It happens only in India. An event that should have and did evoke an unending surge of national pride, less than ten days later has become a crying shame. And who’s to blame? For once not just our politicians but definitely the media and worst – all of us – common folks with an addiction to airing half-baked opinions built on foundations of righteous indignation instead of fact and common sense.
Yes, the Uri attacks shook us, brought back memories of Pathankot, 26/11, myriad bombings across the country. Once again we felt weak, vulnerable, an impotent populace who could be violated and victimised at will, incapable of standing up for ourselves, far less hitting back.
And then the surgical strikes happened – it was like a dream come true, finally we’d stopped turning the other cheek and had actually giving a fitting reply to every terrorist who thought of us as easy game. Comparisons to Israel and the US slaying of Osama may have been us getting carried away but what the hell – we as a nation had been craving something like this so badly, we were entitled to crow a little bit.
Sure it might have made strategic and military sense to have just done the attacks and not broadcast it to the world which is how these things are usually done. But times are different. We had a defeated, despondent population who needed a morale boost, who needed to believe in our army, our country. Plus it afforded political mileage of the kind that no ruler could be expected to turn his back on. So fair enough.
What followed however is disgusting, deplorable and has revealed the worst side of everyone involved. Feeling proud, happy, celebrating – all of these are justified but did we stop at that?
Nope. What we descended to was a shameless exhibition of jingoism and faux patriotism. Or rather promotion of oneself as India’s biggest Nationalist by painting everyone else as filled with way less patriotic fervour. So if one didn’t plaster social media with declarations of how proud and happy they were, they were denounced as gaddaars
who belonged in a neighbouring nation. If you didn’t clamour for everyone actor/artiste from said nation to forthwith vacate this sacrosanct land of ours, damn it you were a traitorous wuss who had to be verbally or textually flagellated on prime time news or all time social media.
And then there was the other lot who decided to take political pot-shots by questioning the genuineness of the strikes. Their agenda may have been to tarnish the ruling party which by now was probably gleefully calculating the margin by which they would sweep a set of polls due in 2017. But did they ever stop to think how this would make our army look? Did they think about the soldiers who had risked their lives, their everything, to resuscitate the sullen honour of our country? And what about the families of the martyred soldiers, what about every other military person in the country – did anybody think how they felt when their acts of valour were dismissed as political grandstanding?
Actually how must they have felt when instead of focussing on the bravery and sacrifice of their brethren, all the news channels and social media citizens of the country could focus on was whether or not Fawad and Mahira should be issued marching orders?
This was a time for us to feel a sense of pride, and most importantly gratitude towards the armed forces, a time for positivity and good feelings. But thanks to the media, assorted celebrities, politicos not to mention people with endless time to tweet and update, it became a time of hatred and vitriolic attacks. All we could see around us was negativity. Worse if one’s patriotism and loyalty to the nation can be called into question by merely expressing a contrarian opinion, aren’t we descending into a paranoid, fearful zone, conjuring up memories of how life must have been in the McCarthy era or even in a land dominated by Nazis. How long before to prove we are true Indians, we have to tell on our neighbours and friends and accuse them of being traitors?
AFP PHOTO/Manjunath KIRAN
And all why? So that some opportunistic individuals wanted to derive maximum personal mileage from the bravery of soldiers they didn’t care two hoots about? Hence turning an act of valour into a self-propagation circus to try and get maximum eyeballs and followers? We found it abhorrent when TV stars did mock mourning after the Pratyusha suicide so as to get media mileage – how is this any different – in fact it’s a lot worse. Our journalists, our politicians, and we ourselves – we are guilty of contempt, disloyalty, disrespecting the country’s military and yes the nation itself. We shameless scroungers, scrabbling to get scraps of self-aggrandizement from somebody else’s sacrifice – isn’t this the real khoon ki dalaali