D.P. SATISH writes from New Delhi: When news broke of the arrest of two Bangalore boys for the failed attack on Glasgow Airport, a friend asked me, “Hey, what is happenning to your IT city? I can’t believe a peaceful state like Karnataka can send terrorists to the UK.”
I didn’t have to think too hard to reply: “Bangalore is the outsourcing hub of the world, and terrorism is just the latest dish on its menu. IT stands for Information Technology; now it also stands for International Terror”.
My response surprised her.
Brand Bangalore is a new link in the global terror network. Or is it just an exception? The West is shocked its “vendor city” has developed the audacity to challenge it with bombs and highly qualified bombers. Even chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy admits the recent incidents have brought a bad name.
But anybody who has a fair idea of Karnataka’s socio-economic life, and its troubled communal history, can cut through the hype and hysteria and understand what is happening.
Some old assumptions about Bangalore and the southern states need to be instantly thrown away.
Till the early 1990s, Karnataka was seen by northerners as a place where their children could go and study medicine and engineering. Bangalore, 2,500 km from Delhi, was not all that important for the central government and the so-called “national” media for which the world didn’t exist beyond Lutyen‘s Delhi.
The economic liberalisation of the 1990s altered those perceptions overnight.
Karnataka and its booming capital Bangalore appeared on the world map with a bang. Bombay, Delhi and other cities started to look like dull places before the glamour and influence of Bangalore. Foreign heads of states started to arrive directly in Bangalore leaving the big cities sulking.
Indian and international media started to present a rosy picture of the city. The IT and BT companies and the BPO sector did their best to make Bangalore look like the greatest destination in the world for moneybags.
Thomas L. Friedman came all the way from New York to chart Bangalore’s miraculous journey from Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and garrison city to a global outsourcing hub in his bestseller The World is Flat. He can now add terror outsourcing when he writes his next edition.
It is true that Karnataka is rich when compared to other states in India. But it is no utopia, as portrayed by the media and corporate interests.
Karnataka has witnessed countless communal clashes after Independence. The State has provided a fertile breeding ground for both the Muslim and Hindu fundamentalist forces. All kind of Hindu and Muslim fundamentalist forces have strong presence in the state.
They live in resentful proximity.
A former chief minister privately admitted to me that at least 1,500 had died in communal clashes after 1985. It led to communal polarisation and the rise of the BJP and the fundamentalist Muslim elements in a big way.
Muslims in Karnataka are much better off than their counterparts in the north. Tall public figures hail from this community. Muslim writers, poets, educationists, bureaucrats, politicians,sportspersons, teachers, businessmen have been contributing to the state and its public life.
Karnataka has a very rich Sufi culture. Its Muslim influence dates back 800 years. Many Muslim dynasties have ruled Karnataka. According to the Justice Rajinder Sachar panel report, Muslims constitute 11 per cent of the population of the state, and their share in the government jobs is more than 8.5 per cent.
Nearly 70% of the Muslims have access to formal education. This is a good record when you see figures from other states.
Nearly half a million Muslims from the state work in the Middle East and sending millions of dollars back home. While all this suggests Muslims have no ground to feel alienated, we shouldn’t be surprised that well-off Muslim youth are joining bomb squads to create an Islamic world and take on the ‘Satan’ West.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, disconnected from the hard realities of life, talks only about economic growth. Neither he nor his intelligence set-up (many of them are retired and senile bureaucrats) has noticed any Islamic radicalisation among the educated and well-off Muslims south of the Vindhyas.
Many IB ‘agents’ assigned to gather information on terror activities spend their time at Press Clubs or ouside somebody’s house, talking to ill-informed people.
Globalisation and terrorism have close links. Perhaps one product that used to move freely from one place to another even before liberalisation was terror. Extremist organisations set up their globalised networks much before our governments opened their doors to global markets.
The BBC’s terrorism correspondent Phil Rees‘ book ‘Dining with the Terrorists’ analyses the problem brilliantly.
More recently, a study of 172 Al Qaeda terrorists done four years ago by Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist and former CIA case officer in Pakistan, found that 90 per cent came from a relatively stable, secure background. Most were from middle-class or upper-class families, and were college educated professionals.
Sageman’s findings, published in 2004 in Understanding Terrorist Networks, led him to conclude that “most of these men were upwardly and geographically mobile”.
He wrote: “Because they were the best and brightest, they were sent abroad to study. They came from moderately religious, caring,middle-class families. They spoke three, four, five, six languages.”
Unlike the lone serial killer, these men functioned well in groups.
Indeed, isolated in a foreign country, they depended on a close circle of friends who reinforced their beliefs. Ask Sageman to name two likely professions for a second-wave terrorist and he selects “engineers and physicians”.
“What makes people like engineers or physicians try to work for the good of society is the same impulse that makes people sacrifice their lives for the sake of a community, (in this instance) the ummah (the global community of Muslims),” he said.
Sageman’s findings answer most of our questions related to how and why these three Bangalore youth joined the web of terror. A major technology hub like Bangalore is the best place to rope in such people for terrorist activities. It is a fact that they can’t get such people from the poor Northern states.
But 14 crore Muslims in India and close to 7 million Muslims in Karnataka shouldn’t be asked to pay the price for the mistakes of a few misguided Muslim youth.
Terrorists have no attachment to a place or country. They have a purely globalised mind! It would be foolish to brand a country or a city as a terror hub just because two or three men took it into their heads to blow up an airport.
Globalisation is a Western euphemism for greed. It has given birth to a sophisticated form of global terror. Brand Bangalore is a vital participant in globalisation. With the fruit comes the seed, and it can be awfully bitter. Bangalore in particular and India in general can’t escape from it.
Here Rudyard Kipling‘s words become most relevant: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster at the same time. And treat these two imposters just the same.”
Read the original version of this piece here: More Bangalore for your buck
Also read: How terror, too, was outsourced to Bangalore
Wonder what Friedman has to say now… His constant refrain/thesis earlier was that terrorists come from lands that digged just oil wells (like saudi arabia) and not those that digged into the minds of people (like bangalore – and he did cite bangalore as an example – where people are stimulated to work and progress). Guess terrorists can come from anywhere now.
idenu hosa theory na?
shanka dinda koTrene theertha anno haage, unless a theory involves globalization, it is invalid. saar gurugaLe, Tippu sultaana brought globalization even before friedman’s great great grand father was even conceived. even before that globalization was conceived when the concept of universal brotherhood was proposed, when religions began to spread, when idealogies began to spread. after all marxvaada is not a swadeshi idea, but just like coca-cola has sucked resources from india and fed us poison. And I am pretty sure, burning the cheap buff paper on which these pamphlets are printed make for excellent pesticides and the images of peoples leaders can find good use on fences to scare animals away.
Anyway this universal brotherhood bussiness, it allows a bangalore boy to imbibe alien sensibilities and make them his own. a sense of victimization even when it is not his own, to sense a struggle even when it is not his own, a sense of idealogy even when he has no empirical observations or experience of it, and a sense of triumph even when he has no experience of it.
for example, the hammer & sickle people also are subject to the same theory. based on a globalized notion of struggle and victimization & triumphs they entertain fantasies of utopia of shangri-la.
others entertain ideas of jannat, of heaven on earth, chosen people, chosen land, akhand universe & other rubbish based on their own globalized ideas.
Friedman says “Terrorists have no attachment to a place or country. They have a purely globalised mind.” We should believe him! Wonderful!It is a contradictory statement. That’w why they indulge in heinous activities going out of their country harming the innocent people. And again i they are narrow-minded fellows. If at all they had thought of the consequences they would have bothered about the universal brotherhood and peace. It has become a fashion to use the terms globalisation, liberalisation etc. When you cannot see a thing in its proper perspective take shelter under such words. When you are invited by a guest to his house you should know your limits……
I suppose when journalists get too lazy to actually do any work, they just link anything that happens to globalization or that other wonderful phenomenon, “global warming”. Nowhere is this best seen when it comes to terror. Soon linking terror to globalization will be passe. It will be cooler and more outrageous to link to global warming since both are bad and obviously the result of Western actions.
Let’s face the facts here. Indian Muslims are being radicalized. The radicals are being nurtured and protected by a vote-hungry political class that banks on them to turn out the votes on election day. The odd anti-American protest also helps when one has Commies supporting the Government from ‘outside’. It is convenient to blame Pakistan and Al Qaeda, just as it was convenient for Indira Gandhi to blame the ‘foreign hand’ for her failures.
No amount of bemoaning the underprivileged status of Indian Muslims helps. On the contrary, the terrorists came from possibly some of the better off of their co-religionists in India. Do we therefore blame education and wealth for creating terrorists? Yet, somehow, globalization is responsible.
Terrorist groups, as somewhat different from guerilla/separationist/insurgent groups do not need to depend on the ‘plight of the people’ to draw recruits. They spread hate as an ideology in itself, and destruction the means to achieving the ‘victory’ of their ideology. When it is convenient, they will bring up “American foreign policy”, “liberation of the Palestinian people”, “fighting the Arab tyrants”. The gullible Western and (of late) Indian media, lap this up since they can’t be bothered to find out any better. When one looks more closely at the aims of terrorists, it usually involves genocide, mass slaughter or outright war in most cases. Never mind that they have no qualms inflicting the same, “wrongs” that they hide behind when it is convenient.
This article is the perfect example of the intellectual laziness that is the hallmark of the Indian television media these days. Broad generalizations, hashed metaphors, not to mention tired cliches and mindless catch-phrases litter this long and rambling piece, that ultimately comes to a pre-determined conclusion as decided by the author’s proclivities towards liberalization and neo-liberal economics. Terrorism is an excuse to launch head-first into a tirade against market forces, globalization, the West and even the initiator of market reforms.
Long live the free press.
alok really appreciate the lucid rebuttal.
I want to say, wah wah wah! IMHO I think Dr. Hanif is a very decent chap–he took care to help only bad activities to happen in UK. He thought it is not nice to stir up trouble in Karnataka.
It is really interesting how some people are baying for the blood of ALL muslims in Bangalore and Karnataka
Dr. Hanif is guilty by association.
I thought the quote by ole Kipling is entirely and embarrassingly inappropriate in this article. I don’t know what new stuff Dips is trying to convey–Muslims do well in Karnataka and are still frustrated. So they take to radical Islam. I would want to know how many Mulsim women are getting education besides being just baby machines. That is the key to Muslim rage! why have the Muslims lost the capacity to enjoy life? Why do they want to go back running into medieval times!??
I have a neat theory about radical Islam–when you see a close friend who is a Muslim becoming a very devoted Muslim, he must be immediately tagged by the police. At this point he is a walking bomb ready to go off on orders. They begin to hear voices in the head and start seeking the fine things in paradise completely forgetting paradise is available just the same on earth! The few hours of 911 bombers saw them cavorting with porno magazines which is a bit embarrassing for a cause so pure…:)
It takes a large hearted capacity to get along with every one. Muslims should start asking themselves–do they want to live on this planet or prefer the heaven…all simple really…
Don’t look at the community, nationality, religion of a terrorist. Just look at the act. Birth is accidental. Behaving in a civilized society in a civilized way is essential. Analyse objectively. Accept the facts. When investigations are under progress and when new materials are found you cannot take back your words. Please wait and watch.
The question of Islamic terrorists and 72 virgins in heaven. given the preponderance of these Islamic terroriss these days and Islamic terrorists from every profession coming out of the woordwork and more are lying slow as sleepers, soon the supply of virgins may run out. In that case, what are other prizes waiting for these terrorists to collect in the heaven? !!
Bangalore is one of the calm city of India. But show the one city of the world that there have no terrorist or any time there would not have any terrorism plan in long future. Actually, this place will not find. Actually the terrorist create from the one regional community. India is suffering from the terroist about 25 years. And large number of Indians oppose the terrorism.