Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Obvious Topic

"Are we Defenceless?"
..screamed the headline of a news channel.

Based on current evidence, we are indeed.

A total of 47 bombs (22 defused) found in 3 different cities of our country in a span of 5 days.
More than 50 killed and hundreds injured.
Dense areas such as markets, bus stands targeted, where you and I go or pass through almost every day. The worst of all, targeting the hospital in Ahmedabad where the victims would be brought for treatment, not only highlights the meticulous planning done by the perpetrators, but also a chilling, sinister mindset.

Southern India had been, until now, the luckier sibling when it came to terror attacks. In fact, Bangalore had seen only one clear act of terrorism (attacks at IISC). Even that, as bad as it was, did not fully accomplish what the terrorists intended : Spread Terror.
This time though, they were successful to a much larger extent. 'Low intensity' bombs placed in various parts of the city made sure that everyone knew about it and cared about it enough to actually stop and think 'Should I go out or stay in?". And that, is mission accomplished.
Though normalcy returned quickly, the edginess has remained (no doubt fuelled by blasts in Ahmedabad the very next day).

To be honest, I have been a little indifferent to news on terrorism in India, simply because they are, for the lack of a better term, a dime a dozen. Kashmir has been cannon fodder for decades now. Mumbai and of late Gujarat have also been attacked multiple times. As Indians, we have taken it in our stride that terrorism co-exists with us and have typically 'adjusted' our lives around it. I definitely have. Until now, that is.
Even though I was not directly affected by the blasts, there's no denying that I was tense this time. For real.
2 of the blasts happened within 2 Kms from my office. 1 within a Kilometer from my wife's office. My office is housed in one of the landmark buildings in Bangalore, an obvious target.
It was all real. Not just news splashed sensationally on TV channels.
People tried to show off calmness, but the tension was palpable. Cellphone networks being jammed didn't help matters either, with everyone wanting to call up their near and dear ones (Google Talk came to the rescue).
Things cooled off a little bit by evening, but people were still tense because it was believed that this was just the trailer, a preview of things to come, when bombs won't be low intensity.
That was perhaps the greatest victory for the terrorists. They have now managed to infect the city with fear.
Bangalore will no doubt shake off this incident, and within no time will you see people flocking back to malls, markets and cinema halls. Politicians will use this to hail the 'tenacity' of the city and its people. And all will be well.

Is that 'tenacity'? really?
Some of it may be.. but isn't it also the typical Indian attitude of indifference? As long as it didn't happen to me, chalta hai, right? This is what the Indian Politician thrives on. All he has to do is look concerned, visit the affected area and announce compensations. News channels will track these for a week and move on to the next bad news. The terrorist knows this all too well. He stays low for 2 months and then begins planning his next attack.
The cycle continues. Deja vu.

Having said that, what difference can I make? can we all make?
Not much, to be honest. The best we can do is carry out protest marches asking for better preventive measures. But will it help?

The system is so badly inefficient and corrupt at every level that even if someone came up with some bold initiatives, it will probably not see the light of the day, or at best, fizzle out quietly after initiation.
Too many things need to be bettered too quickly to help prevent more such acts, starting from plugging the holes of infiltration from our dear neighbors all the way to improving (and keeping corruption free) human intelligence at local level. Needless to say, it won't happen.
I'm sorry if I made your day a little more glum than it was, but this is the sad truth of India.

Y'know, the day after, my wife said 'lets go to the market to buy vegetables'.
I hesitated. Even though it was only for a second. But I did.
And it wasn't because of my usual laziness.

My wife keeps telling me that I need to re-evaluate my life insurance.

Know what hon... I agree.

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