jin•go•ism / noun / [U] (disapproving) a strong belief that your own country is best, especially when this is expressed in support of war with another country <> jin•go•is•tic / adjective / [Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary]
I am a common man with just about average intelligence, someone who Americans would call an ordinary Joe who’s not a plumber. I haven’t quite got on in life, and to make matters worse, of late, I’ve been getting on in years. My son and daughter lovingly call me the oldie and I am not sure if my daughter-in-law too does.
This self-indulgent intro is just to tell you that if you wish, you can jolly well ignore what follows as an old man's ramble, bakwas!
During the last few days, ALL the 24x7 TV news channels (aren’t they actually 24x7/2?) have been talking almost only about Ajmal Kasab, one of the 10 terrorists who killed 174 people in 2008. To begin with, the speculation was around whether Kasab would be found guilty. Sadly, unlike cricket matches, bookies don’t decide the outcome of criminal cases. (Sadly for the bookies, that is.) He was found guilty. Then the debate turned into whether he would be given life sentence or death. No surprises there either. Chest-thumping public prosecutors and policemen congratulated themselves on their brilliant work leading to the death verdict (of the gun totting man who was clearly filmed by CCTV cameras and an intrepid photographer who risked his life to take the shot I have reproduced thanks to Wikipedia). Our TV channels, the conscience keepers of the nation, presented the story with the unmixed joy seen when India wins a cricket tournament.
But the debate is hardly over. The grave questions that are being debated threadbare are: (A) Whether the High Court and the Supreme Court will uphold the guilty verdict. (B) If they do – the public prosecutors will surely sweat blood to see that that happens – will they reduce the punishment to life sentence? (C) If the death sentence stands, will the President of the Republic show him mercy? (D) If she doesn’t, when he will be hanged! (E) And how?
Of the many impassioned commentators, let me mention one. Alyque Padamsee, a leading theatre man, demanded, with all the theatrical skills at his command, that mere hanging won’t do. Kasab should be given exemplary punishment. What was he hinting at? The man should be stoned to death at a public square, or maybe, at Brabourne Stadium? Ultimately, Padamsee suggested, in all seriousness, that a special jail be made in Lakshadweep (our own Guantanamo Bay?) where Kasab should be kept in solitary confinement and not allowed to meet another human for the rest of his life. With a twinkle in his eyes, Padamsee added, “He might even live another sixty years!” The salient feature of the punishment is – it was explained – the man must suffer!
The scope of the debate has been further expanded. In a discussion, anchor Barkha Dutt tried to impress upon her audience that India should not talk to Pakistan until that country has taken care of the terrorists there. That means, me thinks, never. I am waiting for the day when NDTV decides that India goes to another war against Pakistan.
One can understand the pain of the people who lost their near ones in the ghastly attack. It is perfectly normal that many of them want the harshest punishment for the mass murderer. A certain amount of anguish among the general public is also understandable. Although I respect the view that death penalty should be abolished, I don’t share it. I think Kasab deserves death.
But should we, can we pit a nation of one hundred and fifteen crore against a twenty-two-year-old misguided man? Are we not demeaning ourselves in the process?
07 May 2010