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?”