By Bala Murali Krishna
The day after is when we lose it.
Take this morning. It was Mumbai as usual. That was what was wrong. That’s not how it should have been. But everybody searched for that normality and “found” it, too. Such is the character of the bustling city of 20 millions, Mumbaikars tell themselves. We outsiders echo that sentiment, with regard bordering on envy. We even see strength in it.
It is actually a weakness and it is time we realized it.
We ought to bring things to a standstill, if only to prove to ourselves and our lost ones that human life matters more – more than the humdrum things we do in the course of a day. We need to do this also to make inept authorities take notice. It is no longer enough to cry hoarse in front of television cameras – as many of Mumbaikars did after the 26/11 terror attacks three years ago.
Our governments are traditionally callous, and our leaders are traditionally shameless. Look at what Rahul Gandhi had to say today. According to his wisdom, 99 percent of the terror strikes in the country had been prevented due to vigilance and intelligence. The point is, our leaders will do anything to explain away failures and rationalize. We play into their hands by allowing life to go on as usual, and let them make vain proclamations such as, “Terror will not stop us.”
We must stop to take a fresh, hard look at how we want to live, and how we want to be governed.
Time and time again, we hear our leaders say every Indian city is vulnerable, and Mumbai more so. That is pure bunkum. If anything, Mumbai should be easier to guard. It is, after all, a narrow strip of land measuring 603 square kilometers. It is half the size of New York, which has been able to keep away terror for nearly a decade.
Last month, the television channel CNN-IBN ran an expose on poor security on Mumbai’s coastline nearly three years after Ajmal Kasab and others sailed into India’s financial capital to launch an audacious terror attack. Its journalists counted 56 “gaping lacunae” in the city’s coastline that made Mumbai a “sitting duck for (another) 26/11-like attack.”
Now, of course, we know that Mumbaikars are sitting ducks, regardless. Whatever we saw the day after the terror attacks, we didn’t see leadership among Mumbai’s citizens, presumably because it was business as usual for everybody.