Saturday, May 8, 2010

Do Indians have a death wish....?

Kasab…. and thereby hangs a tale!

“ Kasab ko latka do…” Done. Kasab has been sentenced. He is to hang. Will he? That’s a million dollar question. Even if Kasab leapfrogs over fifty other prisoners on death row, whose mercy pleas are on hold with the President of India, he could be left cooling his heels in the clink for the next ten years. This 22- year- old ‘menace to society’, will then be a decade older – that is , if no one gets to him before that. The general feeling , at least in Mumbai, is that ‘latkana hai to jaldi latka do.’ Forget the monumental expense of keeping this guy alive and well- fed in our midst, the trickier part is to keep him – period. It is not his safety alone that is at grave risk, it is the safety of the city, and more importantly of the country . Kasab by himself is a complete nobody. His minders would have preferred him to die during the 26\11 terror attacks. It is his misfortune and ours that he survived. Despite the stupendous job done by the Mumbai cops ( in particular, by Rakesh Maria who headed the investigation ), the Kasab story remains incomplete and on many levels, entirely unconvincing. This was exactly what the master minds in Pakistan had hoped for – unleash violence, create an atmosphere of insecurity, mislead the people of India…. and then watch the fun.
There is not a single destination left on the planet that is ‘terrorist proof .’ The world was witness to what happened last week in the heart of New York. And to think, that audacious attempt was engineered pretty effortlessly in a country that prides itself on all the deterrents that kicked in post 9\11. Once again,the watching world looked on in disbelief and horror, as a crude bomb nearly went off in Times Square,engineered by
Faisal Shahzad , who was on the verge of nonchalantly escaping to Dubai from JFK terminal before being picked up. There may be hundreds where he came from. Just as there may be half a dozen homegrown Kasabs waiting in the wings to strike at the first opportunity. Opportunity? Ha…. There is one in India every second minute. Somehow, our mindset is against the sort of security measures that prevail across the globe. We resent the very people whose job it is to ensure our safety. Since I travel constantly, I can tell you, our airports remain our weakest links. Why? Because security efforts are a bit of a joke, and we ourselves treat them lightly. Last week, while returning from a short trip to Goa, I was silly enough to carry a doggy bag with my favourite fish curry in my hand luggage. There is no way one can pack curry into a suitcase, right? Yup. Absolutely right. But…. think about it…here’s a person ( me!), who knows the rules, is perfectly aware that liquids cannot be taken on board ( if over a 100mls). Did that simple thought even cross my mind as I happily set forth with 500mls of curry to enjoy back home? Nope. So… what happened at the security check? A lady cop giggled, shrugged and pointed to her senior ( a burly guy), who came up to ask what it was that I had in a plastic container. I brightly said, “ Fish curry.” He licked his chops before mildly scolding me, “ But madam… you cannot take it on the plane.” My disappointment must have been obvious, because his face softened as he came up with a solution. “Madam, you can eat it here …no problem.” That would have been a first for me. An unappetizing first. Seeing my tepid response, he made another suggestion, “ Why not empty out half the curry and take the rest?” Oh heavens … I admit I was desperate, but not that desperate! By then five more cops had gathered around the plastic container to offer assorted advice. Some had abandoned their posts to participate in the curry debate. Other passengers were being waved through casually, their belongings checked in a cursory way. One of them could have been the new Kasab\ Faisal . Ten minutes later, the burly senior cop strolled away with a smirk on his face. That was clearly the signal the juniors were waiting for. The lady cop all but winked at me before stamping the security tag on my handbag and whispering, “ Theek hai , theek hai madam….drama kar raha tha.” I mean…. Seriously. Come on! Rules ought to be rules, no matter who or what ! That blessed curry was giving me indigestion… a severe belly ache by now. And I said to myself, “ This is so dumb.” Equally, it was so dangerous. Technically speaking, I could have held up the plane with that fish curry. I could have temporarily blinded the unsuspecting crew, forced myself into the cockpit and flung some more of the chilly heavy gravy into the captain’s face. It would have rated as the first plane hijack in the world accomplished by a woman wielding nothing more lethal than delicious Goan fish curry.
I cite this comical, farcical almost surrealistic incident only to highlight the sorry state of our basic security measures at airports… and our own ludicrous attitude to them. We regard checks as somehow being of high nuisance value. The same desis who wordlessly and passively strip down to their underwear at American airports, look deeply insulted and act seriously affronted when much milder procedures are enforced back home. I have witnessed countless “ How dare you?” moments, and wondered at the miracle that has so far saved us from a gigantic calamity. Five star hotels , malls and multiplexes generally employ desperate youth, incapable of holding down any other job. Their ‘training’ is a joke as is evident when you watch them go through the motions in a robotic fashion. What happened at the German Bakery in Pune, is but one example of our own absurd attitude to safety.
Do Indians have a death wish? Sometimes, I feel hapless enough to believe we do!
.

14 comments:

salu said...

hilariously serious post.........
Other passengers were being waved through casually, their belongings checked in a cursory way. One of them could have been the new Kasab\ Faisal .... we do adoe on trifles and on the blink at serious matters.
rgrds/salu.

Sudhir Kekre said...

The Indians, however, rule in England.

http://hamarichaupal.blogspot.com/2010/05/empire-strikes-back_4260.html

Vrinda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shhhhh.... said...

We the people of India are responsible for the mishaps taking place all over the country. Even if the police gives us the protocols that we must follow we hardly bother. Recently in Kolkata, the police issued a booklet of security measures for citizens along with one of the newspapers. I wonder how many people actually bothered to read it. The security people on the other hand are too peeved with their mechanical jobs, even when they have to check the belonging they give a cursory glance to the paraphernalia and we are too happy to get out of this hassle of checking.
It's only when the city is on Red Alert or some attack has taken place ,the security men/women pull up their socks. I am amazed that security agents could be so stupid and callous

Delhi Goon said...

I am glad you brought up German Bakery, people around me had simply forgotten... what with earthy Godmen, Shoania, IPL, Tharoorgate, volcanoes & flight disruptions, British elections etc fighting for a pie of our mental space.

One line sticks like a snag - "It is his misfortune and ours that he survived." How true! But had he died that night would things have been any different?

We see and experience the same attitudes while 'trying' to queue in an orderly line, opening the trunk for checking while mall hopping, and as you mentioned at the airport and other places.

Just the other day at a popular destination in Delhi there was but one policeman manning his post looking disinterested as ever. If US cant avoid a repeat should we be so callous in our attitudes?

I hope some more will be converted (steered in the right direction) after reading this article. We are anyways programmed to die by our genes but to wish it is crazy.

Jogeshwar said...

I have a similar incident to share once while at an x-ray check for a domestic flight, I saw someone carrying filled compressed air cylinder used in scuba diving. I brought to the notice of the crew that it needed to be empty to be allowed in the luggage. The owner then immediately realised his mistake and said that he had forgotten. I was appalled at the ignorance of the x-ray scanners.

Sparkling said...

Comical? Yes! :)
But not expected from you. If you knew, you shouldn't have insisted. You should have left the curry behind!!! Most of the times, we take our own system for granted, why don't we behave responsibly than wait and see if we'd be reprimanded or not?!!! Anyway...
It was about rising above your palate! :)

wise donkey said...

i don't think its our misfortune that he survived. otherwise it would have been easier for Pakistan, to shrug it off as not their problem. we sometimes need a face, not just reports and data.

btw why did you take the fish curry after realising you shouldn't do it. even if the cops allowed it, wouldn't you have not wasted their time, if you had simply said, oops i made a mistake, let me throw it away. i know you didn't have any intention of hijacking the plane. but someone could have said, if she could take it, so can i..

instead of doing only because we absolutely have to, if we started doing what we were supposed to even if there is none to question us, wouldn't India be better.

to use another analogy, a cop accepting a bribe/gift, because the giver gave it willingly doesn't make it right..

I think the chalta hai attitude has become a sort of national "pride" and yeah therefore its a deathwish..

PS : Bin laden has said he won't attack Sweden..

Pooja Rathore said...

you are right there are security measures but are not carried out seriously just like our budget we come out with various plans but no proper implementation.
We must take security issues seriously proper implementation can save lives lack of the same can kill many lives. what best we can do we should do thats the only simple solution.As for the attitude of people entrusted to implement security measures(not all of course) i dont want to comment honestly there is not much seriousness thats the truth we always wakeup when it is too late and we deserve it for taking things lightly which actually deserve serious thought.

P said...

To a point I agree with You... but a tiny part of Me thinks that the only reason you got away with it is because you were a celebrity and they concluded that you wouldn't risk public infamation by doing anything remotely violent! Because I have seen officers making women discard milk bottles that was meant for their infants....under the pretext of following the letter to the "T"! But the larger part of Me does agree with You... security should be just as bind as justice is and that there is much room for improvement with security both at the airport and around our beloved city.

Buzzintown Blogger said...

Superb post. I agree the security check at Indian Airports is a real joke only. I too took few non-allowed items with me. Security will just ask "hope you are not carrying any lipsticks or mosituriser" You reply "No" and no one bothers

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malini said...

http://malini-myvoice.blogspot.com/2010/02/nothing-will-happen-its-ok-kuch-nai.html

Sidhusaaheb said...

When I hear/read about this terrorism threat, security, etc. and all other such assorted stuff, a wry smile spreads across my lips, because the shoe seems to be on the other foot now.

Why? It is because I belong to a religious minority and I know that in this country any one can make any flimsy excuse any day to come and attack and kill me even inside my residence with full protection, if not assistance, of the police against any kind of resistance from my or my family's side. To top it all, the leaders of such an attack, besides being immune to any kind of prosecution, will probably contest and win elections for parliament or the state assembly later, as a reward for killing me, and might even become ministers in the government of India or the state government.

I find the entire Kasab drama a bit amusing, in light of the above.

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