Sunday, November 22, 2009

On the Mumbai attacks

The news channels are all saturated with remembrance of the Mumbai terror attacks. As I watched the tributes to the martyrs of the day, I couldn’t help but wonder how little things had changed since those three terror-filled days.

The Mumbai attacks were supposed to be our wakeup call. The moment when middle-class India threw off its coat of indifference and embraced the task of nation-building. The time when the nation sunk its differences and came together to fight as one. The clarion call for more professionalism in our police, and indeed, in our government.

Unfortunately, all those hopes have been belied. Six months after the candle-light vigils at the Gateway of India, the middle-class voted overwhelmingly at 40%. If anything, the last two elections have proved that Mumbaikars, (or Bombay-ites, if I may, with deference to the MNS) like their other city counterparts, prefer a vacation over a vote. We are still as divided, on language (witness the Hindi oath taking controversy), on religion (the Vande mataram controversy), and on political lines. We are as intolerant as ever, as unprofessional as ever, and continue to ignore those who try to protect us from such terror. The one terrorist who was caught is still alive, and the ones who messed up during the attacks are back in power, along with the cynicism of appointing the same person who was fired over the Mumbai attacks back as Home minister.

Before I end though, I do want to add a note about the media adulation of the three cops who were martyred that day. If you dispassionately analyze the scene, you’ll realize that these cops charged in without thinking, without examining the situation, and ignoring all their training. You could also ask why Hemant Karkare did nothing about the crappy bullet-proof jacket he was given. Or why three senior officers of the Bombay police were together in one car during such a moment. Or why they underestimated the opponent and were martyred, I presume, without firing a single bullet?

The true police hero of the Mumbai attacks is Tukaram Omble, someone our channels have almost forgotten. Not caring for his life, or the fact that he was unarmed, he fought a deadly terrorist armed with an AK-47, who pumped bullets into him even as he held on, giving the other cops an opportunity to capture him alive. Alive. Think about how strong India’s case against Pakistan has become because Kasab was captured, not killed.

May their martyrdom not go to waste.

Friday, November 06, 2009

HR talk

Isn’t it funny the way HR folks speak? I mean, they typically say a lot without actually saying (revealing) anything. They never commit, never say no, and always talk as though they have your best interests at heart while ignoring the import of your words.

Do they speak the same way with their families? What if they did? Here is a possible scenario:

Child: [Mommy/Daddy] I want a bicycle

HR Parent: In the current recessionary economy, it will be highly irresponsible to expense recreation items that do not have long lasting value.

Child: Does that mean no?

HR Parent: We will consider the request at the first opportunity of economic revival and revenue growth in the family.

Child: But all my friends have them!

HR Parent: As a family, we aim to be in the top 65-th percentile of “having” things. We believe that our commitment to our children’s growth, our healthy living environment and wonderful family culture contribute to a scenario…

Child (Interrupting): ARRGH! I hate you!

HR Parent: Such strong emotions are uncalled for. We believe that we have taken the right actions given the economic environment. Further…

[Child storms out.]

[Disclaimer: These views are personal, do not reflect the opinions of my employer and are not based on any specific person or institution, living or dead.]