The making of a terrorist

The Nepalese monthly magazine, Himal, publishes interesting articles which we miss in the Indian media. In the recent December issue, I noticed a couple of articles which are of interest to us. Rakesh Shukla’s interview with Stuart W Twemlow was held in the backdrop of recent Mumbai mayhem. The interview and this article on humour as a source of stress-relief, are well-timed considering that post-Mumbai the media is full of grim stories. This despatch from Kabul by an Indian journalist offers a critique of the stories currently carried by the Indian media. For a sample of articles suggesting disproportionate response, read this one. The author got the facts right, but is not clear what he wants the Government to do, apart from offering platitudes.

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  • I’m afraid the word “hysterical” might be too strong in referring to Arun Shourie’s piece. Whatever one’s political leanings are, it cannot be denied that Shourie always supports himself with a font of facts. It isnt necessary that he has to spell out what the Government has to do – that part is obvious – in light of the reams of material showing their prior knowledge that such attacks were likely, those responsible need to be summarily sacked. In my view that would be the Home Minister and the NSA.

  • Rupa Chinai writes:

    The Lashkar-e-Taiba or Al Qaeda may have incorporated them [the terrrorists], but it is our societies, both in Pakistan and in India, that denied them any other avenue. How do we now work to open up the spaces for dialogue and interaction with our minority and marginalised groups – that to my understanding, is the real challenge we face.

    This amounts to saying that the responsibility for terrorism is solely with the Indian (and perhaps to a lesser extent, the Pakistan) state. There is no doubt that the Indian state has a lot to answer for; yet to say that the terrorists do their brutal deeds because they are left with no other option is dangerous and even wrong. It amounts to excusing the terrorists.

    The motivations of terrorists are complex. As in the West, terrorists are typically not the “poor” or the worst victims of state terror. Terrorism as a phenomena is not even new. I recently came across one of the pulp writers of an earlier era, Edgar Wallace and I was surprised to see that terrorism figured as a concern even in the early 1900s; see, for instance, Wallace’s “The Four Just Men.” Note that the terrorists in Wallace’s novel are not the “colonised” of the British empire which might perhaps be understandable; rather they are the “anarchists.”

    I agree with Rupa Chinai about the need for better analysis rather than Arun Shourie’s hysteria which is rather characteristic of much of the English language media. But we don’t need apologia for terrorists either. As an Indian Tamil, I am familiar with such apologia. Typical of such apologia, they also start by talking about discrimination against Sri Lankan Tamils, the riots of 1983, the peaceful and democratic efforts of Chelvanayagam and so on – and go on to practically excuse the actions of the LTTE by saying that the Sri Lankan state had left no alternative.

  • Dear Gopal,
    Thanks for pointing out. I have edited my post, using the right word to describe Arun Shourie’s article.