December 30, 2014 By Shameer. k.s

2014 Events that Hogged Limelight


A year is bidding good bye. But are we so optimistic as to lay stress on the ‘good’ before the ‘bye’? Those who are optimistic have many things to single out to strengthen their belief. Firstly and most significantly, there is what many of us term progress in the generation-shifting technology. We have smart phones, virtual interactions, high-speed railway traffic, Mangalyan-which Indians equate by a crude logic to their new Prime Minister-etc. The speed by which we aim to mean, though it hardly means, acceleration in the standard of living has been the mantra ever since the dawn of this millennium. Speed, however, is conspicuously absent in the ‘fast-track’ courts and the delivery of justice. What this age gloats over has become a metaphor for what is deeply lacking in the age. A case in point is the steady poverty rate camouflaged by the increasing rate of GDP. We have had recessions to bring the irony home to us. While there were celebrations over Mangalyan, there were shadow wars in the Indian tribal belt over land, water and shelter. Though it is a fashionable, crowd-pulling catchword for Hollywood charity shows, green has never been translated to government policies and legislations. So for Interactive, who dreams a better world where we share and live together, the year goes by is something to be pessimistic about. But we nourish pessimism as a critical difference with the hope for a better, more just, more eco-friendly, more pluralistic and more democratic 2015. Here is arundown of five events that have defined the year going by.

Missing Planes

One day before we write this, an airbus from Indonesia named A320-200 was found missing. There were 162 people on its board. The plane was heading to Singapore and, as per reports; the pilots had requested a course change because of bad weather but did not send any distress call before the plane disappeared from radar screens between Borneo and Sumatra. Two days later, there were only conjectures about what would have actually occurred. The search and rescue team in Indonesia said that the plane was likely to be at the bottom of the sea. A few months back, Malaysia, Indonesia’s neighbor, had the very same, if more tragic, plight. The flight named Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370/MAS370) disappeared with 227 passengers on board on its way to Beijing. The search which has extended to underwater did not yield any result. The episode had ended with soul-searching reflections on the measures to be taken for the safety of passengers, including the tapping of satellite technology. Does the repetition not suggest that we have learnt nothing? If a more realistic fact-finding mission and more effective security measures are not still adopted, it would be utter disrespect for the 389 valuable lives we have lost this year.

The Naked Aggression

Ever since its formation, the Zionist state of Israel has been pursuing an aggressive expansion of territory at the cost of uprooted, landless, if more stoic, Palestinians. This year too, people all over the world saw how Israel resorted to violence on the petty cause of missing teenagers. That the cause was raked up as an excuse is proven by the fact that the Israeli army were allowed to search the whole Palestinian territory for the missing youths. The aggression against civilians was once again justified by saying that Hamas used civilians as human shield. A few days before the naked aggression, Hamas and Fatah had sat around a table, decided to iron out their differences and ventured to form a unitary government. If the US, its and European and middle-eastern allies have no qualms in supporting aggression against the national ambition of a people, there is no better sign from themindicating that their wars and attempts for democracy all over the word, especially Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan are all sheer farce. Will Palestine remain in the coming years as a sign of our compromise on injustice, violence and aggression? Will there be an end to the condition of Palestinians, who are, in the words of Judith Butler, a nation that has not yet been?

The dread of a promise

At the very moment when the US state was hatching its operation Iraq, critical voices were all waiting for the time when the hubris of the warmonger would be exposed. From the ruins of a massacred civilization, there arose the Islamic State and its promise of the reinstatement of Caliphate. There are people who see the phenomenal rise of the Jihadi militia as a movement westward, meant to destabilize those very powers that had destabilized a nation and a people. They cited popularity of the movement in the western metros. There are conspiracy theorists too, who, albeit using a well-founded logic, argued that it was a movement inward, destabilizing further the political dynamics of the post invasion Iraq. They cited the sophisticated arms possessed by the militia and the threat to the western powers of a well-knit Shia community living in Iraq that was given a fillip in the post-Baathist political scenario. The policy of Nouri al-Maliki dispensation against Sunnis was cited as a provocation. He was immediately replaced by Fuad Massum whom the western press describes as saner and someone who ‘speaks English better’. Amidst this cosmetic change, the IS militants advanced further, occupying more provinces and exhibiting more clout. Formed by someone named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the militants are said to be a breakaway faction of Al Qaeda. Though there were reports that al-Baghdadi was killed in an operation, the militia denied the report. Associated with ruthless operations, savage brutality and murder and suppression of dissent, the militia is associated with video footages and twitter messages whose authenticity has been doubted by several analysts. Most Muslim organizations have dissociated themselves from the faction, saying that the militia does not do anything that would remotely match the adjective Islamic. Given that the call for Khilafat in the parlance of Sunni Islam is a more positive, promising and politically forthright activity, the prospective Khilafat of IS, with the message of bloodletting, can be seen as longer promising but dreary.

Children as Combatants

Though only remotely related, the dystopia of IS can be seen as having reflections in the terrorist attack on the Army Public School in the Pakistani city of Peshawar orchestrated by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The reason is that when the IS was declaring the first session of Jihad, TTP had encounter with the Pakistani army in the Karachi airport. Does the army school attack mark another session of the TTP violence? On December 16 seven members of TTP entered the school and opened fire on school staff and children. Civilian causalities are numbered 145 people, including 132 children. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, describing it as revenge for Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the Pakistani military’s military offensive in North Waziristan that started in summer 2014. Though the terrorist attack against the children was brought to fore and condemned worldwide, the attack of the Pakistani state and the aerial bombing of the US and allies not only in Afghanistan and Iraq but in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province that have claimed the lives of more children has been masked by the terms of civilian war fare. The reason why NWFP is still burning hot is the aggression of the Pakistani state with the aid of the western powers that have specific interests behind the stoking of fire. Interactive pays homage to all the children who lost their lives in the year 2014 in the aggression and violence of state as well as non-state actors.

Iron Fists

A political trend too starkly open to be left unnoticed in the year going by is our forgetting the wrongs of certain people just because they came to power after a massive electoral victory, though they have no remorse over whatever wrongs they did. So 2014 was the year of al-Sisi, Putin, Modi, Bashar, Rivlin and Netanyahu. All these names are famed for rightist authoritarianism, violence against minorities, and mindless expansionism. Putin’s intervention in Ukraine was this year’s highlight; Modi came to power in India after a massive electoral victory without expressing remorse over the Gujarat riots in 2002-when he was the chief minister of the state-and bearing the burden of his alleged roles in the attacks (he did nothing to clear his name); al-Sisi has in his hands the blood of people massacred in the Rabia Adawiyya Square and al Nahda Square in Egypt and has been criticized for aiding the toppling of a democratically elected government; Bashar al Assad won in the elections held in Syria but he has yet to answer for the murders, torture and imprisonment of his opponents in Syria; Rivilin’s selection to the post of President in Israel was punctuated by the violence of the Zionist state and he is abetted by Netanyahu as prime minister who is trying to stall all peaceful ways for the realization of the Palestinian nation.
Why are people noted for aggression being elected and selected? Is it because democratic processes are too fragile? Or is it because civil societies are formed through the processes of collective and selective amnesia; of selective protection of their own territories against weak minorities; and of glamorization of aggression and violence against the virtues of mercy, compassion and tolerance that are all fast disappearing from the political lexicon?

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