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Saurav Mohapatra Presents:

Of Kneejerk Reactions and Wish Fulfillment Fantasies

Life imitates art, or is it the other way around? These days I can never tell. As I watched over the last couple of weeks, the latest spate of terrorist attacks on Mumbai, I was too angry to straighten out my clichés and figures of speech. I was angry cause this has become too much of a common thing these days. I remember reading pamphlets handed out to kids at school as early as the eighties back in India, not to touch abandoned transistor sets, teddy bears and such during the height of the Khalistan terror campaign.

As always the anger leads to depression, a feeling of complete impotence. As a writer there is always one outlet. One can write out what one wants. As a child, I always woke up shivering from weird nightmares. In order to deal with it, I started either writing out the nightmares or try to draw them on a piece of paper. Slowly they started going from being mere descriptions to a sort of preemptive strike narratives. As I read them again, I notice that the worst of my nightmares were dealt with simplistic brute force by the protagonist. Much like the way The ULTIMATES would deal with world terror.

I did it again this week. Seeing those horrible images on TV, I started typing away to keep my mind of it. It is not great stuff, but I was surprised to note that I was back being a ten year old again. Simply put I wanted payback and that's what my story got me.

From a narrative point of view, it is the simplest approach – the good guy makes sure the bad guys get their comeuppance right before you run out of pages.

But that got me thinking. Governments pretty much deal with terrorism the same way, like a comic book vigilante or John Wayne. Whether adopting a preemptive or reactive strike strategy, the bottom-line is to go guns blazing. Indian government is way behind on this too. After so many strikes, we still don't have a First Response strategy or a Federal Anti Terrorism Agency. May be its time to stop thinking about the War on Terror the way Punisher or Captain America would go about it.

One question that has not yet been asked in the wake of the Mumbai attacks is "Where did the money come from?" It costs a significant amount of money to stage an operation and run this level of logistics. So let's hope the anti-terrorism agencies around the world and especially in India, stop behaving like four-color macho men and start thinking like real cops. They should realize that (as in every crime) the real culprit hides at the end of the money trail. 


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