Atanu Dey On India's Development

Terrorism — The Way Out

Unsurprisingly, Islamic terrorism struck once again. Just three days ago in Varanasi about two dozen innocent Hindus were bombed out of existence and around a 100 wounded. Indians being the victims of Islamic terrorism has become routine and mundane – barely three days after the incident, the major news web portals such as rediff and Indiatimes don’t even mention it on their front page. A few dozens killed? No problem, there are more where they came from. “Just maintain peace and calm, and go about your business as usual,” say the political leaders of the country. Yes, sir, terrorists killing Indians is business as usual.

The people whose business it is to do their utmost to ensure security fail to do their job and the people suffer as a consequence of that ineptitude. All they do after a terrorist attack is to make a bunch of ineffectual and inane statements, and don’t feel motivated to prevent future attacks with any vigor nor make the terrorist pay. Why? Because they don’t feel the pain.

Pain matters. If due to some neurological injury, you were to stop feeling pain, you could be in dire danger. Pain signals that the body is injured and that steps need to be taken to mitigate the threat and to take appropriate action to heal the already damaged part.

Terrorism threatens the body of the society and damages it. It is when the pain of the terrorism inflicted wound does not reach what constitutes the “brain” of the society – the policy makers who control the mechanisms that can prevent terrorist acts and can respond appropriately when they do happen – that society is in danger. The solution is therefore simple: the brain has to know that it will feel the pain if and when injury occurs to the body. Only then will the brain be motivated to seek appropriate mechanisms for stopping terrorists, and be prepared to deal forcefully with terrorists if it does occur.

Dr Manmohan Singh and the leader of the Government of India, Ms Sonia Gandhi, would never feel the pain of terrorism. A thousand – or even a million – Indians could perish at the hands of terrorists without having the least effect on those leaders. At most their security will be strengthened a bit more, more public funds will be spent on getting them more black commandoes as bodyguards, more road and air traffic disrupted when they travel, more citizens will be inconvenienced to protect the leaders from terrorists. The leaders will never be inconvenienced to protect the people, however.

Is there a way out? An economist would respond, “Yes, get the incentives right.” My proposal is to create the mechanism which would transmit the pain of terrorism to the leaders. In a sense, I advance the creation of a nervous system that carries the pain signals to the brain. The incentive mechanism I propose involves public flogging but is not limited to that.

After every terrorist attack, the Prime Minister, the head of the government (if not the same as the PM), the Home Minister (who is in charge of security), the police chief in whose jurisdiction the incident occurs, and the Defense Minister should be publicly flogged, with the number of lashes equal to the number of deaths, within two weeks of the incident. So for the Varanasi terrorist attack, Dr Singh, Ms Sonia Gandhi and the others listed above (I don’t know their identities) should be flogged by 21st of March in the courtyard of the Rastrapati Bhavan.

Aside from the public flogging, the other measure would be to fine them 1 percent of their wealth for every 100 deaths. This means, after 10,000 deaths under their watch, they will have all their wealth confiscated.

What would this accomplish? Firstly, it would put the fear of the lash into them. They would have the incentive to actually reduce the chances of terrorists succeeding. For instance, right now they would for political reasons molly-coddle Islamic preachers sermonizing the slaughter of infidels. Or they may be considering increasing the number of buses and trains between India and Pakistan. Or they may be advocating more porous borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh. When they know that these measures will increase the incidence of fatal terrorists attacks, they will not be so careless with the lives the citizens.

Second, the fines will help with the compensation to the families of the victims of terror attacks. Indian leaders have enormous wealth – from foreign gun deals, from cattle feed, from handing out licenses and permits, and from dipping extremely sticky fingers into the public till. Some of that wealth could be given back to the people.

Insult to their dignity and their behinds combined with injury to their pockets will work wonders.

Now the question would naturally be: would the leaders who make the laws agree to such a deal? The answer: don’t be ridiculous. They would welcome it as much as they would welcome a terrorist bullet in their behinds. No, this is just a pipe dream. Only the citizens – the targets of the terrorists – would support such a proposition. But their opinion does not matter in any case. India is not a cargo-cult democracy without reason.

The inept, uncaring government of Ms Sonia Gandhi has been chosen by the people. The people of India have elected her to run the country. That they should suffer as a consequence of the ineptitude of those whom they elected has a certain poetic justice to it. Yet while this rationalization satisfied the head, it outrages the heart.

Well, until the next terrorist slaughter in the near future, I can only say, “It is all karma, neh?”

  • http://parvativetri.blogspot.com Parvati

    True. And it is not just frustrating, but also so very tragic to the general public. And the only laws that would be passed in a jiffy would be those that increase the salaries of the MPs. Nothing else good will happen ever…

  • http://kshetrajna.blogspot.com Acharya

    Dear Atanu,

    Can you please help readers like me understand why public flogging figures so prominently in many of the solutions that you propose to the problems that plague our country?

    Would this mean that in places where Sharia governs crime and punishment that there are no crimes because of the threat of brutal public punishment?

    Otherwise I completely agree with you. The political elite are so far removed from terrorism. We cannot expect the political elite to act against terrorism unless terrorism has consequences for them.

    I wrote earlier that:

    The systematic murder of at least 21 people and the maiming of 62 others will receive the usual treatment from the Indian government and the media: copious breast-beating, crocodile-tearing, awards of money, lectures on maintaining “communal harmony” et al. for a week or ten days, after which life will go back to normal, till the next set of bomb blasts, ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

    A few years ago the NDA government was quite prompt in reacting to the Parliament bomb attack by amassing troops on the border. I remember thinking then that only when the elite (in that case, the political elite) are threatened do we see any action (or atleast, the impression of action) from the government. If the common man, woman and child are exploded or hacked to pieces or burnt beyond recognition while they are praying, shopping, playing, travelling, working, it really doesn’t shock the Indian (government’s) psyche anymore.

    I bet you that the Indian government’s response will be substantially different if and when the elite (political/economic/social) are targetted.

    Regards.

    Atanu’s response: Why public flogging figures in my solutions is a matter for an entirely separate post. Stay tuned.

  • http://iyerarchi.blogspot.com Arvind Iyer

    This is an extremely stupid post. And I didn’t expect this from “Deesha”, which provides good stuff to think about.
    Right after the IISC attack that happened around end of december, our IIT institute went to a state of high alert. ID’s very checked at otherwise idle gates. Entry books. More serious looking guards.
    But now, 2 months after the incident, we are back to our normal routine.
    I don’t feel like blaming anyone for this. It’s like fighting in the dark, waving your hands fiercely, hoping to catch the creature marring your face. I don’t see how a govt agency, working even at maximum efficiency (intelligence, police etc) can manage security of a billion+ citizens…

  • http://iyerarchi.blogspot.com Arvind Iyer

    Ethics of media and the weightage they give to different news items is a debatable topic in itself. Lets not mix a heavyweight ‘terrorism’ topic with that.
    What do you expect the leaders to say – ‘don’t maintain calm ?’ Even a remark like ‘We’ll catch the perpetrators’ will evoke cynicism from people like us, who have lost faith in the system.
    Try something better Atanu ji. I am listening.

    Atanu’s response: Is it your contention that the alternative to merely telling people to stay calm is to say “don’t stay calm”? Is it possible that the powers that be could actually respond to the attacks such as seeking out and punishing those responsible? Is talk all that they are capable of? If so, should they not be sacked for incompetence?

  • http://reason-blog.blogspot.com Subhas Reddy

    You are apt, Atanu. For the past several months, I did not see much posting or valuable posting in your blog. I feel that you are back. Keep the fire going. Many people will be stimulated.

    If I were the prime minister and I were to be publicly flogged for deaths due to terrorism, I would make every effort to prevent deaths, even if I were the most insensitive person. One can bear 10 floggings, but what if it were 100 or more?
    Of course, the doctors will be monitoring to see that it is not fatal. I would get better ideas, like, for example, making a national citizens database that includes details of every citizen, in a citizen identification number, with fingerprints, and a smart card issued to every citizen. Total cashless transaction system with smartcards, nationwide, would show where the money is coming from and where it is going. And terrorists can’t do anything without money.

    And the very sight of seeing a sincere or seemingly sincere official creates a sense of shame in the lesser officials motivating them to work more. A sincere person can bear the pain better, but it’s hard for a rogue to bear, and so your system will be especially hard on rogues.

  • Uday

    The ineptitude and callousness of the government in seriously attempting to curb future acts of mass murder is disgusting. It is impossible to stop them altogether. But they can and must be significantly lessened, with the murderers hunted down quickly and precisely, and dealt with ruthlessly to serve as a deterrent. Has a forceful message been sent that these acts are absolutely not tolerated? Ever?

    India needs a deal with Israel to learn to better secure the land from fanatic murderers and child killers way before a nuclear assistance promise.

    The depravity of these heinous acts can be truly understood only when the victim is in your immediate family. In the absence of that, everyone who directly influences and establishes policies with Pakistan and extreme/violent groups on Indian soil should look at pictures like this every morning and remember how similar their child is/was, and how fortunate they are that it is not their own – http://in.rediff.com/news/2006/mar/10firstlook1.jpg

    With every article on how India is rising, the media should be forced to highlight the death and suffering of innocent victims and how India consistently tops the list of innocent citizens killed by radical Jihadi criminals.

  • Jayakumar

    Hmmm. I felt that this particular article was too weird to be helpful to me. I’m sure you have the right motivations at heart, ie: reducing suffering in the nation.

    > in Varanasi about two dozen innocent Hindus were bombed out of

    I think you meant to write two dozen innocent _Indians_ rather than separate the victims and perpertrators by religious affiliations even if it may be somewhat accurate! There are Indians (of all religions or better still free of religion) who wish to make the nation better and at the same time there are criminals who would wish to do them harm, who also come from all religions. I’d like to quote Javali as channeled by Amartya Sen:
    “there is no after-world, nor any religious practice for attaining that. . . . [Religious] injunctions . . . have been laid down in the [scriptures] by clever people, just to rule over [other] people.”

    So let’s all reduce the religio-political nonsense and focus on the real issues like poverty reduction, economic growth, the need for basic education for the masses and things like that. These are what will save the nation in the future.

    Atanu’s response: I wrote “Hindus” instead of “Indians” being murdered with good reason. Who do you expect in a Hindu temple — Muslims, Christians, Jews? Could it be possible that the terrorists were targeting Hindus and not merely Indians? This sort of prevarication is offensive and odius. It is political correctness gone haywire.

    I choose my words carefully and mean exactly what I write.

    It is not my pointing out that Hindus were deliberately murdered that should worry you. What should worry you is how the government persistently pitches one religious group against the other by actively discriminating between people of different religions. Why should any group of people have differential job opportunities based on their religion? It is that sort of blatant discriminatory privileging that should rankle but the pseudo-secularists are immune to such matters.

  • Gurjeet

    I don’t want to understate the gravity of this situation – nor condone the (in)actions of the government. However, your suggestion seems as arbitrary as charging foreigners a different price for entering monuments in India. Not to mention, it does not preclude anyone vindictive enough (another politician) from doing the same to inflict a public flogging of the PM et. al.

  • http://thoughts2shair.blogspot.com Sabarish Sasidharan

    >>I think you meant to write two dozen innocent Indians rather than separate the victims and perpertrators by religious affiliations even if it may be somewhat accurate!

    Here you go, another pseudo secular

  • Krishna

    What bothers me most is te duplicity of the pseuso seculars (incl english media). The muslims took to the streets to protest against cartoons publiished in a foreign country but give two hoots about people being murdered in their own backyard. I totally agree with your choice of words -’Islamic terrorism’ and ‘Hindu victims’. That is what it is and no point in hiding the fact behind political correctness

  • Sanjay

    This is in response to Arvind Iyer.

    In UP, Mulayam and his cronies depend on the very extremist muslims who support these terrorists. The police are forced to so soft on this mafia because of their links to senior politicians.

    From the column by Tavleen Singh on Cybernoon.com:

    When I checked with police sources in U.P, if there was a deliberate policy to go soft on Muslims I discovered that the problem was more complicated. In the words of a senior police officer who asked not to be identified, ‘It isn’t that instructions have been given to go soft on Muslims. What has happened is that over a period of time the police has learned to understand the political needs of the government in power.’

    It is not just the police that suffers on account of this politicization but the administration as well. Shameless kowtowing to whoever is in power has reached such a stage that when the bombs went off in Benares last Tuesday evening virtually every senior official was in Fatehgarh attending Mulayam Singh’s nephew’s wedding. Among those absent from the city in its hour of need were the DIG, the Commissioner, the SSP and the DM. The SSP (Senior Superintendent of Police) and the District Magistrate are officially forbidden to leave town at the same time without government permission but possibly the wedding of the Chief Minister’s nephew was too important an event to miss.

    One of the state’s most serious problems is the criminalization of electoral politics. There are so many criminals who have managed to get elected to the Vidhan Sabha that they have spawned their own networks of mafias who control whole villages, towns and cities. Their political clout is so great that the police is forced to become bystanders.

    When the police and administration is so weakened there is little chance of it being able to deal with terrorism. Combine this with general Muslim unrest over Danish cartoons and India’s recent nuclear deal with the United States and the terrorist violence in Benaras last week could be only the beginning. Our largest state with its huge Muslim population could turn into a centre for Islamist terrorism. This is scary because although a Hindu backlash may not be imminent – Mayawati is still favourite to win the next election there are signs that it lurks ominously in the wings. We must pray that it does not happen because when it does men like Veerbhadra Misra will not be heard.

    Arvind: As for security at your institute. That is secondary. The primary objective of publicly flogging these politicians is that to prevent such attacks in the first place. Politicians will forced to take firmer measures in intelligence, take stronger action against the extremist muslims.

    Krishna: Wholeheartedly agree with you. manmohan singh organized a meeting with the minority community to gauge their mood after bush’s visit and the cartoon protests. WTF doesn’t he hold something similar for Hindus? Instead, his advice is to “maintain peace and calm.”. This outright whoring is so infuriating, it’s a surprise Hindus haven’t revolted against this second incarnation of the british raj.

  • http://akaroundpeg.blogspot.com/ AkaRoundPeg

    Sonia Gandhi has felt the pain of terrorists – Rajiv Gandhi was killed by one and so was Indira Gandhi.

    I support your choice of the words Hindu victims.

    Bombing Varanasi is similar to bombing Mecca or Medina.

    Just imagine what would happen if that happened and that too by non-Muslims?

    Has any country or Muslim leader / country come out stringly against these terrorists?

  • http://thoughts2shair.blogspot.com Sabarish Sasidharan

    And now another bomb recovered in Mumbai !

    Is India safe anymore?

    The terror network in India has shown its true capabilities by planting bombs at will all over the country. The law and order machinery is in a frantic attempt trying to patch up the problems. But prevention is better than cure and we are too late now to prevent. We now have to uproot something which we could have nipped off in the bud earlier. And our government, bureaucracy failed us in that respect. And its not the people who made the mistake that are now repenting. Poor people are repenting for the mistakes their elected and non elected representatives have made.

    Can people step out to lead a daily life without worrying about safely returning back home at the end of the day? If even sacred places of worship are being bombed (in true old Muslim invasion ways), can we consider ourselves to be in a peaceful and safe country? These iam sure are the current thoughts running in every Indian’s mind.

    And iam sure the Government does not have an answer to that, an answer that can assure our minds. Iam sure Manmohan Singh of the Congress led UPA Government (for the record) is going to come out with a statement saying India is safe, government will do this and that. But honestly, after having heard him for quite some time now, i don’t feel like believing his words at all. Especially on issues like this. And they are dividing the masses further by adopting minority appeasement policies for garnering more Muslim votes.

    Sad but true… We are losing our lands to jehadi fundamentalists of murderous intentions. And the political fraternity is sitting coolly counting the minority votes they make in the process.

    Iam sure some Indians right now might even be contemplating moving outside India just to make sure that they are not bombed out of existence by a stupid fanatic.

  • http://Donthaveone Kumar

    You are right in that flogging them and depriving them of some of their assets is not an option, but there is another one that we can do, that would go some way in inducing that hurt.

    We can publish the number of deaths attributed to them in a blog like yours which will be duplicated in other places. For example, you could have columns that list out the national party, the affiliated regional party, the acknowledged leader and the year in the first few columns and the breakup of Hindus, Muslims etc. who were killed in the subsequent columns. Providing sub totals simple, and telling.

    I don’t know where to go for the elemental figures, else I would have published them myself.

    Regards

  • Jayakumar

    I think we all share a common goal. It’s clear that we have criminals and terrorists in our midst from all religions and ethnicities. We need to encourage peaceful and law abiding citizens from all religions, regions and ethnicities to do everything that they can to help solve the problem. I apologize for quibling about your labeling of the victims by their faith. You are right in that respect.

  • http://www.vulturo.com Vulturo

    Outstanding post, Atanu

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  • http://jdv.blogspot.com :-)

    Sigh. I dont know man. I just discovered this blog titled indianeconomy.org and liked it. Linked to it. Coincidentally I discovered your post on desipundit.com. From the snippet I thought this is a humour post.

    I disagree with the opinion of PM sleeping on his money bags while people are being killed. Government is working. It has its limitations.

    I would say its the media which is sleeping (which also includes bloggers). We are so used to hindus being killed that whenever hindus get killed its just ‘innocents’ who get killed. But when a christian missionary dies its a nation of Hindu fundamentalists killing peace loving christians.
    I would swear by ‘Hindu victims’.

    But flogging the PM? Thats downright silly.

  • http://www.shivamvij.com Shivam Vij

    I don’t see why POLITICIANS should be flogged, publicly or otherwise, for acts not committed by them. In fact politicians are the highest-risk category for terorrist attacks – most notably, Rajiv Gandhi died of a terorrist attack. I sympathise with politicians, especially those in Jammu and Kashmir.

  • http://underground-man.blogspot.com Venu

    Man, you’re unhinged. When will you grow out your obsession with flogging? For someone who professes a love for Buddhism, you sure take your “proposals” straight out of the sharia.

  • http://www.lifeandsomething.blogspot.com Gaurav

    Atanu

    you sure have a mean streak.
    By the way Rajeev Gandhi would not have died if he was not meddling with Sri Lanka in the first place.
    Ironically LTTE was supported by first Indira Gandhi and then her son.

    Regards

    Atanu’s response: I stand guilty as charge of having a mean streak. I am mean enough to insist that those who fail to protect innocent humans should feel a bit of the pain that the victims of terrorism suffer. I am mean enough to at least express outrage at the incompetence of those who have chosen to be the guardians of the society, and because of which incompetence and even criminal neglect defenseless people have to die while the leaders are protected at enormous public expense.

  • http://www.shivamvij.com Shivam Vij

    So Gaurav, does that mean you support the assasination of Rajiv Gandhi? You do sound like, ‘he deserved it’.

  • http://www.lifeandsomething.blogspot.com Gaurav

    Shivam,

    Let me put it this way,
    I care more about 1000+ IPKF soldiers who were killed due to delusions of Rajeev Gandhi.

    As far as Rajeev Gandhi or for that matter Gandhi-Nehru dynasty is concerned it can go to hell. I do not give a damn.

    Regards

  • http://www.suhitanantula.com Suhit Anantula

    Atanu:

    I am not sure if public flogging is the right method just that it cannot be sure if it can be implemented. And thus it can be one of the solutions to the problem for now.

    if your theory of the brain and the body pain is true in this scenario how do you explain the decisions taken in say Australia. Where every small bit of chance is not left out and every life is important.

    Is this because of the differences in the size or that the Australian leaders care about lifes more than Indian ones?

    People equal to atleast 10 jumbo jets die on the tracks of the local mumbai trains but nobody cares about it?

    Where does this mentalitiy come from?

    Is feeling pain the solution? Or Feeling itself? Something like empathy?

    Suhit

  • Guru Gulab Khatri

    Ok does any one have the list of names of those who died.
    i want to have a rolling list of those killed from now on….
    or should i say anoynymous hindu cause our journalists dont care to find names.

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  • Gulab Singh

    .. Ms Sonia Gandhi, would never feel the pain of terrorism

    And you can ?

    Sonia Gandhi has first hand experience of the pain that terrorism brings – she lost her husband and mother in law to it. If there is one person in the current political setup who has suffered because of terrorism, it is her.

  • Pramod

    I read the blog. It is interesting to know the solutions for the problem of recent attacks in India. Unless the majority of Indians who are in Villages know how they control the fate of India for next 5 years during elections, we will continue to get corrupt, selfish and criminal minded politicians who embark the seat for only aim of making enormous wealth for generations to come. I wonder why 100% literacy( I mean real literacy not just knowing how to write their names) is not yet achieved. Small nations have surpassed us. The reason is very simple. The moment every Indian becomes educated enough to understand the real intensions of our politicians, who will elect them? So politicians themselves do all they can not to develop our nation and do all things to create tensions based on religion,caste or any other means to keep people busy as they loot our wealth. This is the fate of our Country and our own politicians have adopted the old policy of our Imperial masters(Divide and Rule).

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