Blaming Azam Khan and Mani Shankar Aiyer for their comments on the terror attack in Paris has been the subject matter of TV debates all through yesterday and may continue for some more time.
But come to think of it, are we all not parochial when talking of such issues. Those who do it openly become public figures or is the other way round?
Ever since the Paris attack wherever I have had the chance of eaves dropping – drawing room chats, in public transport, in offices, the common refrain of Indians has been “Now that there is an attack in Paris everyone is talking about it. When India talked about it for some so many years no one took us seriously.”
It is like saying “Good it happened to you so that you understand our pain now.”
Is this not a downright crude, cruel if not obscene remark on a tragedy that has occurred miles away but highlighted straight to our bed rooms via the TV channels what is it? Those unknown victims of the attack were not known to us nor did they harm us in any way, nor were our personal interests clashing with them in any way. But cross your heart and say that this was not your reaction after watching the entire world, the global community, the heads of governments expressing their condolence to the French government.
Did we not react as if we were not least concerned about the deaths of innocent people but we were in an indirect way rejoicing that now Europe and the West, which were lecturing us on Human Rights and FairPlay were swinging into action to avenge the deaths of their own people?
That is human nature, if you can still call it human, I don’t. This is beastly.
But we have all reacted like this at some time. I now recall my own reaction to the tragedy that stuck the USA on what is known as 9/11.
I was in Dehradun at that time and had enough time at my disposal after my normal duty. At night I used to play chess on Yahoo with unknown players but basically to chat with them.
After the attack I wanted to know the reaction of the kids from USA to the event and started by sympathizing with them.
That elicited a cordial response but as soon as I said I was from India their first response was “Oh India, but you have such a lousy Prime Minister (Atal Behari Vajpyeee) look at Musharraf is so smart.”I had heard that Musharraf had very good PR and here was the evidence.
But I diverted the issue by touching a raw chord in them. I told them there was no comparison- Vajpayee was a Poet and Musharraf was a dictator. How could Americans support a dictator.This was heavy for the kids but there was silence.
After this I started telling them they should protest against the aid their country was giving to Pakistan because it was aiding and supporting terrorists who had attacked them.
And to reinforce my argument I told them what we are saying today-“You have seen deaths from terror only now. We have been bearing this from decades.”
This stuck them hard and within an hour the players from that part of the globe who were praising Musharraf were shouting “Down down Pakistan”.
I felt as if I had won the war against Pakistan on that day.
I don’t know how I would react to such talk today but I remain proud that I managed to drill some sense in some people whom I did not know even by their first names.
By Amitabh Srivastava