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I Smell Gold : This time it's personal

Won my first individual event ever in college. Since no one else was blowing my horn, decided to do that myself. So here is my gold winning speech :)

Since you might get bored half way through the speech, let me thank the people who need to be thanked right now itself: Apurva, Myth, Zoo, Xar, Kamra, Harsha and even Bishnoi :)

Motion: Increasing national security and surveillance is a cosmetic response to any extremist activity in a democratic and tolerant society.

Let me start with a very clichéd “Picture this”. I am a 7 year old boy and I behave like any 7 year old does. I hate milk and I throw a tantrum when I see a glass full of that filthy white thing. As a seven year old I probably don’t know the words tantrum and filthy, but this ignorance does not save me from the wrath of my father. He takes less than 45 seconds to get that milk down my throat. I certainly don’t like it. Thankfully, sometime later my mother explains to me why I need that milk if I want to become like Sachin Tendulkar.

Thank god for mothers and Indian cricket.

Good evening to those who like me are in favour of the motion and even warmer welcome to my opponents who are against it.

Having highlighted both – cosmetic response and corrective action – in my democratic household, I will spend the next 4 minutes presenting my arguments favouring the motion: “increased national security and surveillance is a cosmetic response to any extremist activity in a democratic and tolerant society”.

Let me start by setting the premise for my arguments:

a) Cosmetic response does not come attached with a negative connotation. A little show always helps and it does serve its purpose. But it does not solve the real problem and hence it is just that – a cosmetic response.

b) At the same time, real solution in no way implies aggression – vis-a-vis military action and / or martial law – depending on whether the extremism is internal or external. I disagree with aggression on two accounts:
i. It violates the domains of a democratic society
ii. Principally, violence does not solve any problem

c) Even though I would maintain a broad overview, some India specific points
are bound to come up, because – well that is why we are having this debate today.

d) And finally clarifying that extremism is not equal to terrorism alone. Social violence and political extremism is as much a nuisance to a society as external terrorism.

So it is this extreme democratic nature of our society – where public rights come dime a dozen – that makes imposing stringent laws extremely difficult without compromising the democracy that we began with.

Complimenting this is the fact that we as a society are both callous and careless. We refuse to follow our own rules and then whine about not having proper laws. We detest surveillance as a society and then crib about it when under threat.

Under these circumstances, increasing security and surveillance turn out be only half baked measures, and how effective these measures will be, one can only wonder.

Now that is not to say that such measures don’t serve any purpose. As I said in the very beginning – they do. What? Most importantly, they pacify the public and prevents them from going into a state of panic. It gives them a sense of safety and yes, sometimes feeling safe is as important as being safe.

Beefing up security in face of a threat is only natural – but all it does is that it buys us some valuable time to prepare for the next set if events to unfold.
Building walls and installing guards can only delay the inevitable. Eventually all security is breakable. All it needs is a larger, more fanatic extremist. One that is ready to take harm to cause harm. Security and surveillance may contribute in minimising the damage, but it does not save us from the possibility of a threat.

It just acts as a deterrent. Like when I am faced with a man with a gun, I can show him my own gun. I hope that he’s scared and runs away, but if does shoot, the maximum I can do is shoot him as well. But that is not going to save my life.
Such responses are even more futile in case of internal extremism.

There are riots waiting to happen if the society itself doesn’t learn from its mistakes. We can certainly crush a riot by deploying forces but that does not make the society immune. Similarly, we can cross half the globe to avenge an attack on our sovereignty, but that does not solve the problem of global terrorism.

For a society to cope with extremism – it has to undergo major social changes. It has to understand the true essence of democracy.

As a superintendent of police in Jharkhand said, “I can fight naxalites but I cannot fight naxalism alone. That has to come from the people.”

And it is these thoughts that I would like to leave you. Security and surveillance are like painkillers – they can relieve me of my pain but they cannot cure my ailment.

PS: Would attach the video soon along with the transcript of the rebuttal


  1. Congrats keeda...
    Won't say marvelous but fantastic speech you gave. I like that example of gun shooting, I believe its yours

  2. rebuttal ka transcript??
    kuchh tempo! :)
    i appreciate!


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