented and how 1% attack might get through. You’re lucky, you’re only 1% dead. How he came up with such silly statistics is anybody’s guess.
There is simply a marked unwillingness on the part of the Central government to take proactive measures to prevent such acts. P. Chidambaram seems to talk a lot after each attack but appears to have done precious little to strengthen internal security. The inaction is explained quite well in an article in Outlook magazine, “Four questions for the home minister”. I guess it is now time to separate the home ministry from the responsibility of internal security and have a completely new ministry for Internal Security. Who knows we might even need a ‘ministry for terror’ if this situation continues. For consolation PC repeatedly mentioned that this Mumbai attack came after 31 months. There are reports on various intelligence agencies, like the NIA (National Investigation Agency) lacking trained staff or Counter terrorism policy not in place. Even if the national intelligence agencies were to be networked well I wonder how many people in those agencies can even solve a Crossword puzzle.
The media couldn’t help patting itself for conducting itself differently from the past or even patting the government for being calm and not panicking. Some tweets sent in by regular reader Free_Verse are truly amazing:
Rajdeep Sardesai: a word of praise for the maha cm prithvi chavan. was calm, composed and clear. not like the vilasrao-rr duo last time.
Barkha Dutt:- Some lessons have been learnt. Mumbai cops sent sms messages across city asking people to remain indoors and calm, updating on blasts
– Information flow out of both state and central govt so much better compared to 26/11. Chief Minister sounds controlled and measured.
Nikhil Wagle:Thanks to prithviraj chavan who acted swiftly n reminded us of sharad pawar after 93 blasts.
Rahul Kanwal:Must acknowledge govt’s response much better than 26-11. Constant flow of information. Quick emergency response. No undue panic
Pallavi Ghosh:This time handling of post blast situation much better thn 26/11..regular briefings, pmo updating, chidam going to mumbai asap..
You’d have thought that all the calmness meant carefully calibrated action after the attack. You might even think all these journalists had done a careful analysis of Prithviraj Chauhan or the government at close quarters. It is fair for the media not to bash the CM or the government at such a time but praise is certainly uncalled for till the full story of the events have unfolded.
Seriously, this is what the Indian Express reports on the emergency response: “Bleeding victims put into taxis, trucks and private vehicles were the first to reach the hospitals, much before any ambulance, government or private, could reach the site of the terror attack… And it needed yet another terror attack to expose the gaping hole in the city’s emergency response system.” OR see the front page pictures on The Times Of India. Well, for all the back-patting that the TV media gave the CM and the Maharashtra government, truth is that emergency systems aren’t really working as they should. There is a difference between staying calm and not panicking and being calm and fighting fire in an emergency. In times of distress calmness can only be half a virtue.
The CM himself confirmed on CNN-IBN today that for 15 minutes after the blasts the communication had completely broken down. Take that for the prompt and coordinated response. And the best note also comes from Chidambaram himself: “whoever has perpetrated the attacks has worked in a very clandestine manner“. Really? Alright, in future are we going to expect terrorists to act in ‘open’ manner? Someone in the media surely needs to pull up PC and tell him that terrorists are expected to indeed act in “clandestine” ways. PC delivers that great piece of silly wisdom as an explanation which the media faithfully reports without question.
For good measure, the man who is forever lost for words had this to say: “I cannot find words to condemn the barbaric acts of terror that resulted in the senseless killing and injuring of innocent people in Mumbai yesterday…” The Prime Minister also stated the perpetrators of the terror attack would be found and brought to justice. More words! We are yet to see justice for past acts of terror. Kasab and Guru are living at the cost of taxpayer money. And the silly question some media pundits ask is if their hanging would prevent terror attacks. Well, not carrying out sentences passed on them doesn’t exactly send a great signal to future terrorists, does it? And keeping them alive and in luxury does send a message to the terrorists. “Go ahead, nothing will happen“!
We may not be able to do everything that the US does in pursuit of terrorists but the unwillingness to act is quite extreme. The government does not even declare a huge bounty/reward for informants who will lead to the terrorists. Surely, that is possible and better than spending crores on maintaining convicted terrorists in luxury. In an emergency a visit by a VVIP now is the biggest distraction and hindrance to relief work. Last evening someone on Twitter summed it up nicely:
Anushree Kothari : “So Sonia Gandhi passed by Worli Sea Face with an entourage of 56 cars! Police at every 10 steps all thru the way, both sides!”
“An ambulance was stopped (on the opp side of the road) to facilitate Sonia Gandhi’s entourage! #*&^*&TheCongress !”
That is exactly what angers the victims and citizens even more. The government spends precious resources chasing a Ramdev or a Balkrishna and other individuals on frivolous grounds. It has the guts to attack and forcefully evict peaceful protesters while sleeping at night. That is your government’s will to fight terror. Strangely, a report that clearly establishes links between politicians and underworld is never being discussed. This article inOutlook will hardly encourage anyone’s belief in the government’s willingness to pursue justice. With corruption and politicians busy grabbing wealth, real estate or sports bodies one has to wonder when they even find time to discuss security.
You are lucky, you are only 1% dead.