Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thoughts on yet another Mumbai terrorist attack

The citizens of Mumbai have seen this before.  Bombs, Bombay, and terrorism against this big bustling city that just takes it and moves on has become a recurrent theme. While the year 2003 was an especially bad year for explosions in the city, terrorism has hit with alarming frequency and with little or no opposition from India's military or intelligence operation. Just over five years ago to the day, on July 11, more than 1,000 people were killed or injured from seven coordinated bombs in the city. Who can forget the terrorist attacks of the 26th of November, 2008? Surely not Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman of the 2008 attack, who celebrated his birthday today. Did anyone in the intelligence apparatus of India know it was Kasab's birthday today? Did anyone have even one conversation about whether someone might use the date to plan attack? Did anyone care? Probably not.

So what do we do about all this terror, death and destruction? What can we do? While there is no one answer to solving terrorism, one thing is quite clear: India's government, politicians and public institutions have failed their people. Government is instituted by people to ensure, at a minimum, the common peace.  India's government, with rather striking universality across its many states and cities, has failed to deliver clean water, roads, and air. But those are relative luxuries, it would appear. India has also failed in its basic duty to protect its citizens against attacks, both foreign and domestic. Whether it is a completely failed response to terrorism that happens nearly weekly in the northeast states, or the internationally publicized attacks in Mumbai like those of earlier today, India's politicians are more interested in pointing their many fingers at Pakistan than in trying to make their people safer.

Zaveri Bazar, which has been hit before by terrorist blasts, had no improved infrastructure, no CCTV monitoring, no bomb detection or prevention methods. In fact, with the exception of the haphazard approach taken by hotels in Mumbai, nowhere in the city will you find any coordinated approach implemented by the government to prevent, deter, monitor, or detect the type of terrorism that the city regularly now faces.

The politicians will make bold and impassioned speeches tomorrow. They will point fingers. They will appeal for the public's strength, unity and determination. The next day, they will return to business as usual, as will the amazingly forgiving and tolerant public that elevates these politicians to power every year. Bribes will be paid, favors will be handed out. Scams will be hatched, public tax revenue will be squandered. Yet, sadly, nobody will do anything to make it even a touch less likely that today's attacks won't be the same as tomorrow's ones.

The brave citizens behind the Public Concern for Governance Trust have long advocated for better governance in India. It is time to head their calls. It is indeed time for the people to stand up, not just to the debased humans that perpetrate these acts of violence, but also to the politicians that allow them to continue to feast on an unfettered buffet of terrorist opportunity.


Pragati said...

So true Beej. I also conclude that its time for us citizens too to step out of our comfort zones and try to understand what this internal war is about and how we can help the government fight. The government seems extremely uncoordinated and unequipped for these challenges we face today.

ironic said...

i don't think any government in the world can prevent a terror attack once the attack is set in matter what you do or how good your politicians are..or how corrupt and incompetent your security apparatus is..i think most intelligent people will concur with me on this once the emotional aspect is removed..i can narrate hundreds of examples the botched times square bombing in recent times..the london numerous shootings that happen regularly in the US..the mormon killings..englewood..germany etc..are all examples of need a lucky break to stop an attack once its past the planning can increase the chances of detecting..but all you've done is postponed them..unfortunately we are paying for the mistakes of the west..esp the UK and the US..they are relatively cushioned by geographical constraints so they can indulge in high risk low intensity armed conflicts with anyone..India unfortunately does not enjoy this geographical what do we do? we need a complete hands off approach to pakistan and afghanistan..we are not interested in their growth..only in their that i mean..if they are failing as becomes imperative that there is never any link to india or its activities...Kashmir is the bane...lets only have 1 point talks..lets invite every group that has stated its claim on this issue..the LeT, IM, Huji..etc..lets make it transparent..we are not interested in improving trade...we are not interested in tourism..we are not interested if they rise...we are not interested in pakistan or its activities...we also need to make this public..INDIA HAS NO INTERESTS IN PAKISTAN..its great for us to grow..but in a way certain twisted mnds cnsider this a threat to pakistan.. lets allay those fears first..