Saturday, July 15, 2006

Indians to government: Bounce back on this.

Terrorism: There were an astounding amount of articles after the Mumbai bombings about the quickness of the citizens bouncing back so quickly, showing so much heart and toughness. The people are saying we are tired of it and the government not doing its job.

A backlash against the authorities is taking hold in Bombay, five days after the bombings that killed 181 commuters and injured almost 900. There is a sense of anger and betrayal among those living in India's commercial capital that the state has failed to protect them from yet another terrorist attack. "Blood has become cheaper than water," said Atul Pataonde, a shopkeeper in the Bandra district. "These bombs keep happening but nothing changes." To many residents, talk of Bombay's "spirit" and "resilience" - words much deployed since Tuesday - has become meaningless from overuse. In 1993, 257 people died in the city's first serial blasts - and since then it has suffered 11 further bombings, albeit on a smaller scale. Last week's attacks pushed people's patience to the limit and shattered what little confidence they had in the government, which many accuse of taking advantage of their readiness to absorb pain and hardship. Raju Rathod, a commuter who jumped off a train moments after a carriage exploded, said: "By bouncing back, we let incompetent politicians off the hook. They know we'll cope. What we should do is get so angry we force them to give us some security." ....The public had performed heroically, pulling the injured and dead from wrecked train compartments, but there was little sense of a city in mourning, and as the week went on, anger mounted - not at the bombers, but at the authorities' slow reaction. It took the police so long to reach the seven bomb sites that, by the time they arrived, members of the public had carried away most of the victims. A visit by the prime minister, and two-minute silences planned for next week, have failed to quell public anger. "We don't expect much from our leaders, just some basic sense of security," said Sabina Datta, 42, a schoolteacher. "What about metal detectors or closed circuit cameras at stations?" Bombay generates more wealth, and pays more taxes, than any other Indian city, but most of its 17 million residents feel they get little in return. The city's police force possesses only seven sniffer dogs and even immediately after the attacks there was hardly any extra security at train or bus stations. Only luxury hotels were carrying out checks on drivers. "It's time we got angry, really angry, at the callous neglect of basic safety in public places. It's time to stop this 'bouncing back' nonsense," said Pritish Nandy, a film producer.
The sappy violin in the background type article that I was talking about follows the structure of this piece in Newsweek.
That is why the most stunning aspect of India's response to these latest bombings is not that the stock market went up 3 percent. Rather, it's that there was not even a whiff of tension between communities after the attack. Not one political leader, in a city dominated by the worst kind of sectarian politics, made a provocative statement; there was no public protest, no call for a strike. Why is this unique Indian story relevant to the rest of the world? There is a growing argument today that the war against radical Islam can be best fought—and won—in liberal democracies where Muslims live, where there is a polling booth to vent rage, where there are institutions for legal redress, and where inclusive economic growth is the ticket to fame, not a bomb-belt. There are 150 million such Muslims in India, and that's why when terrorists fail here, it should be cause for comfort everywhere.

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