We have been witness to some astonishing events in India, during the past few weeks, after the Mumbai terror attacks.
Bizarre statements have been made by politicians, movements and campaigns have been launched, totally opposing opinions have been voiced about the efficacy of Section 49-O, questions have been raised regarding the whereabouts of Raj Thakare during the terror attacks, and everyone has been blaming everyone else.
I am reminded of the fascinating book, Freakonomics, written by economist Steven Levitt and NYT journalist Stephen Dubner. In this book they “explore the hidden side of everything”. They throw out conventional wisdom and put forward unexpected answers to unusual questions.
In this book they have answered such questions as, “Why do drug dealers live with their mothers?” and “What do estate agents and the Ku Klux Klan have in common?”
Could these two geniuses find out the answers to some of the current puzzles of our Indian society, I wonder?
Sanjay Dutt, convicted of illegal possession of firearms acquired from terrorist acquaintances, wants to contest the coming elections, maybe joining the Samajwadi Party, maybe the Congress.
His wife represents Mumbai at a peace march at the Wagah border. Why do Indians support this?
What compels former CM Vilasrao Deshmukh to take along his actor son and a movie producer to the Taj Hotel on a “Terror Tour” ?
Why is everyone insisting that the terrorists worked completely on their own without any local assistance?
We can think of many, many more such questions that have come up in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack and in view of the upcoming general elections.
Could we find any “hidden reasons” for these, as Levitt and Dubner find for the unusual questions confronting them? Is there something here which is not readily visible to us?
But then, are these questions really unusual? Have we not seen these type of happenings, again and again, on the Indian scene? The actors may change, the venue may change, but the play remains more or less the same.
No, the questions are not unusual. The answers are not, either. But they are hidden behind the veils of hypocrisy, greed, political opportunism, and the necessity to be politically correct even if morally in the wrong.
The question that we, Indians, need to ask ourselves is, have we the courage to search behind these veils for the answers that are waiting to be discovered?