I have been an NRI for over 30 years. And today, when I see photographs of the grieving families who lost loved ones to arbitrary terrorism in Pathankot, I feel desolate.
I believe that for the Narendra Modi government, we NRIs have become a cop-out of the first order. We have been singularly responsible for having fed the ego and given the Prime Minister of India a blazing bonfire of the vanities. We have flocked out in our thousands to assuage our guilt at leaving our home country by creating a fanatic froth of patriotism, and inflated the man to the point where he prefers us to the 1.3 billion at home.
Today was a day to ignore us NRIs, who are snug and smug in our enclaves and ghettos and talk to the people of India, and reassure them that they are safe and secure.
To miss this opportunity to address the nation, to stop the baying of the Congress in Opposition, to not put into accurate perspective the post-visit fallout to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and to not forward to the nation and its armed forces an agenda that indicates our resolve to never again take it on the chin, but respond with determination, is discomforting.
This is where we need the rhetoric of the silver tongued prime minister. Even today the chilling words of Indira Gandhi telling the nation we were at war in 1971 raises the hair on the nape of the neck.
The silence is deafening.
We don’t need Modi in foreign stadiums and halls dispensing promises like currency notes from an ATM.
We need him to tell us that he is on top of the situation, that meeting Sharif was a show of strength not weakness, that India has had enough and is not on the back-foot. That we are not the flipside of the coin, but so far ahead that we will change the priorities and snatch the initiative.
The hell with these NRI speeches and all that ‘awesome venue, did you know 60,000 came?’ stuff. Enough already. It is of no importance. NRIs have become an excuse for non-governance at home.
Where do we stand with Pakistan? Have they shown intent by sharing intelligence on who has helped these terrorists across the border? How many were there? Five? Seven? Seventeen? Seventy? Where are the rest? Is the bomb scare on the Shatabdi to Lucknow integral to this incursion? I don’t have answers, I am only asking questions as an Indian citizen. If I catch a train, am I safe, is my family safe? If I catch a flight, how good is my security? What if we are at a mall, will we be coming back home?
It staggers the mind that after the first round, the IAF base was not sanitised. How could more terrorists have hidden there? Where was the dog squad? Nobody can hide from dogs. Isn’t that the primary move to offset the human factor? The dogs would have missed nobody.
Paramount in my mind as I see the pictures of these stunned families is the simple distilled question: Mr Prime Minister, how successful is our appeasement policy when you think it failed with Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s bus, the sporadic Samjhota Express and your cheery 'hello, tea for two' visit?
Maybe in Islamabad, they don’t understand your language, it is lost in translation. Perhaps we need to change it.
Speak to us, speak to the nation and give us the promise that our borders will not be transcended with impunity.