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Saturday, December 27, 2008

A month after Mumbai, 4 years after Tsunami...differences in response

The news paper reports are today replete with people paying homage to Mumbai terror attack victims as well as  recollection and homage of those who died in the tsunami 2004.

One natural disaster that saw, in response, a resurgence of human compassion and voluntarism while the other disaster wrought by humans led astray is responded to with anger and animosity. As the year comes to an end, war on Pakistan is increasingly being spoken to as 'when' and not as 'if'. Pakistan itself seems to be under greater  belief that India will go on a war with them. 

The war is being already fought by the media.  The media in Pakistan seems to be working overtime now.  I am sure that makes better business sense, imagine Indians had terror attack and could get good TRP for a television for a week maybe, Pakistan is selling the response to terror and getting probably better TRP (or whatever is the equivalent there) for a month. 

Modern technology and economic organization that provided Kasav and his people with easy access to guns, grenades, global phones and positioning systems has also provided the media in both countries with information on weapon capabilities, about the N processes, about the preparedness for attack, minutes for response, about weapons and their uses...the amount of knowledge we possess on instruments of violence seems endless. 

Many Indians feel that we should show that we too, 'know' how to use these tools of violence, Pakistanis feel that they should show their superior 'knowledge' on the tools of violence, while fanatics on both sides tease each other about each others' ability to use such 'knowledge'.

If the sense of security of a nation comes out of its knowledge of violent tools and methods, it must be a extremely violent society to begin with. I don't think our knowledge (and possession)  of tools of violence provides us with the sense of security.  If the response to the Mumbai attack results in us getting increasingly aggressive in acquiring, possessing and exhibiting (using) tools of mass violence, then we only perpetuate the violence, not work against it. Response to human pain cannot be in causing more human pain, response to the sense of hurt in a nation's pride cannot be solved by hurting another nation's pride. We did not win our Independence by hurting the pride of the colonials. They did not become our 'enemies' despite causing greater damage to us and killing more people for longer duration. 

I don't think India is a violent nation, it does not come to us naturally to be violent. Violent people are not majority in this country, violence does not stay in power too long either. Our tendency is to gravitate towards peaceful existence, and what we tend to, is our true stable nature, our own character.  This is defined by the traditions we have built and the leaders we have come to revere. However, we don't seem to have created either pride in this character or suitable methods of applying it in all situations. Gandhi successfully applied it against the Colonials, and since then it has surfaced once in awhile in different policies almost inadvertently.

As the year draws to the end, the image of the Mumbai attack will overshadow all other images and moments for most of us. The response to this attack on the nation's pride could unite us as a nation. We could be united  as a mob, faceless, identity-less, lynching an unequal but protesting and fighting 'enemy' or we could be united with an understanding of our true character that bring in spontaneous bonding and could make us stronger. Such understanding was seen after the tsunami, in the way many Indians bonded and worked together with complete strangers, in an understanding of compassion and peaceful co-existence. Our responses then were highly innovative, they were spontaneous and made us stronger. Our response now? 

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