"You better be there on 26th. I will call you and tell you the time. It will be such fun. And Maam'ji I will enter the dance competition and will win!
" These were the words an excited Utpal told me as he left for boarding school last week after a month at home. He was so looking forward to the fair. Last year he was new in school and did not know about the yearly Republic day fair teeming with rides and yummy food stalls and even a DJ and dance competition. Since January 26th 2014, Utpal had been looking forward to 26 January 2015 when he had hoped that we would come and enjoy the fair with him.
Yesterday evening a very forlorn Utpal informed me on the phone that there would be no fair this year because of 'some bama'! You see the fair has been cancelled because of the Obama visit. I wonder how a Fun Fair located in a remote place a good 20 km away from the Obama show is a security threat. At best, the rides could have been removed one day later.
So for Utpal and his almost 2000 pals it will be no joy rides, no yummy food, no dance competition that you could win! And win he could have as he attended one whole month of hip hop classes during his holidays and did so diligently come rain or cold. I guess the day scholars will stay at home and the boarders will have to content themselves roaming the empty and silent ground that should have been filled with fun and laughter.
Has the cancellation of such a fair been an over reaction by our security wizards or is there a logical reason. Even my fertile imagination cannot find one. At best it would be the difficulty in carting material across a city that is soon going to be locked down. Anyway, I and other citizens of India cannot go to India Gate for a week because of the Obama visit.
Terrorists strike almost at will. There are countless examples of this. Even the latest Paris attack was done by people who were on a watch list.
Many questions come to mind. The first is how do explain this to children. Is it not a sad reflection on our society and our world that terror has become an integral part of child's knowledge bank. A few months back I was saddened to read the letter that my grandson's school sent to all parents at the time of the Ferguson verdict. Here is an extract: If necessary, we will go to a shelter-in-place or lockdown mode at impacted schools. Shelter-in-place indicates that all exits to school are closed and no one is allowed in or out of the building. Lockdown indicates the same, with the added precaution of interior doors also being locked and all staff and students remaining in their room or another safe location. You will be notified via Bright Arrow if either of these are activated and notified again when it is safe to pick up your child(ren) at school. Heads of School will determine what level of security to activate at their individual school.
My Agastya is 6. Mercifully nothing untoward happened but the fact that things have come to this is so terribly sad.
The second question that comes to mind is: how far will all this go and is this the right approach. Today it is only part of the city that is partially locked down but there may be a day when the visit of another Mr Bama will entail all of to be told to remain in our homes.
Is it not time to take the bull by its horns and find out how to contain and eventually stop these acts of terror. Find out the reasons that have allowed terror to take such proportions and above all to be willing to accept that maybe we are in some way also responsible. But that is not easy. Sure it has taken time for matters to reach this point and will take time to unravel the web, but we need to begin or else our children will grow in a world with no fairs and dance competitions. Is that what we want.