Friday, July 15, 2011

The Resilient spirit of Mumbai ??

  Image source : New statesman

My dear Mumbai is hurt again. India's commercial capital was rocked on Wednesday by a series of 3 blasts at 3 major hotspots of the city. Read the full report here .
Growing up in a city which was such a favorite terror target wasn't exactly easy, every now and then the incidents would remind us of the dangers lurking around us. I still remember the very first time my city was injured 12th March 1993, when a series of 13 blasts rocked the city to it's core, as a school going girl then, I couldn't fully grasp the gravity of the situation or why it had happened, but the tension was palpable.
Then in the years that followed, Mumbai has seen around 13 attacks, some worse than others, but each one a hole in city's spirit, the worst one being in 2008, when the city was literally hijacked for days, at the whims of some lunatics, from across the border .
Yet it was always somehow, seen that Mumbaikar's had a tough exterior, they could bounce back from the worst travesty and resume life as they knew it. This was touted as the 'resilient' spirit of the city.
During the aftermath of the 1993 series of bomb blasts, Mumbaikar's showed an outpouring of love, people were lining outside major hospitals to donate blood, helping the blast victims anyway they could, this was hailed by all as the humanitarian side of the otherwise cold and indifferent city , and then the very next day people resumed work, as if nothing had happened. People refused to be affected by the event and resumed life as they knew it just a day earlier.
In the years since, Mumbai has faced multiple terror attacks, some targeting the train network of Mumbai (also known as the lifeline of Mumbai, as it is the primary mode of transport for many), with every incident the cynicism of the average person grows mainly because of the inactivity and ineffectiveness (and also maybe unwillingness) of the government to deal with the issue. Today people are questioning whether there really is such a thing as the resilient Mumbai spirit ?? I mean too much is talked and praised about it, but does it really show anything other than the helplessness of the average joe(or jagdish)??  Helplessness that the economic considerations/repercussions  require one to shove aside the fear for life, and resume daily activities, as if nothing had changed.
The only ones whose life forever changes are those who lose their near and dear ones in such terrible tragedies. They cannot resume life as it was, because life as it was ceases to exist, their home, their life, their family has changed forever, and nothing can undo the damage done. Those are the people that will have to find a new normal, a new routine, and also a new life, in order to move on. The rest just go on with their own struggles, and hope that they're not next.

By now, there's such a famliar pattern in the aftermath of such an event, the cynic in me can almost predict what will happen next :
The government will start with it's usual blame game across the border (without actually giving any evidence that this was indeed their doing).
Pakistan in turn will refuse all allegations, strongly condemning the attack, and US will urge India to be patient and maintain peace in the region. The government will use stern words to condemn pakistan, telling them that this won't be tolerated for long (but it will), possibly even a committee might be set up to research a stricter law, or other methods by which to tackle terrorism. If public outcry is huge, than some minister will be made the sacrificial lamb and sacked.
Media will go into a frenzy of 24*7 coverage of the aftermath of the blasts, nonstop interviews of bystanders, onlookers, actual blast surviors, and anyone else they can get a hold of, describing their harrowing ordeal, all to garner maximum trp's.
Facebook/twitter will go on a crazy rampage, with every second person, condemning the attack and blaming the government's uselessness (while forgetting that majority of urban population doesn't even show up to vote). There might even be a candle light vigil or walk or some other show of solidarity, which will also be covered end to end by the media.
Then begins the blame game between ruling party and opposition, protests inside the parliament, not letting the session of parliment continue, even disgusting tactics like violence inside the houses of parliament.
The news channel will cover all this endlessly, until the next big story comes along, after which this incident will be forgotten by all, and nothing will change...
Except for those who lost members of their family, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, etc, who will forever be missed, and can never return, they will have a hole in their heart, which cannot be filled, by any candle light march, any committee, any false and empty promises by the government. They will just have to learn to live life, without the beloved member.

I really hope I'm wrong in what I've predicted will happen, but I doubt I will. Indians are weak at fighting terrorism, and it's easier to just accept and resign to a fate that these incidences will keep on happening, and we just have to hope that we/our family continue to be safe from them. I feel lousy thinking this way, but all the years of no results, and no changes, have made me cynical about the future of India when in comes to terrorism....again I hope I'm wrong here, and this is the incident, which proves to be the catalyst India needs to make herself more secure, and fight terrorism head on. I guess only time will tell, until the next time then.......


  1. Thoughts with Mumbai at the moment. Thanks for your thought-provoking commentary on this.

  2. Got the new from DH who is in Mumbai right now on his new job and looking for an apartment for us to move there...sigh
    My first reaction to DH's report of blasts was "What? Again?"
    7.5 years living in India, I don't think there is one year in this country without a terrorist attack somewhere, and yup I haven't seen much change from the governement, it's still the same old same old that you worte about, blaming pakistan, pakistan denying it, then blaming it on a banned muslim outfit in the country, and then poof the whole thing vanish...until the next time, they never really seem to be able to find the culprits, and take action, the excuse being that india is a poor country, big country, conflict country, corrupt country...excuses excuses excuses...that the governement is good at, giving excuses! It satisfies the masses, and every 26th January and 15th August the country is proud to be Indian, while as an outside living there I keep wondering what is there to be proud of? Kicking the British out over 60 years ago and then what? Don't get me wrong I don;t think patriotism is bad, but it has to be leading to something better to be good.

    My heart goes to the families of the victims as usual, as you said their life will never go on being the same ever again. If I were in their shoes I would be really angry at a governement that can't even keep their promises of making India a safer place.

  3. >Kicking the British out over 60 years ago and then what? Don't get me wrong I don;t think patriotism is bad, but it has to be leading to something better to be good.

    Maybe British should give back all the money they looted from India..
    If Britain was paid World War 1, reparations until last year,..
    India has a right to demand the trillions of dollars looted by the British to get it back.

  4. I was in Mumbai for the weekend and I am so impressed with the people there. No matter what happens, life goes on the next day.

  5. @ Cyn, I completely agree, Indians do have some shallow sense of patriotism, most are wearing blinders, they just wanna focus on whatever 'development' is happening around them (usually just cosmetic, nothing rock solid, like improving the systems), there's nothing that can change that attitude of Indians, most are very quick to jump in and blame the govt for it's in-activeness, but honestly the govt is just a reflection of it's citizens, Indians themselves are inactive and inert for the most part, they want their rights, but not the duties that come with it (how about not spitting/peeing on the roads, and showing up to vote for starters..huh).

    @ Anonymous : British did what they did, and that's in the past now, if we had to demand the wealth back, we should have done it a longgg time ago. Harping on how we've been wronged in the past for eternity will get us nowhere...even if we get the money back from the british hypothetically, our able politicians will be fully able to pocket a big majority of it, while apply almost nothing to any real development on the ground for before we run off crying to the british, let's start with demanding money from our esteemed politicians, who've scammed the country out of nearly 20.3 TRILLION !!!...yes trillion till date..shall we....

    @ Kay, I agree, Mumbaikar's are tough people, no doubt, what has me irritated is the over-hypedness (?) of the Mumbai spirit, the resilience, etc. Our strength has been taken for our weakness I feel, the govt knows that Mumbai is a target, and yet they aren't able to stop terror attacks there, and then when they happen, to spin it so as to show that in the grand scheme of things in Mumbai, this attack is a tiny blip, and Mumbai moves's sick..yes, we move on, except those who lose loved ones, they can't move on...and there seems to be no acknowledgement of their struggles and no value of Mumbaikar's lives...that's the toughest part for me to swallow...

  6. >British did what they did, and that's in the past now, if we had to demand the wealth back, we should have done it a longgg time ago

    Do you know British were getting reparations for the first world war from Germany until last year.

    Let us get the reparations, then we can think of distributing it equally to every citizen.

    200 yrs of non-stop loot is different than one generation of corrupt money by politicians.

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