By Raghav Rathi
Terrorism. Better minds than mine have tried, and failed, to define terrorism. So let’s stick only to the literal meaning. Terror + ism: The doctrine of terror. Seems simple enough? Yet, it has boggled the whole world primarily because of two reasons: Firstly, a ‘terrorist’ in one country might be a ‘freedom fighter’ in another; secondly, certain states are known to sponsor such activities in other states. Both these reasons boil down to a lack of political will to come up with a universally acceptable definition of the malaise.
Today, India has a buffet of terrorist activities to deal with. Looking at the multiple challenges India faces, the figure of 23.6% of India’s youngsters who voted for it in the HT-MaRS Youth Survey 2016 as the biggest challenge facing India today, seems to be an understatement. One contributing factor to this can be that a lot of people do not put Naxalism and northeast insurgency under the head of terrorism.
Among the respondents, 34.2% have termed corruption as the biggest challenge facing India. At face value, it might seem so. We see, hear or experience corruption on a daily basis, whereas terrorism is something most people aren’t directly affected by. However, both the visible and collateral damages of terrorism are far reaching and permanent in nature.
Religion, unfortunately, is both a cause and an effect of terrorism. The differentiating line between religious intolerance and religious terrorism is blurred at best and non-existent mostly. It has been on the rise lately and leads to sidelining and further alienation of certain factions.
Economy is probably one of the biggest sufferers of terrorism. Apart from the obvious personal and property damage, to stop such activities from occurring in future, a massive increase in security and military expenditure is required. Most of the development activities in affected areas stop as people don’t want to invest in such volatile zones.
A new type of terrorism has been surfacing recently, very aptly termed as neo-terrorism, in an attempt to create a revanchist movement by re-kindling the dormant feelings of anger in the Sikh community. It idolises slain gangsters and considers terrorism as ‘swag’. This needs prompt tackling without unnecessarily or unwittingly aggravating the situation.
A more than six-decade-old fight -- with opponents that keeps evolving -- cannot be won overnight, but the steps taken by the new regime, including the surgical strikes definitely seem to be moves in the right direction. With that being said, it will still be some time before we can safely say that terrorism is not the biggest challenge facing India.
(Raghav Rathi is a 22-year-old Aerospace Engineering graduate and a UPSC aspirant, currently residing in New Delhi)