Monday, November 21, 2011

“Is the death of Osama Bin Laden the end of terrorism?” – An essay topic

The question itself seems to want to answer itself in the way it is asked. In order to question the question, we need to ask the following. Is Osama Bin Laden the only terrorist? Is he the cause of terrorism? We may arrive at a “No” for both the questions but our question here seems to want to make us believe otherwise. The question wants us to merely justify what it has already answered. Osama Bin Laden may provide a context for a tea time talk about terrorism but if we really want to understand what causes terrorism, we may have to look deeper. It might take a researcher to exactly tell what the causes are but using our logical mind we can definitely tell where to look for the causes. It is true when they say what you see is determined by what you want to see with the lenses you have. Today, our lenses have been tweaked with by our dear mass media so much that we seem to miss the reality as we are deliberately kept away from it.

Coming back to the question, framed differently, a question that doesn’t try to deliberately lead us somewhere, we may ask, “What causes terrorism?” Why would anybody want to terrorize anybody? What kind of life experiences one might have gone through to cause terror? Are terrorists born terrorists? Why do they become terrorists? Is it like the way most of us choose to become doctors or engineers? Now, for most of us, being a terrorist is something abnormal because our life experiences do not normally make us choose to become a terrorist. But hey, let us hold on and understand who ‘we’ are. We are a minority living in a highly protected environment, safely ignoring the world outside, having the luxury to discuss terrorism. And most often, we stop at discussing who the terrorists are with gory pictures of killings and bombings in our minds. It’s not by chance that this is so. Our media, which feeds us with a daily dose of the world stops there at these pictures and mysteriously doesn’t seem to go further. Coming back to ‘we’, taking India as an example, ‘we’ are at the maximum, 20% of India’s population. What do the remaining 80% discuss? Never mind.

In India, we are not unaware of terrorism. We do not have to be introduced to Mr. Osama to understand terrorism. The rising levels of naxalism in the country is no surprise. But all we read or hear about is how to curb it. Never mind why there is naxalism in the first place. 80% of India lives on less than $2 a day. How do they see the world? Do they discuss terrorism at tea time? We should ask ourselves how we would look at the world if we were living on less than $2 a day. Our mighty government keeps pushing the poverty line lower and lower so that we do not have to bother ourselves thinking of ‘them’. Even media protects our mind space from thinking about them. We seem to have drawn lines, their world and ours without even consciously accepting it. But the truth is that there’s just one world for all and everybody has to live together. By denying the majority their basic needs, a minority no matter how powerful is only short-sighted if it believes that the majority will accept its fate. Acceptance does not come easily when one doesn’t have enough to eat, talking at the minimum level. That is what is happening today. But we still don’t seem to see the time bomb ticking and we talk of the end of terrorism with Mr. Osama’s death.

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