Saturday, November 29, 2008


Mumbai has finally been recaptured!! 
This nation grieves with the families of those who lost their loved ones to this dastardly attack. As one, we also salute the bravery of our men in uniform who risked life and limb so that we may go back to our comfortable lives. You truly are the pride of our nation.
But very often this is where things stop. We mourn our dead, praise our soldiers, maybe sit around coffee tables and lambaste our politicians and then forget all the hue and cry and go back to our daily grind. The same sequence of events has played out over and over with every previous attack on our soil. We must not let the deaths of so many go unanswered, we must not let their sacrifices go to waste. This country must now finally free itself of its cocoon of complacency. The time to act is now.
India is on the cusp of unparalleled economic development. We are a nation waiting in the wings to take our rightful place on the global high table, an aspiring superpower. And yet, we cannot guarantee the safety of our people within our borders. Somehow, the size of our country and the 
sheer number of people keep us from realizing that whats happened in Mumbai today might happen in Chennai or Chandigarh tomorrow. Or even if something does happen, as a people we have always been ready to take whatever life throws our way. Yeh India hai, yahan sab chalta hai. 
But that attitude has to stop now. We have to demand solid evidence and definitive actions from our leaders. As usual, we hear news reports of how "hard evidence" points to Pakistani involvement. Well, the citizens of this country must be privy to that information. We cannot and must not accept the usual "its our neighbour's fault" excuse. Heightened security measures at public places is an inconvenience the average Indian is willing to bear. But it must be backed by political will to act decisively against terrorists, an effective intelligence gathering system and most importantly well-equipped and trained personnel to put into effect an effective counter-terrorism strategy. This is the need of the hour. Polticians acting to make electoral gains out of this tragedy are insulting the memory of the martyrs and the average voters' intelligence. 
Any suggestions that its simply impossible to prevent a motivated terrorist willing to risk his life should not be accepted. Both the US and the UK have had a near 100% record in prevention of attacks since 9/11 and 7/7 respectively. And both these countries are as big a target for terrorists as India is.
But we cannot just stop at demanding actions from our leaders. Past experience has shown that our leaders look out for themselves in the aftermath of every national tragedy (but thats a whole other blog). As citizens we must become more self aware. We must realize that terror has no religion. Our judgement of the events in Mumbai must not be coloured by communal prejudice or nationalist fervour. Its time to start thinking of ourselves as Indians first and whatever else we are as secondary. Its time to organize our communities, to watch for suspicious activities and to report these. What we choose to ignore today might just come back to haunt us tomorrow. Its time to sieze this moment, sieze the day. Carpe diem.