Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mumbai is so resilient

Yesterday, 7 bomb blasts brought the city to a crunching halt. Four hours later, trains on the western railway line were operational. Today, everyone went back to their offices and schools and life continued as normal. Mumbai bounces back in a single day. Great, admirable, commendable, that the city can recover so soon. But I cannot help feel that this same resilience allows the government and concerned officials to relax, to not even put a token effort in trying to come up with measures that will help the city in case of a repeat occurance.

Granted that it is not at all an easy task trying to prevent terrorism of this sort. It might even be impossible to eliminate it in its present form. But that doesnt let the state and national machinery off the hook. The fact is that even the simple, day to day, routine measures that are being adopted at other cities such as NYC or London to try and prevent future attempts are simply not present in Mumbai. That the government will not do anything on its own is a given. But part of the problem is the city itself.

Now do not take me wrong, for the resilience of the city is a very good thing. It allows us to show the proverbial finger to the terrorists; they cannot disrupt our life for long. But on the other hand, if the aftermath had lingered on for a while, public resentment does not die a natural death. It builds up with every passing day where the routine is not followed. And this resentment can prove to be a very powerful thing.

If riots can get the officials to really take notice, so can open and prolonged resentment against the state machinery for not doing its job. The longer it lasts, the more likely it is to spread to other cities; after all they may be next on the terrorists hit-list. A mass movement like this cannot simply be ignored by the government. The fall-out of such a movement would have its own benefits, with increased security measures.

Call me an idealist if you must. But when people continue on with their lives as if the blasts were nothing but a small blip, the motivation to force the authorities to do something dies down soon enough for the officials to go back to sleep. People must stop behaving as if nothing has happened. They must raise a huge hue and cry about this issue, throw a tantrum, whatever. It is for their own good.


Gaurav said...

I would disagree. The resilience of the Mumbaikars is awe-inspiring and a good thing for the authorities. I am sure they could do a better job of finding these criminals now than with the public breathing down their neck with protests of how they did not do their job properly. The fact remains- Such terrorist acts are hard to stop and a faith in the authorities will only help them do their job better.

Sailesh Ganesh said...

Gaurav: It is not just about finding the criminals. It is not just about letting the authorities do their job. The more important thing is to make sure we dont have a repeat. To make sure the government is forced to respond to this with some stern action, rather than simply mouthing platitudes about not giving in to the terrorists.

The government did nothing to prepare for such a situation. It did nothing to even try to prevent such a situation. It is all about forcing the government to change its ways.

C.G. said...

I too would like to disagree here. It's the resilience that keeps this city going. They are not like a Calcutta or Kerala where burning buses would make the administration give them rice at Rs 2 per kilo (just a hypothetical example). Here the average guy knows that if he does not go to work no one is going to feed him least of the government. He has to provide for himself and his family even if it means getting on that same train because that's the only means of transport he can afford.
Mumbai must be commended that it rises inspite of it's unsympathetic government.

Rohini said...

Tantrums can often lead to riots... that's the last thing Mumbai needs now...

MVDevraj said...

The resilience story has gone on for far too long.Our authorities and politicians have the easy out of placing the blame on Pakistan for everything that happens at our doorstep.If it is Pakistan then we should talk tough and get a solution.Or else admit that we are too weak for that solution.It is not just good enough to pay lip service by saying we will not tolerate terrorism of any type.The only way to push the Govt.machinery is by resorting to magnifying the voice of aam admi.

Ashish Gupta said...

Alternate perspectives.

1. Resilience. Or alternatively, Mubaikar's don't have another option. They have to go to routine of daily lives anyway. As someone said, nobody will feed them. Having no choice is not same as chosing the only option.

2. Mumbai's spirit. Good thing actually. But which city in India did not show such spirit that Mumbaikar's are patting themselves?

These comments don't belittle or scorn at attacks, I am an Indian myself and feel the pain. Yet, perhaps we should look things differently, or at least think about?