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Terrorism doesn’t shock us anymore!

If terrorism is ultimately tamed, it will be because India is India. The Jaipur blasts of Tuesday, despite the horrendous toll they have taken in terms of human lives, will have little or no impact on anything — policies, people’s lives, or the much-hoped-for communal polarisation. Terror no longer has the capacity to shock. It is nothing more than another bus tragedy or train mishap that we read about everyday — however callous that may sound. The law of diminishing returns has set in.
But there are more fundamental reasons why terrorism no longer terrorises us. One, in a country as large and diverse as India, no incident or cause is big enough to upset the whole population. Even within the same region or community, the diversity is large enough to absorb shocks of almost any magnitude. For example, the Kashmir issue has almost little resonance amongst Muslims elsewhere in the country. The cause of the Kashmiri Pandits — ostensibly a Hindu cause — has few takers outside the Sangh Parivar.
The second reason is the cellular nature of Indian communities — largely derived from caste, religious and linguistic affiliations. Unlike large monocultural ethnic groups like the Han Chinese or Japanese, India’s various communities are more narrowly focused in their sense of oneness. The Olympic torch issue may inflame all of China against Tibetans, but the large influx of Bangladeshis in India does not exercise most Indians too much. Maybe a Thackeray here or an RSS there, but certainly not the whole of India.
Indians’ narrow sense of community probably has casteism to thank for. It is fashionable to view caste only as an oppressive tool — which it certainly is — but that’s really not the defining thing about caste. Caste is community and trust within the in-group. Conversely, what happens outside almost does not concern the community. It is this aspect that insulates it from threats in the external environment. It is this aspect which also ensures that a murderous terror attack in one part of the country does not incapacitate some other part.
I am not saying terrorism targets castes, but the idea of caste (or narrow in-group) permeates our way of thinking and automatically narrows down our sense of the larger community. On the downside, this means we are callous about the sufferings of other human beings. A Jaipur blast does not anger Indians a few hundred miles to the north or south of the city. It seems like someone else’s problem. But you can be sure that within the narrower communities that are affected by the blasts, money and help will pour out in torrents.
Through the last several hundred years, caste has been both oppressor and preserver in the Indian context. The onslaught from the west may have brought in new rulers and different religions, but India’s various communities, largely grouped today under the banner of Hinduism, withstood it because Hinduism has no centre, no focal point. Its cellular structure has been divided by caste, and by religious and regional affiliations. It is worth noting that even when people converted from one religion to another, the cellular structures went along with them — which is why we have Muslim and Christian Dalits talking about extending reservations to themselves, even though there is theoretically no caste system in the two religions concerned.
The main thing about a cellular structure is that the destruction or decimation of one cell does not impact the other parts. Just as neutering one cell of the Al-Qaeda does not end the terror menace, the targeting of one geographical, regional, or physical part of India does not affect the rest of the country. India is seldom ripe for revolution for the same reason. At any point of time, the interests of one group work against the interests of the rest, and popular waves often sink in the sands. India’s cellular diversity is giving terrorists a hard time. They won’t — rather, can’t — win here.

From: DNA Newspaper dated 15/05/08
Blast after blast, terror is losing
by R Jagannathan


2 thoughts on “Terrorism doesn’t shock us anymore!

  1. i am not agree with the comment u have put on ur website.what is the meaning of tolerence power or diversity that does not effect means we must watch every blast with ease that it does not effect our large community.what a ridiculious statemennt it is.we must introduce POTA for erracting terrorism and terrorist.don’t be communist an abberiviation of an indian.proudy indian.


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