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Saturday, 10 September 2011

Mumbai And Delhi Terrorist Attacks: Will India Shining Vanish And Indians Share Pakistani Life?


Although strike by terrorists shifted from the commercial capital, Mumbai, to the state capital, Delhi, in their latest success story, many facts remained strikingly the same. Elusiveness of the plan, death of ordinary innocents, chaotic hospital visits by healthy politicians, condemnation of terrorism and the appeals for calmness, all remained the same. Matching that and planning secrecy, terrorists remained as elusive as Harrison Ford in ‘The Fugitive’. As gleefully desired by the political class denizens repeated the mantra ‘We must remain united’, and tracing ‘We won’t bow down to terrorism’ even reinvented routine life the next day.
The only fact that unknowingly changed was; from national tragedy, act of city terrorism inched towards law and order problem.

BUT WHY?

Matching extremism, while a terrorist act just needs a bag, chemicals, trigger and an innocent crowd at one extreme, it needs a colossal measure of intension, ideas, cash, trained staff and technology for its prevention on the other. Unlike the USA, which woke up after 9/11 and prevented further attacks, controlling terrorism hasn’t been as easy for India as getting cinematic or constitutional plots from the West. India, for that matter, lacks most of the needed. With ordinary folks - not ones with Z security- seeing death, communal killing lessening ‘We will stand united’ producing less vocal office going denizens- as if invoking ‘nothing has happened’, election not yet there and corruption ranking higher in scale, less intense intension gets less priority. No wonder, India found its politicians engaged in a meeting to assess the recommendations following earlier attacks, at the time of the next.
Although not quite lacking in cash, being less in priority resources don’t come easily. Even when available, unlike futuristic vision of the terrorists, incidents, not visions, seem to bring ideas. As an example, when a state’s Chief Minister was unable to contact his police chief for 15 min after an attack, the need for a hot phone line was thought essential. While trained staff are few and ill equipped, timing of their presence is after, not before, attacks. Almost matching it and teasing the state with ‘Catch me if you can’, emails claiming responsibilities flood after the incident. Before it, even single source spy clue is hard and threat level remains unknown, if not closer to zero. But then, the advice to be alert is constant and for all time. Even when decisions are made, lacking a central command and control system, as its home minister later lamented, responsible departments show implementation unease.

WHAT SHOULD INDIA DO?

Although members of its well protected political class are still secure, they have to realize the facts said above. There has to be seriousness in intension, allocation of adequate budgets, formation of a centralized command and control unit, training of large number of field officers, and use of latest technologies to make cities like ancient castles. Equally, India has to produce ideas. For this, experts should be hired from the developed countries and terrorism conferences done routinely for inventory ideas. Technology, not men, should man its porous borders.

Although, if Maoist affected villages and less reported ‘North East’ are taken into account, India is already plagued, if terrorism is not controlled effectively its cities are going to follow suit. If India does not invest enough cash to protect itself and this happens, foreigners will not invest cash in India. In addition to serially losing precious lives, as in Pakistan, attacks will seriously affect ‘India shining’.
If the ‘Guys next door are hell bent on destroying India’ is given credence and that making 70% of Punjab adults drug addicts is accepted as gospel truth, Delhi isn’t far. India’s future increasingly looks gloomy either way. However, she cannot afford to be in a state as USA was before 9/11. Not sure if India needs help but having much to offer, world needs India.

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