ALLEGEDLY Columns

Promoting torture in India

The global movement for gender equity in torture won a tremendous victory last week, thanks to feminist icon and tireless advocate of women’s rights, U.S. President Donald Trump. I know you’ve been gorging on fake news like everyone else. But if you think he’s a bad guy, I feel sorry for you. Yes, I do.

Trust me, only dumb people read the failing New York Times. And only the dumbest believe everything it puts out on Trump. Let me tell you something, and this is a fact. You can Google it if you like, because I just did: it wasn’t Kennedy or Clinton or that loser Obama who had the guts to nominate a woman to head the biggest, richest, most powerful and most outstanding intelligence agency in the world. It was Trump who did it when he nominated torture expert Gina Haspel to be the director of the CIA.

As expected, human rights groups have begun their usual mischief. Instead of hailing her as an example of women’s empowerment, they are saying she is a bad person because, in the words of Senator Rand Paul, she showed “joyful glee” in torturing people. Let me tell you something else: they know nothing. And they know it even less than Jon Snow.

Supervising torture

Haspel broke much more than the glass ceiling when she was picked to run a secret prison in Thailand where a single man was waterboarded 83 times in one month. As a woman, she had to be twice as good to rise to the top of the male-dominated CIA hierarchy, which means she had to be twice as good at supervising a variety of torture management projects involving a range of advanced skills that included, but were not limited to, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, mock executions, rectal feeding and hydration, ice water baths, and confining a prisoner in a coffin-size box.

As we all know, extensive use of these torture methods has foiled numerous terror attacks between one terror attack and another. Trump got it right when he said of Haspel, “She is an outstanding person.” Well, a woman has no choice but to be outstanding in order to succeed in a man’s world, and sadly, the torture industry continues to be one. A woman has to lean in to pull out those fingernails with a steady hand and a calm head. Many men can’t do it. I know I can’t.

In fact, the last time I tortured a living being was back in university when I poured cow urine on a suspicious gathering of cockroaches. I mention this only because it technically qualifies as waterboarding, since the intruders, going by their reaction, seemed to believe they were going to drown. But all six of them escaped without telling me who they really were, what they were doing in my room, and who had sent them. I knew right then I had no future as a torturer, though I often get reader feedback that informs me of the contrary.

Frankly, I can’t stand the sight of blood, or people screaming in pain, or pictures of bodies mutilated by torture. But like most normal people, I totally endorse the use of extreme torture on innocent people who may or may not be terrorists. After all, that is the best way to generate actionable intelligence for a safer planet.

Time for India to cash in

But moving beyond the gender aspect, I can’t help but wonder why India hasn’t cashed in on the growing market for outsourced torture. We have a fantastic equation with the U.S. So if the Americans can set up a torture facility in Thailand, why not in Gurgaon? After all, India’s law enforcement agencies offer a rich pool of talented professionals who have sharpened their skills over several years of custodial torture. Despite pressure from rabid human rights groups, India has wisely avoided ratifying the UN Convention against Torture, which means we can torture away merrily.

The entire world knows we’re great at signing MoUs. Recently even U.P. signed a clutch of MoUs, just for fun. So what stops us from signing MoUs with every country that’s squeamish about doing torture on its own soil? It could bring in foreign investment and create millions of jobs as we build a nationwide interrogation infrastructure, including Special Torture Zones where torture services are exempt from GST.

Also, in view of the dwindling job opportunities in India (except in the pakoda sector), the government should revive the Skill India Programme with a special focus on torture skills. It is regrettable that India could not become the sweatshop capital of the world despite the brilliant Make in India PR campaign. But a Torture in India programme, generously funded through a 20% torture cess on taxable income, will go a long way in making India the world’s top torture destination. Once we achieve that distinction, will any terrorist — be it from IS or al-Qaeda or LeT or whatever — dare to come and work in India?

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 8:28:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/promoting-torture-in-india/article23281506.ece

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