Following an attack by hundreds of Maoist guerrillas on a convoy of top state political leaders in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh on Saturday, an attack that killed at least 27 people including three leaders of the dominant Indian National Congress Party, India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, responded by calling the attack “a dastardly and anti-democratic act.” And he was joined in speaking by the Congress Party president, Sonia Gandhi, who labeled the ambush “an attack on democratic values.” “We are shocked, astounded and pained by the attack on our colleagues in Chhattisgarh,” Mrs. Gandhi said.
Were their words at all an appropriate let alone adequate governmental response to the killing? What, one wonders, did the leaders of the world’s largest democracy, encountering terrorist acts on their own soil, yet once again, mean by their choice of words? —’That civilized people don’t act in this way, don’t do dastardly things… why, how could they, how could they have done what they did, shame on them. That was anti-democratic.’
Poor India, I said to myself, what chance does the country have when their leaders reveal themselves so out of touch, so completely removed from the all too common reality of the modern world. Perhaps this is why so little is done in the country about the plumbing, or rather lack there of. The leaders are apparently blind to the hopelessly inadequate living conditions of their people. One wonders how they see, rather not see, their people’s lives.
In what country have these leaders been living? How, I asked myself, have Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi managed to isolate themselves from what’s happening, not only in India, but everywhere else in the world? Dastardly, anti-democratic acts? Is that what happened at Chhattisgarh? Do their words at all describe what’s going on in the world today? This kind of language, in the mouths of the English colonizers, may have been applied properly, say, to pirates of the 19th. century, but to terrorists of the 21st?