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August - September 2006


Barbarians at the door? Or are they already in?

by Krishan Ralleigh

Arnold Toynbee has conclusively proved in his “A Study of History” that militarism has been by far the commonest cause of the breakdown of civilisations during the last four or five millennia.

The massacre in Mumbai of a couple of hundred people by a sophisticated and organised group, misguided and misinformed by a group of individuals from remote hideouts on the Pak-Afghan border, shows the barbaric nature of the enemy. You may call them terrorist, Islamic fundamentalists or simply barbarians whose pedigree may be traced to the Huns or the Mongols of earlier times.

In the last sixty years of Independence, India as a nation has become free, civilised and democratic, showing respect to all sorts of opinions and governing by consensus reflecting a substantial majority of public opinion. The conflict between barbarism and civilisation has always been governed by uneven rules, the latter always being limited by its very nature, to following the legal norms of war; whereas the former has no scruples in flouting them.

In a civilised society, a society based on ‘dharma’, the political and legal infrastructure cannot use the underhand methods as employed by barbarians. thus, initially, the civilised society may feel hopeless, and helpless before the onslaughts of the barbarous enemy, who is devious, remoreseless and unscrupulous.

The war in Kargil was an act of terrorism as are the bomb blasts in the trains of Mumbai. The enemy has always been known; but the governments in India, both NDA-led and UPA-led, tended to suppress the truth.

Militarism combined with religious fanaticism has been the policy of the rulers in Pakistan and of al-Qaeda who train and export terrorists to different parts of the world. What happened in Mumbai on 11 July 2006 is no different from what shook London on 7 July 2005 or the USA on 11 September 2003.

This brutal fact is known to the people in power in India. But unfortunately for India, Britain and the USA, they all have to respond within the constraint of civilised, democratic and legal infrastructure.

Sometimes, the people. when they find that the government is unable to provide them security, take the law into their own hands with tragic consequences. This happened in Gujarat in 2001, when a train compartment was burnt, killing scores of men, women and children. This may happen again in Maharashtra, if the government is unable to provide basic security of life to its citizens.

Anarchy in a country is a recipe for success to the barbarians whose aim is to destroy the civilised democratic system that provides peace and prosperity to its citizens. Now is the time that India should awaken to the dangers facing their nascent democracy. Muslims of India and their community leaders have to decide whether they choose a civilised democratic society to secure good living standards, bringing prosperity and religious harmony wihin the country, or a Taleban-like barbaric way of life in the garb of religious extremism. True religions are always tolerant. A true religion provides balance in life. Men of God, in every country and every religion are honest, kind, compassionate and forgiving. These are the divine qualities that bring humans nearer to God.

To judge on this criteria, the Islamic fundamentalists are neither Islamic nor ‘fighters for Allah’. The civilised Muslim community in India should provide no succour to these terrorist organisations. For in case of anarchy, the Muslims would suffer as much as any other group.

The government of India knows well that Pakistan’s military regime is supporting these terrorist organisations. George Bush’s futile dependence on Pakistan to end the Taliban’s stronghold in South West Afghanistan is bound to come to a sorry end. The monster was created by Pakistan with the help of the United States. It is India’s duty, as a strategic partner of the United States, to support the destruction of this monster. We hope it is not too late. The Mumbai blasts prove without any doubt that the enemy is already inside the country. As India enters the 60th year of her independence, despite the strides towards economic prosperity, the political structure is showing severe cracks.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a nationally televised speech,”Let me assure you that the government will do whatever is required to deal with the challenge. We will win this war against terror. Nothing will break our resolve.”

We can only say to the Prime Minister that a lot is required from within his own party and the country to face the challenge. The war against terror has to be won because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate. The war against terror has to be fought on all fronts. Internationally, India has to be on the side of civilised, democratic states. Nationally, Indian government should strive to bring unity among all its communities. The Congress-led government has so far failed on both fronts!

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