Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Terror and Beyond

Yet another terrorist attack, yet another bloodbath and yet another debate. The much brandished claims about Mumbai’s resilience and yet another crowd crying for some political heads to roll. The scenario has now acquired an eerie familiarity.

Yes, there is reason to cry, to weep. But once that is done with, there is even greater reason to think deep. “When will this stop? How can we stop it from happening again & again? USA learnt a lesson from 9/11 and prevented further terror attacks. When shall we be able to do it?” To all these questions, one answer pops up in my mind, “When we stop spitting on footpaths!”

It may seem a comic answer to some gravely serious questions. But think about it and it may provide some answers. We do not spit in our drawing rooms, but merrily do so in public places. We do not care enough for our shared resources. There is no feeling of ownership when it comes to public property. We burns buses in Mumbai while protesting overcrowding of our city by North Indians. In retaliation, Biharis burn down railway stations in Bihar. This is seen as an accepted form of expressing public anger. More people die every day in traffic accidents and riots because we think that our own rights outweigh our responsibilities.

Then why so much hue & cry when some outsiders come to our city and deface our iconic hotels?

“Terrorism has no religion”, says everybody. But the terrorist sentenced to death penalty for attacking our parliament merrily lives on in our prison because the ruling party fears losing its minority vote bank, if he is hanged. On the other hand, another terrorist outfit suddenly gains political support just because its members happen to be from a majority religion. My blast is holier than thou!

A predictable outcome of the Mumbai attacks is seen on TV. The media is telecasting “common man on the street” blaming the politicians for the attacks. This is not totally untrue. But my dear “common man on the street”, YOU are to be blamed for these politicians!

Politician-bashing although popular among media & public, is useless and unnecessary. Although they are not a very lovable lot, we can't really throw all our politicians into Arabian Sea. Who will rule the nation then? Military? MNCs? Changing the Home Minister or Chief Minister or even the Prime Minister won't help much. What track record does the opposition have in preventing terror attacks, when they were in power? But now they shamelessly demand resignations from the ruling party. The ruling party too did the same, when they were in opposition. The Blame Game is played out elaborately on such occasions. That is politics, India style.

I have seen people demand that security provided to politicians be withdrawn immediately. This is not good. Important leaders need to be protected. Some of them may be corrupt. After all they represent people of this nation! But we can’t let them be soft targets for such attacks. We have lost our national leaders to terrorist attacks before. And that was not a good thing for our national pride.

Another disturbing thing is the cry for military action against Pakistan based terror camps. Let us be realistic. Pakistan is not Afghanistan and India is no USA. When USA fired missiles on Kabul, they did not have to worry about retaliation at their borders. Taliban could only send small groups of terrorists to target specific locations in USA and after 9/11 USA did well to foil such attempts till now. But we share a long border with Pakistan. If a nuclear war breaks out in the region, our hope of growth as a superpower in foreseeable future is lost. We have to tackle this problem with some caution.

It can safely be concluded that irrespective of his political affiliations, no leader can stop terrorist attacks without a proper infrastructure in place. Just blaming somebody and crying for heads to roll is not going to solve the problem. We need concrete steps to be taken to prevent future attacks. I suggest some of those steps here. Somebody somewhere has to take the decisions. I hope that these thoughts reach the ones who will be taking those decisions. Feel free to add your suggestions.

1. Create elite commando bases in all metros. Give them the best equipments, weapons & training. Also helicopters, speed boats, fast cars & bikes. They all shall be under a central command at Delhi but shall be free to act speedily at any emergency. Post some of them on watch at important places in cities, round the clock. (Why just metros? -Terrorist organizations don't have enough manpower and finance to carry out widespread attacks in smaller towns. They want big publicity and maximum damage with minimum investment. So they will attack the soft targets in metros. However, if need arises, the commando units can easily be sent to interior places.)

2. Stringent Federal Law to deal with terror is needed. The commando units should be able to take unilateral action in case of emergency without waiting for state administration’s call for help.

3. Special courts to try all terrorists under the new federal law. Prosecution to be handled by legal wing of the elite commando units. Trials should be over within few months after collecting evidence. Appeals to be allowed only in a special bench of Supreme Court which will decide the case within weeks. No mercy petition allowed.

4. Have a constellation of geostationary satellites scanning the entire coastline and a dedicated ground center that will collate the info and watch for suspicious activity. Issue "identity radio tags" to all fishing & commercial boats of the nation. Feed their courses into a powerful computer and let the computer point out any aberrations.
5. Regular policing should also be improved with better equipment, weapons & training.

6. Create a separate wing of commandos to protect politicians. Personal protection needs a different kind of skill set that that is required in the situations we have witnessed in Mumbai.

7. Build up overwhelming and verifiable evidence of Paki involvement in the terror strikes. Call a meeting of ambassadors of all nations & hand over the evidence publicly. Give Pakistan fair chance to cooperate. If they don't, put the evidence before UN and ask the world to declare Pak a terrorist nation. Press USA to launch a joint action against Pak based terror bases. Mount an economic embargo against Pak.

8. Stop spitting on footpaths, breaking traffic signals, burning buses and railway stations.
If we can do this and put the infrastructure in place, we will not have to worry about such attacks in the future; whatever party or politician is ruling.

Rajendra
http://rajpradhan.awardspace.com/

Monday, November 24, 2008

Death

I think of you
surreptitiously,
as if letting off a fart
in an air-conditioned conference hall

I do think of you,
often and as freely as
taking a leak
on a respectable compound wall

patron of my faith
a false prophet or-
my illicit lover

whatever you are
I have been waiting for your call



© Rajendra Pradhan
http://rajpradhan.awardspace.com/

Monday, October 20, 2008

Where Have You Been?

where have you been?



Long time no see

he said to me

with angry eyes



where have you been?

why did you leave?

not even good-byes!



my shame hung heavy

on my stooping shoulders

for I could not

rhyme my answers

anymore



he kept taunting

needling me

riddling

with his piercing stares


the poet in the mirror



as I shaved

yet another night's useless crop

off a vaguely familiar face




the only thing that grows

on me these days

I told him

as I rinsed the razor



but where have you been?

tell me, where have you been?

he went on



the same place

I said wearily




as I searched the walls

for a trace of a door

and turned my back on him


the poet in the cracked mirror





Rajendra Pradhan


This is my first attempt at poetry, in a year & half.

Monday, March 17, 2008

It has been a while

It has been a while since I posted anything here, or on any online forum for that matter. Health is the reason. Last year I had an accident and survived with a brain injury. Some days are normal, but most times I get dizzy even by just waking up or walking.

But I hope to come back. Soon.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Little Devils



September 6, 2007


Usha aunty visited today. You know her, don’t you dear Diary? She the one with a mustache and likes to pinch little girls’ cheeks. “Look at those two little devils! Aren’t they simply adorable?” I winced at her remark. ‘Don’t call me a little devil; I am a TEN year old girl!’ I wanted to retort, but held back my tongue ‘cause my mom was there you know!


I’m tired of these aunties and uncles calling us –me and my little sis Anu- “little devils”. Now Anu is a proper devil if you ask me, little or not. You should have seen how she climbed into Usha auntie’s lap! Aunty even kissed her on her chubby cheeks. YUCK! I don’t know how or why she puts up with these adults treating her like a baby. I wouldn’t do it even for TWO lollipops, NO WAY!


It is Anu’s birthday tomorrow, her sixth. Dad said there will be a big party in the evening, balloons and all! He said he will be back from office early just for her b’day. Dad was away on his tour last month, when it was my b’day. But I don’t hate dad for that, to tell you the truth, dear Diary. Dad has to work, I know. I’m a big girl now. But I hate the little devil for having her b’day when dad is not away!


You know dear Diary, how it is with that snotty girl. She gets the first AND the biggest chunk of ice-cream or chocolate pudding or whatever that mom makes or dad brings home. And she gets to watch all the cartoon shows on TV. For me, it’s “Tanu, don’t you have to finish your homework?”


Dad had brought this doll for me, you know, the one that shuts her eyes when she sleeps. It was my b’day present. But the little devil cried and cried until mom let her have the doll. Dad said he’d bring me another doll but I said no,” I don’t want a new one dad. Let her have it.” “Look how our Tanu has grown up into a big sister! ” dad had said proudly to mom. But of course you know dear Diary, what fun we had that night, don’t you? As the brat went to sleep, I had taken the doll from her and cut its head off with the kitchen scissors and then put it back under her blanket. I wish you had seen her face the next morning!


I’m not going to school tomorrow. My favourite Mohan uncle is coming with his two kids. I like Raju and Meenu a lot. They are such fun to play with! Nitu auntie’s Bunty is another devil, but OK type of devil you know, oldest among us cousins. He will be here too. I hope he doesn’t fight with Raju.


Good night dear Diary! See you tomorrow.



September 7, 2007

What fun we had today, dear Diary!


Mohan uncle and Neetu aunty arrived in the morning. Bunty did not beat Raju up. Mom and the aunties were busy with the b’day preparations so they did not bother us too. We all played hide-n-seek, except Anu of course. Who would want to play with that snotty little devil? Bunty said we should let her play but I said no, “She will cry any time and will spoil our fun”. She did cry at that. So mom took her into kitchen and fed her all the goodies uncle and aunty had brought with them.


You know the basement dear Diary, don’t you? The one where dad keeps all sort of junk and where I feel a little afraid to go alone. Well, we played hide and seek there this morning. It is not as weird as I had thought. Dark and damp and smelly, yes, but so many places to hide! When it was my turn, I could not find Bunty at all. I had to give up before he came out of that big steel trunk in the darkest corner of the basement. As a punishment, he made me crawl into it and closed the lid.


It was very cramped in there, dear Diary. I could not breathe and was panting when Bunty opened the lid in a minute or so. “How did you breathe in there?” I asked him. “You have to hold the lid a little open, you silly girl!” he said. I told you he is a devil, didn’t I?


Mom made a BIG cake for the b’day. In the afternoon, Bunty and others went to the park to play. But mom made me stay home with Anu. “Come back soon. Anu will cut the cake at six.” Mom told Bunty. Then I helped Mohan uncle with balloons and ribbons.


Around five ‘o clock mom dressed Anu up in that silly frilly dress bought specially for today and then left her in my charge as mom joined the aunties in last minute preparations. I asked Anu if she wanted to play the special game we played in the morning. She said yes.

“See this big trunk Anu? You climb into it and I close the lid. You count aloud up to ten and then I open the lid. Got it?” I asked her. She said she didn’t want to. “Don’t you know how to count up to ten?” I taunted her. That did it!

Mom asked me several times but I stuck to my story, “She said she wanted to go play with Bunty and others, so I let her go.”


Everybody was searching everywhere for the b’day girl. But I stayed in the drawing room, watching the big cake on the center table. Even if they find her, how are they going to open the big lock I had put on the trunk, I wondered, when its key is buried deep inside this cake!

It’s the b’day girl who cuts the cake, no dear Diary?


***

© Rajendra Pradhan

Soft

[A play on clich├ęs]

Heart in his mouth, he pleaded, "Don't leave yet honey! Who will clean this
mess? Just give me five minutes and I shall finish my meal."


"Don't you have any manners? Don't talk with your mouth full." She retorted.

"I have to hurry or else I will be late for Rhonda's birthday party. She has
promised to bring some deliciously handsome guys from her office to the party. I am staying over. See you tomorrow. And don’t forget to clean up after your
supper"; she added with a hungry gleam in her eyes as she put on the sandals.

Still with his mouth full, he called out, "Will you bring one of your friends
home from the party, dear? But let it not be a blonde. I like the brainy ones,
remember?"


"Don't crack bad jokes. May be I shall bring one of those handsome men!" She
quipped back.


"You can have all the fun you like darling. But me, I have strictly
heterosexual taste." He persisted.


“If you keep that up, one of these days I will have you by your balls, slowly
turning over on a barbeque”; she shouted back at him. The thought brought a
smile on her crooked lips as she closed the door behind her and hurried to her
friend's place, like a bitch in heat.


Inside, he went back to his supper. He chewed hard and cursed his wife, "The
slut has once again left the dish undercooked! These urban bitches! They are
hard nuts to crack, even in pressure cooker situations!"


Settling down here in this metropolis had been her idea. "Lots of easy prey
here darling, especially for us who know the art of hunting" she had said with a wink. She had been right. With so many birds of different feather flocking
together here, the metropolis had spiced up their lives with variety, he
conceded albeit reluctantly.


Like a lion in his native Africa, he let his wife do all the hunting while he
stayed home and watched the telly whole day sipping beer. Getting up only to eat when hunger, that was as unavoidable as death and taxes, hit him in his
potbelly. ‘But tonight, the bitch has left the cleaning job to me’, he muttered
angrily as he returned to his lion's share waiting for him on the kitchen table.


Ignoring the look of stupid surprise frozen on the blonde's dead face, he
looked inside the carcass. It was cold as a witch's teat.


"Pity she had such a small brain! Not enough even for a breakfast. And the
liver we already had, at lunchtime. No soft parts left anymore! She must have
been one of those aerobic freaks. No flesh on her bones to sink one's teeth
into, either. There is more meat on a chicken's forehead than on this dumb
chick!"; fretted the cannibal who had been softened by urban life, as he plucked out shreds of uncooked heart tissue from his teeth.




***

© Rajendra Pradhan

Friday, August 17, 2007

Don't Ever Get Caught

Don't Ever Get Caught
an inspirational tale

In ancient India, gurukuls were the learning centers where students stayed for years until they graduated. Unlike modern institutions, the students of a gurukul would pay their fees only at graduation time and it was called Guru Daxina. At one such gurukul, at end of the course, the teacher gathered all his students and spoke to them. "Students, I have taught you all I could. Now I want my Guru Daxina."

The rich among his students offered to pay money and gold, but the teacher declined. He said, "My dear students, you have learnt the sixty-four arts here. Thievery is one amongst them. I want you to practice it and steal something for me. But remember this, the guru daxina must be stolen. You are not allowed to earn, beg or borrow the amount for my daxina. You must steal it. The second condition is that nobody should see you while you are stealing. See you back here in seven days."

On the seventh day, all the students returned with their guru daxina. Some had brought gold coins, jewelry, expensive items et cetera, all stolen from their own homes or from elsewhere.

But one student hadn’t brought anything. The teacher asked him the reason, “Didn’t I teach you the art of thievery? Why have you returned empty handed?”

The student replied, “Sir, I could steal anything I wanted. But you said nobody should see me while doing that. Well, I MYSELF was always there, seeing myself whenever I attempted to steal. So I could not meet your second condition. Forgive me please.”

Needless to say, the student was the only one who had paid the guru daxina his teacher really wanted.

Freebie Freedom

it is that time of year again, to take a break
from pilfering, politicking and tax evasion
as from our beauty sleep we wake
the plastic people of a neon nation

neon nation is lit like a Christmas tree
its glory shines across a global sky
to suffer and die in dark they are free
the meek ones who never ask why

never ask why we hoist flaccid flags
and what the celebrations are about
the culture story may be riches to rags
but we have now big economic clout

economic clout and the digital glory
have taught us a new kind of wisdom
who needs to remember the struggle story
let us wallow in our freebie freedom

freebie freedom, for we know not the cost
under the lights though shadows remain
in those dark voids don't you get lost
come on pals, it is that time of year again


(c) Rajendra Pradhan
15th August 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Cigarette

she wanted to hawk
a naked left breast
for the price of a cigarette

I said, I can get twenty thousand for the price
so why don't you include the right one as well

after all,
it is unmarked
as yet



(c) Rajendra Pradhan

I see a post on the river

little paper boats set afloat
bobbing up
and down

breathing a lungful
of comments and swimming up
for a while
before sinking, finally
in the murky depthsof disinterest

hoping to be searched for
and born again
into another life
or network

(c) Rajendra Pradhan