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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