Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Taken for Granted – Making Security Our Responsibility

“The only time we ever think about breathing is when we have trouble doing it…” says Marty Klein, of Palo Alto, California.  There are some things we take for granted and never notice it till it is lost or endangered.  Security is one such thing, in the list of a Bhutanese.  It has been presented to us on a golden platter and we made it our right and never realized how we got it and what it took to get it and even more difficult, what it takes to maintain it.
                Sometime back, before the three notorious kidnapping cases of Sarpang, I was waiting for my turn of haircut at a barber shop that calls itself “Fashion Haircutting Saloon”, though there was nothing fashionable about the dilapidated hut that looked as if it will crumble down any moment or the variegated surface (formed as a result of the peeling off of the reflective coating or silvering material) of the half- broken barber’s mirror, or still the old hunchbacked barber, who needed a haircut himself.   In the “hot sit”, I mean the barber’s chair, was an Indian businessman getting his facial hair (my god hair seem to be growing from every inch of the face!) shaved.  Next in line was another man, supposedly a businessman, from the way they discussed business, or rather the lack of it these days.  (The following conversation took place in Hindi and I endeavoured to translate it.  My handicap in understanding Hindi may have resulted in the loss of essence in translation.  However, I gave my best and this is the best I could come up with)
                “I just took a great sigh of relief and had a grand lunch after a week”, the one on the chair said. 
                “Where have you been?”, the other asked.
                “I just came back from home.”
                Feeling a little weird, I thought to myself, what people are these, not feeling at home in their own homes.  I couldn’t help but butt into their conversation.
                “Sir, how is that you don’t really seem to be comfortable in your own home back in your own country.”
                Then they went on to explain how peaceful Bhutan is and that there is no fear of being robbed or extorted.  They said that they never took a breather till they entered the gates into Bhutan, on their travels outside Bhutan, be it business or for other reasons. 
                That was news for me.  I am sure that it may be true for many others like me, whether they accept it or not.  We took it for granted, like many other things that came to us easy.  We did not shed blood for it, at least not in our generation.  The December 2003 “Operation All Clear” was a testimony to our complacency, which was forgotten within weeks of it.  I doubt if many of us know the name of the operation, let alone remember it and remember those heroes, who made supreme sacrifices for the nation.
                When someone said “if you chop your own firewood, it will warm twice more” he has hit the nail on the head.  There is an indescribable pleasure and charm in indulging in your own fruits of hard labour.
                Of late things seemed to have changed a bit, at least for now.  The harsh reality of the situation in the last three months or so seems to have struck us hard.  But as usual, it won’t be long before it is forgotten.  We have that in our bloods.
                We are also very good at pointing fingers, which goes on to say that we don’t want to make it our responsibility.  Make it others' responsibility and wash our hands off.  In the latest incident of the abduction of a boy, people were heard, as usual, blaming the security personnel for not being able to save the boy.
                “Useless!” was the exact word they were heard uttering. 
                “How are the police or the security personnel in general, in a way to be blamed for the abduction?” I like to ask myself.  Did they, in anyway, facilitate it?  I don’t have any answer or answers.
                Eye witnesses to the scene say that, and understandably, there were a lot of people in the town when the incident took place.  They also vividly describe the scene, some poignantly, how they saw the boy being dragged.  Then what were all of them doing at the time?  If a few of them, just a distant possibility though, gathered around or followed the kidnappers, they were only two in number, or picked up a stone (the most basic of weapons our ancestors used!) each, there was a possibility that it could have been averted.  When they couldn’t do that simple act of picking up a stone, which there is no dearth in the area, how can they expect the police, to come all the way and be on time for the rescue?  It is also a common knowledge that the police force is not manned with the numbers it should be on a normal day.  And this is an emergency!
                Two wrongs don’t make a right and pointing fingers cannot be the solution to any problems.  It is time we realized that each and every one of us should be responsible for our own security.  Collectively this can contribute to the security of the nation as a whole, in a big way.  Passing the buck on to the others will take us nowhere.
                The fact, however bitter, should get into our thick skins by now that the days of spoon feeding are over.  Let’s all go out and chop our own firewood, so that it may warm us twice more and let us also end our lip services and practice what we preach.  Let us take care of ourselves, so that the country takes care of itself. 
                Let us make security “our business” and let the people who try to bungle with it think twice before making any further attempts at it. 

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