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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 1, December 20, 2008

Our Task Today


Sunday 21 December 2008, by SC


As Mainstream stands on the threshold of the fortyseventh year of its existence, the national scene resembles the one that prevailed at the time this journal was founded. Shortly after Mainstream made its appearance in 1962 came the perfidious Chinese aggression that tragically cut short the life of Jawaharlal Nehru, our first PM, and the nation was in the throes of a grave danger of disunity and destabilisation, while the future was full of uncertainty.

Likewise India today has been passing through a rough patch with terror strikes at regular intervals engendering an atmosphere of growing insecurity and uncertainty.

However, the latest terrorist depredations in Mumbai (November 26-29) were followed by a spirited citizens’ intervention that rapidly acquired an anti-politician dimension thanks to the antics of the Maharashtra politicians on the one side and the general loss of credibility of the average politician, perceived in the public mind as wallo-wing in large-scale corruption and criminalisation, on the other. Thankfully this intervention by all sections of society cutting across religious barriers has not in any way struck at national integration; rather it has strengthened national unity. In fact such a welcome public mobilisation has helped to bridge the political divide as well with Parliament adopting a unified stand to fight the menace of terrorism eschewing for once the game of one-upmanship so rampant among politicians of all shades. The results of the State Assembly elections have also demonstrated the maturity of the electorate which has refused to be swayed by cheap stunts to exploit the terror strikes for drawing political mileage.

At the same time the latest Mumbai terror assaults (that saw a handful of 10 jehadis holding the prime metropolis of the country to ransom for more than 60 hours) exposed gaping holes in our intelligence and security set-ups while dealing a heavy blow to India-Pakistan relations. There have been strident voices among influential segments of Indian public opinion calling for surgical strikes on terrorist training camps functioning on Pakistani soil. Any such step would result in considerable civilian casualties in all likelihood, and it would be construed by our western neighbour as an act of war thereby inviting reciprocal retaliation. The Government of India, while refraining from taking such a step, is legitimately concerned over the Pakistan Govern-ment’s passivity on and indifference to the issue of dismantling the infrastructure of terror on its territory and has thus concentrated attention on exerting pressure on Islambad to promptly close down those camps and take stern steps to suppress all the terror masterminds operating in Pakistan with or without state patronage.

There is no need for our country to slip into a jingoist mode. Such a reaction would only help the forces of terrorism and religious extremism in Pakistan whose object is to keep the peoples of the two countries in a state of permanent distrust and enmity. Rather, the bonds of friendship between the Indian and Pakistani peoples need to be strengthened in the days ahead to promote peace, democracy and progress in the region while fighting the dark forces of Reaction, obscurantism and terrorism in both countries. Every effort must be made to see that the democratic government in Pakistan is not weakened by any folly on our part. It needs to be also underscored that terrorism has no religion and this has been effectively brought out by the probe into the Malegaon blast revealing the nefarious role of saffron terrorists, the counterparts of jehadi terrorists.

At this critical juncture Mainstream pledges to throw its full weight behind any and every move to reinforce solidarity among the Indian and Pakistani masses to reinforce peace and democracy in our subcontinent. It also renews its resolve to pull down the walls of misunderstanding among forward-looking elements in the country so as to forge fresh cooperation against all communal and fissiparous trends and movements.

The international scene today is punctuated by the African American candidate Barack Obama’s spectacular triumph in the US presidential poll. This has generated a sense of allround optimism across the world as it is being interpreted as a resounding victory for the forces of peace and social progress in the global arena. After the bleak years of Bush presidency marked by blind reliance on unipolar unilateralism and the show of US might leaving the world more insecure than ever, this development has unveiled a new vista of hope which must be preserved and enhanced in the interest of world peace and progress.

In this venture too this journal promises to contribute whatever is possible within its limited means and capacity.

December 16 S.C.

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