To say anything like "I am shocked!", or "This is appalling!" would be an understatement. I am shocked, appalled and scared. And I believe so are you. That's fine. In fact, that is a sane reaction.
Mumbai was hit by blasts again, three of them this time; official sources say around twenty killed and sixty injured. But those are just statistics. Just numbers. But for many unfortunate survivors, they are names; mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends...
Through my personal observations, I can say that there are two broad responses to such tragedies. One, a sense of hopelessness and despair, soon replaced by what many call the 'spirit of Mumbai', that is, our ability to go on ahead with life, whilst upholding the innate psyche that this city builds in our minds: "Bad things happen, and will keep happening. Will that stop us? Hell no."
And two, is a path of public indignation; usually amplified by political voices. Here, governments are blamed, security agencies are too. Every political big-wig has an opinion. And, strangely, this stage of response follows the first one; candle light vigils and the sorts, you know.
Yesterday, as I sat watching various news channels, I realized these processes were already set into play. Some leader from the Shiv Sena was at Dadar, to "inspect" the site apparently. And this is before the NIA team arrived. He and his party "asked" the government to find out who was behind the blasts. Hmm, I wonder how long the politeness would last.
And in another clip, somewhere in Jhaveri Bazaar, I think, I saw a flash mob gathering near the CM's convoy...shouting protest slogans. Now that is progress.
People often comment that the Indian government is unconcerned towards its 1.2 billion citizenry, and worse still, it tends to value some over the others. The Kalka Mail accident, for example was an appalling example of this fact. Inevitably, discourses on corruption and selfishness of netas follow.
We need a scapegoat. And, in most cases, an inefficient administration suffices. I am not sympathizing with the government, mind you. I believe that they are indeed inefficient and to a very large extent, even unprofessional in dealing with crises like these. They suffer some serious lapses, lack of standardized protocol, incompetence, interdepartmental rivalry, political one-up-man-ship and the gravest of all, lack of political will, to name a few.
Then again, how virtuous is the Indian public? My answer is, not very.
True, one sees a spirit of humanity and solidarity at work when tragedy strikes. The 26/7 floods, the 11/7 train bombings and now this. Also, we've had candle-lights vigils and what-not after 26/11. Yes, India, there is hope- that's what many said.
Half of Mumbai didn't vote in the elections in 2009. But thousands came in support of Team India at Wankehede. Funny world, no?
Not wanting to be accused of cynicism again, I would like to end this post with my personal view on counter-terrorism. Why, because terrorism is a crime of the most depraved nature (let's face it, this is what we're fighting; not a war against our ideas or some abstract struggle), and thus, has to be dealt with ruthlessly. What we need is a competent and well-trained security services and an unhindered chain-of-command. A complete overhaul in our security mechanisms, procedures, protocols and basically, the way we think. And the knowledge of the fact that safety of citizens is of paramount importance. Unless this is realized by the government, I am afraid we are looking at very dark times.
In the face of such troubled times, there is very little what people like you and me can do. But what we can do is, not let the pain wash away by some mind-numbing, defeatist rhetoric. For as long as we remember the wounds and the pain, we will be conscious of what caused it. Because if we choose to move on, to surrender to fate, spirit or whatever we might call it, then, we are doing a grave injustice to the very people whose losses we mourned; to the tears and blood they have shed.