30 November, 2008

Be Votebank. Be Heard.

From past 3-4 days, I have sensed anger. Everywhere. Anger which is coupled and matched with helplessness. A feeling of being betrayed and failed by the state.
But everyone is also afraid that all these anger may be diminished in next few months and we will start living in the wait of another attack.

But now is the time, when we must resolve to make our voice heard. Make ourselves counted. In AP, everyone loves Loksatta party but it doesn't win a single seat. Because we,  the members of  'civil society' don't go out to vote. In this world's largest democracy, only votebanks are counted, heard and considered. And if we have to be counted and our lives and our views respected we will have to become vote banks.

We will have to go out and vote in coming assembly and then general elections.

And that's why we have started a new online campaign: Be Votebank. Be Heard.

Download any of the logos/banners on this blog: http://shabdaarth.blogspot.com/2008/11/blog-post_30.html and put in your blog/site and spread the word. Not only this slogan spread the word about voting but also is a sarcasm on the votebank politics in this country.

You can download the images logos from these links as well:

Let's have more say in this country is governed and let's show these politicians that they can't have us taken for granted and that our lives matter!

Remember: Army and NSG killed those who came by boat. We will have to take care of those who come by Vote!

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29 November, 2008

Be Angry. Be Very Angry.

The terrorists are back. Innocent people are killed. Heroes are martyred. Politicians mumble platitudes. It feels like this is never going to stop.

Not unless we take matters into our collective hands. And that means all Indians, as one. No divisions, no implicit partitions. Nothing that allows loopholes for terrorists to slip through.

First, demand accountability. File your RTI applications, petition your elected representatives. Make a nuisance of yourself until you get an answer, even if it be "I don't know" or "Nahin batayenge."

Second, use the power of the web. Communiate - thoughts, doubts, questions, ideas. Let's build a consensus on what works.

Third, fight corruption. Especially black money and processes that link to black money. That's what funds terrorists - and their accomplices who make our borders and coasts porous, our cities vulnerable, our loved ones defenceless, our brave soldiers martyrs.

Fourth, fight discrimination. Stand up and make yourself heard unless you support the new Hitlers who seek to create disunited, disjointed Us and Them sub-Indias, Hindus and Muslims, Domiciled and Inter-state Migrants, Gujjars and Meenas, Haves and Have-nots. The latter become prime targets for terrorist recruitment, and mutual distrust between groups creates grey zones in space and time that militants freely exploit.

Finally, vote. Make a choice, even if a sub-optimal one.

To fight terrorism, we must first fight corruption, communalism and casteism. Else there will always be loopholes for terrorists to slither through.

Empowerment is never given, it is always taken. Someone took our Bombay; we must now take back our India.

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Another Attack, aimed at our heart

I assume that the silence here on this blog against terrorism is mainly due to the disbelief that we are struck with. What is going on in Mumbai right now is beyond belief and imagination. In fact all that has happened to this country this year is also rather beyond imagination. And yet it is very true and very real. As real as the number of people dying by the minute right now. To me the real question is how was this possible? How is it, that in spite of so many terrorist attacks this year, we are not able to tighten our security system?? Is it because there are too many of us in India that we ourselves don't care how many of us are killed? I don't want to blame the government. Not because it is not responsible but because we ourselves are responsible for the government. And frankly after the PM's speech post this terror attack, I don't have much hopes. I think the ultimate responsibility is in our own hands. We need to be more cautious. More curious. In fact I would suggest being paranoid. Its not a safe world we are living in these days, so why pretend to? We need to ask questions. keep our eyes open for the least bit of suspicious thing we come across here and there. And if there is anything I want from the state, it is to take the people of the country seriously. To help us when we ask for help. Hoping that we do ask for help. Because the worst form of terror within the people of a country is helplessness and hopelessness. I want us to fight against these feelings. Together.


12 November, 2008

sarva dharma sama bhava

A short interview with Dr. Gunvant B. Shah about his views on secularism. Dr. Gunvant B. Shah writes weekly columns for 'Divya Bhaskar', 'Chitralekha' and 'Navneet Samarpan'. He is a social commentator and has published several books and lectures all over the world in Gujarati.

Please read

sarva dharma samabhava

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03 November, 2008

The Supply Chain for Terrorists

Terrorists need 5 ingredients for creating mayhem - Madness, Machines, Method, Money and Manpower.The first starts the process; the next two can be readily obtained thanks to the power of the internet. This means that all we can influence, as citizens with fundamental and constitutional rights, are Money and Manpower.

Where Money is concerned, every individual who participates in Corruption is a contributor to terror funds. Cash paid or received in property deals and off-market stock trades pushes up property prices; it allows terror financiers to invest and cycle their profits quickly. Tax evasion usually connects to investments in property, gold and high-end capital goods, and again it is usually the underworld that benefits. How many people take a "black component" for granted when buying or selling property? Why must we? Something as simple as insisting a tax invoice when buying goods at your neighbourhood store can help check evasion. How many of us do that?

Similarly, any documents that can serve as identity or address proof obtained "through extraneous financial considerations" - such as passports, ration cards, driving licences... (the list goes on) allows and encourages loopholes in the system that a terrorist can exploit equally well, if not better.

Come next to Manpower. Every action that divides the people of the country and creates special privileges for someone will make someone else feel disadvantaged and deprived - and eventually a candidate for the recruitment machinery of the terrorists.Whether such actions be attacks on Churches, explicit and implicit Untouchability, fragmentation of society through reservations, pogroms against other citizens of India who have exercised their fundamental right to cross into and work in other states. All who perpetrate the paradigm of "Us and Them" are feeding, clothing and sheltering terror cadres. All who fail to speak up against such divisive forces are allowing new terrorists to breed, much like what happens when one fails to stamp out a solitary cockroach that can eventually be the ancestor of teeming hordes.

In a democracy, there is only one overarching way to act positively. Seek constitutional accountability and redressal. Demand clear positions from your candidates on issues. Use your vote - even if it means choosing the lesser of evils on a ballot paper.

Use the power of boycott - take positions against brands and corporates that support those who support terror. Attend shareholder meetings and ask what each company that you part-own has done to fight corruption.

Publicly - at least through blogs and petitions - question any injustice that you notice - whether the denial of a ration card to an old man in West Bengal because he is not a party member, or the unwillingness of the state machinery to decisively arrest and prosecute those who inflame passions against peaceful people having out-of-state origins.

Use the Central Vigilance Commission whistleblower option or write to the Anti-Corruption Bureau to take action against those that seek to subvert your rights and hold them to financial ransom.

At the very least, stop participating in casual conversations that place special interest groups of any sort above India as a unified entity. Else you will be partitioning India over and over and over again through your words and actions. The ripple effect of that could drive another deprived young man or abused teenage girl into the arms of insurgents. There are no Muslim terrorists, Hindu terrorists, Sikh terrorists. Terror knows no religion, yet we legitimize them by labelling them with the names of communities that were created in the name of love, peace and devotion... let's stop that right now.

By cutting corners in paying taxes, or going down the path of short term personal gains at the cost of the nation by participating in the black economy, or simply sowing the seeds of inter-group distinctions in impressionable minds, one could be facilitating the next bomb blast. Perhaps one that will strike one's own near and dear ones.

Are you a part of the terror supply chain development process, or will you stand up and pledge to fight it, starting now?

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