At the end of every crisis we discover that we are unprepared for it and whatever little we do, appears to be a knee-jerk reaction always falling short of what the situation demands of us. So, it is not surprising that we are witnessing an unprecedented outpouring of anger and resentment against politicians, who are now being seen as symbols of self-aggrandisement, power, accountable to no one and devoid of any sense of responsibility to the citizens.
Even as we were coming to terms with the attack on Mumbai, we found ourselves full of admiration for the uniformed personnel as well as a growing — disconcerting — feeling that these men are the deserving guardians of the nation’s
integrity and security. It is being surmised that while the National Security Guards (NSG) are imbued with the ideal of defending the nation, the politician has been reduced to someone who is ‘anti-people’.
While we all understand where it all comes from, we also have a feeling that this is one of the many things the terrorists are striving to do: demoralise the nation, leave us divided and frustrated. We do need to ask hard questions not only from politicians but also from all the institutions shaping our lives. We certainly need to expose the complete ineptitude that has crept into every system that is meant to govern us.
Yet, it does not seem right at this juncture to arouse fury and scorn. We all need to sit together and weigh the options before us. More importantly, let's not give credence to extreme solutions such as ‘carpet-bombing’ our ‘enemies’. These will bog us down in a vicious cycle of striving to address the many ‘perceptions’ rather than come up with systemic explanations and, if necessary, the total overhauling of the system.
We have an opportunity today, with the national elections around the corner. Let us work out a citizen’s manifesto. Citizens’ groups in Bengaluru, after the terrorist attack there in July 2008, felt the urge to salvage their city from the terrible morass it was getting into. Let us take a leaf out of their example, engage each candidate with all the issues that are affecting us. Let us work out the terms of partnership between civil society, communities and political representatives. Let us not abate the desire to search for just and meaningful governance and clinch this opportunity to take our concerns forward.
Sharmila Tagore is Chairperson, Censor Board of Film Certification.