Soon after the Mumbai train bombings, speculations began on the Indian response (both of the common people and the government) to these terrorist attacks. In the immediate aftermath, there was worry about communal violence erupting – especially given the mindless riots by the Shiv-Sena and the lynching of policemen in a Muslim neighborhood earlier in the week. Personally I felt that after such a carnage, the common people are too busy picking up their lives to be going about killing each others. Additionally, as Confused points out, historically there has not been any communal incidents following such terrorist acts.
Thankfully, nothing of the sort did take place and with a sense of deja vu, the city of Mumbai went back to business (although my local source in the city tells me that the trains are a little less crowded). Some bloggers have rightly criticized this resilience, calling it equivalent to apathy. As Sailesh Ganesh points out:
….I cannot help feel that this same resilience allows the government and concerned officials to relax, to not even put a token effort in trying to come up with measures that will help the city in case of a repeat occurrence.
Seems to be that is what’s happening. The official government response so far has been underwhelming to say the least.
Let us summarize some of the steps the government has taken so far:
1. Providing leadership: Absolute lack of it from the top. Our honorable Prime Minister made an uninspiring three minute appearance on national TV, looking ‘wishy-washy‘ and delivering an insipid message. This holds very little hope for the Indian population.
Back in the late 80’s, when the VP Singh-led coalition government was in trouble, the man VP Singh would appear nightly on TV, look up at the ceiling and mumble something about peace and understanding, making it appear as if he was at some poetry convention rather than addressing a troubled nation. By all accounts Manmohan Singh has outclassed VP Singh in spinelessness.
2. Showing toughness and delivering a strong message: Again, a weak-kneed response pointing a polite finger to those guys across the border.
We are also certain that these terror modules are instigated, inspired and supported by elements across the border, without which they cannot act with such devastating effect.
Reminds me of Hindi films till the 80’s, where the villains would usually be shown to be of English or (but why?) Portuguese origin or from some unknown country desperate to take over or destroy India (remember Mogambo ?). Roja was the first film that bucked the trend and even then there was only mention of terrorists from ‘across the border’ – no mention of any country.
Its high time they call Pakistan for what it is.
3. Constructive steps towards curbing terrorism: Ah – now this is where our government has outperformed itself. Since our nation is in the imminent danger of being attacked – and its population instigated – by a horde of angry bloggers, they have asked Indian ISPs to block access to blogspot and typepad blogs. As the GreatBong says:
The government is engaged in a war with “common sense”. No I do not say that figuratively. According to Shivam, one of the blogspot blogs that reportedly made it onto the government’s list is http://commonense.blogspot.com. The said blog, whose title is the somewhat apt “Common Sense for Dummies” has only post, dated May 20, 2004 that says:
“Common-sense” and “common sense”, the common-sense alternatives for a common-sense blog, are already taken.
Deeply subversive—-after all, as we all know, common sense can bring the government down.
My own feeling is that as a country we have mainly failed at a diplomatic front. Israel is attacking Lebanon for a far lesser infraction with impunity. Of course, Israel has strong US support for obvious reasons. But I cannot believe that we have failed to impress upon US and other allies, the gravity of state-sponsored terrorism emanating from Pakistan. In spite of the noises being made at the G-8 summit regarding the US and the world’s solidarity with India against terrorism, I am yet to see any strong condemnation of Pakistan. We need to deliver an ultimatum to Pakistan – stop your support (moral, political or whatever) and deliver the terrorists to us or we go in. But that is not possible without some tacit support from other world powers.
Btw, while googling for a news-story for this blog-post, I came across this opinion piece in a Louisville, KY daily. It is an absolute piece of gem – not to be missed. The writer tries to show he is unbiased, but its pretty much the FoxNews kind of ‘fair & balanced’. Here is a selection:
It is surprising that the Indian leaders have taken no notice of the public pledge of President Musharraf of Pakistan to help India with investigations of the Bombay blasts (the best way to test Musharraf’s sincerity is to take him up on his offer). I suppose, they are too busy exacting political capital from a tragedy to pay attention to a reasonable offer. I am sure Pakistani leaders fully understand what their Indian counterparts are doing, and why.