I have a question – and I feel I need an answer.Do we really have a leader in this nation? Or, to phrase it better, does this nation have a leader – since ‘we’ as a pronoun for our nation doesn’t carry much meaning nowadays. Nonetheless, that is how the question stands: does this nation have a leader/leadership?

On November 26 in Mumbai, somewhere around 9 pm in the night, some men – and we still do not know the exact number – entered the cosmopolitan city ‘Mumbai’ through the sea. They were carrying a lot of explosives – enough for them to have orchestrated attacks at 11 different sites in the city, and then fight off a combined operation of the Mumbai and Maharashtra police, the National Security Guard, the Army and the Navy for atleast 59 hours . With this much in arsenal, they landed undetected at the Gateway of India.. Soon, the entire world watched as they attacked the sites that symbolize the city itself – the Taj hotel, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the rest.

The whole world watched as they attacked our sense of national identity.

A slap right and tight across our faces – look, this is what we can do to you, and we know that you can’t do anything to us…nothing at all!.

I missed the ‘action’ at night, and by the time I woke up on the 27th, my family had been watching the proceedings on live television for quite some time. My father was furious – a sentiment I think a lot of us Indians shared – over the fact that some ten to twenty men or so could actually walk in, and do whatever they please. Well, apparently, they can.

And the reason for the same isn’t too far to seek.

For the rest of the day, I witnessed the proceedings on television. Amongst the politicians, L. K. Advani it seemed was too numb to be actually speaking; Sonia Gandhi read out what she must have memorized for the 2001 attacks on the Parliament or some other terrorist attack, and much later in the day, our eminent and learned Prime Minister spoke the way kindergarten kids do for the first time on stage. Apart from these leaders, there were none who had the guts to come out in the open and damn these traitors – traitors of humanity. Why wasn’t there even one person who could stand up and cry in one ringing baritone, “B*****ds, we aren’t afraid of you – we’re going to get you – dead or alive!”? R R Patil, the deputy CM and Home Minister of Maharashtra, made one or two brief appearances, confirming nothing but what we already knew, and Shivraj Patil, the Union Home Minister, was seen squabbling like a first-time news reporter rehearsing before he actually spoke.

I think more people will agree with me on this than disagree. Where is a man who has the spine? Who can actually come out and save the nation? Let us face it, we have no one. We are a fatherless nation – a country bereft of one real man. What we do have are political mites – people like Raj Thackeray and his band of cohorts, who will scream and hail Raja Shivaji at the drop of a hat when they think that North Indians have taken away their livelihood. So, Mr Thackeray, where are you right now? In which cowardly hole have you hidden yourself, too afraid to come out? Or is it that what these people have done does not affect you and your livelihood? Is it that your call to the ‘manus’ is restricted to spewing venom and hatred? If you were really concerned, if you were really with any strength, and, what is more than anything else, if you were indeed a man, you would have been there out on the streets right now, leading your people, and, if nothing else, raising the morale of our real heroes – the Army, the Navy, the NSG, the Police – as they fought a hidden, disguised enemy. Had you done that, you would have elevated yourself from a petty vote-monger to a real leader of men – and believe me, a hundred sins forgiven.

But why grieve over what never happened? That, my friends, is the irony. We are now to grieve the fact that we could not stand up to these men, more than grieving the consequences. Ask yourself, isn’t this thing too much of a shame? Not more than twenty men, carrying apparently more than a ton of ammunition, have holed up in some locations in the city – and we wait? They move freely, destroy all that they see fit, and all we do is wait? Why does it take the greybeards who sit at the top nearly 15-20 hours to actually send in the Army? Was it too much of a decision to take, especially after we had lost three of our finest officers in the night itself? Like Times Now asked, how many people must die before these morons will actually begin to take things seriously?

Speaking of Times Now, I must commend their coverage, and the earnest job done by the news-presenter Arnab Goswami. For nearly the whole day, he was on-air – except for the one, maybe two, breaks he took – but there was no commercial on the channel. And though that may seem like making a mountain out of a mole, almost all other channels did have them running. There were channels running everything from normal advertisements, to movie trailers, to even election propaganda. However, the supreme moment of the irony was when, on its news ticker, NDTV India went to the extent of displaying, ‘Bharat Ki Jeet’, in reference to India’s victory at the Cuttack ODI against England. For sarcasm, they couldn’t have chosen a better headline; for sheer moronity, they couldn’t have chosen a better time. Getting back to Times Now, somewhere around 8 pm yesterday, they had in their studios Alyque Padamsee, Farooq Shaikh, Shefali Shah, and at another location, Suhel Seth. While Mr Shaikh shared the syndrome with Mr Advani, Mr Padamsee was adamant on pointing out the lack of professionalism in everything Indian, and Ms Shah was waxing eloquent about citizen shared responsibility – which just led me to understand that you can take a person out of South Mumbai, but you can’t vice versa.

Amongst this rot was Suhel Seth. And for once, a very, very angry man. While questioning everything we do in hushed whispers otherwise, and on pulpits when struck by tragedy – the system, the police, etc. he went to hail on national television that the channel, and the Times of India, should actually run a campaign. A campaign that would call for a boycott of the forthcoming elections, an appeal for a national emergency, and continuous battle till we actually weed out this nuisance, or empower ourselves to defend against such violence. He went on to question why Mr Advani and the PM couldn’t share an aircraft to convey unity to the people. Who would you call “cowardly” – without prejudice – these people who have stormed into the city and are fighting the entire defense mechanism of our nation, or these ‘leaders’ that we have – who haven’t dared to speak?

Honestly, how can these leaders encourage citizens to do anything? After what we saw today, do you think we would be able to vote for any of them? But then, even if we do declare an Emergency, who would do the doing then? Do we have some valor, some steel left in the political system anymore? Where is Rahul Gandhi? Where are they, the stars of tomorrow? Milind Deora, the MP from South Mumbai, was there. Grief-stricken, for sure, but where is the character? No one to stand up to these fidayeens? No one to proclaim, and hail the cause of Liberty? As Arnab did specify on the show, if tomorrow our armed forces were to arm themselves with a similar quantity of such ammunitions as these terrorists and begin hunting them down, the first objections would come in from our home-bred ‘humanitarians’. Case in point, the Batla House, where instead of praising the martyrdom of officer Mohan Sharma, a leading female author, as Arnab put it, was there with a leading litigator calling for ‘human rights’.

I was thinking on these lines the day before, and a fact struck me. A fact that is too horrendous in its vilification, but one which carries on it the seal of History. Something that we should be afraid of, and yet something that, slowly but surely, becomes an inevitability each passing day. The fact is that it is in times such as these that there rises an Adolf Hitler. It is in times like these – times of unrest, times of crises, times of suffering. Germany, post-WW1, poor and crumbling. No effective governance, rich few and poor many. I needn’t tell you what happened next.

Cuba. Oppression. Humiliation. Fidel Castro.

Idi Amin. Pol Pot. Adam Sutler.

In case you are wondering who the last character is, he was the dictator in the Wachowski Brothers’ “V for Vendetta”, a movie in which the protagonist V attempts to create chaos, release anarchy, and remind the people of their basic freedom. That, precisely, is the situation that may arise, when we do allow a Hitler to arise. History has no dearth of names. But are we ready to face up to history? Are we ready to show ourselves as worthy enough to defy it, or even alter its course? Are we empowered enough to ensure that our Hitler comes, removes poverty and unemployment, and leave? Are we sure that we won’t allow a tyrannical Sutler to take this country for ransom?


That is the sorry answer. For in this country, the youth is too busy hanging out at pubs and clubs, and enjoying marijuana. They are too busy changing their Levi’s as and when the fashion changes, and ensuring they have the cool look – the right sneakers, the right shades, and the right accent. Of course, the country has got to change, but sorry dude, waste someone else’s time – I am off to scream! They must obviously do this, after all, this is the “in” thing – and they have to be a part of their society.

A word about our middle-class – the great heroes of our economic rejuvenation. I can think of thousands of people working their socks off the five days for some big shot company and then on the weekends, going to all the bigger malls in shorts, making super purchases by the dozens – most of them things we can’t even pronounce (and neither can they). Talking to their children in perfect, immaculate, accented English. Watching movies in multiplexes – in their shorts, of course – and then, having supper (not dinner) at some plush bistro (no longer restaurants) and ordering fancy stuff made of similar fancy ingredients as they had purchased – neither of which they can actually pronounce, or digest. They must obviously do this, after all, this is the “in” thing – and they have to be a part of their society. Any kind of Revolution can wait.

The elders are too out-dated to deal with this nuisance. With all due respect to our leaders, we actually saw their capability – real time, and on air. The sad thing is that the world saw it with us, and I don’t know how long it will be before the bubble about “India” bursts. They will wax eloquent about Hindu terrorism and Muslim terrorism, and talk about reservation as the need of the hour. Talk about implementing recommendations that have as their base censuses conducted more than half a century ago. They must obviously do this, after all, this is the “in” thing – and they have to be a part of their society.

Where will regeneration come from?

Where will the leader be?

As V says in the above mentioned movie,

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their Government,
Governments should be afraid of their People”

Let us prove it!

Abhimanyu Jain


[Image Source: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/11/26/world/26mumbai-600a.jpg]