Mumbai: What Now?

I spent Thursday at home watching the events unfolding on TV. Even now on Friday morning, security operations are still continuing at the two hotels (Taj and Trident-Oberoi), and Nariman House. The scale and audacity of the terrorism which has taken place is  slowly beginning to unfold. Few of us would have seen anything like this before in our life. A friend came by home yesterday — he was at the Trident when the firing started on Wednesday night, and was lucky to escape unhurt.

Everyone wants answers: Who are these terrorists?  How did they execute such an intricate plan? Did they have help from within? How come Indian intelligence had no clue about all this? 2008 has seen more than its fair share of attacks in different cities in India. There is a frustration setting in people that our political leadership has been extremely weak in dealing with the situation. A number of Mumbaikars spoke out on TV with a common refrain:”Enough is enough.”

Today, we will go back to work.  But this time around, we just cannot forget and move on.Ensuring safety for its citizens (and not just for themselves) is the government’s top priority. National security is now India’s #1 challenge. Over the past 4 years, India has lost more citizens to terrorism than any other country except Iraq. Even as we can blame “forces across the border”, we need to do a lot of introspection — what can each of us do to ensure a safe and secure future. We cannot live in a permanent state of fear and uncertainty. Suddenly, one gets a sense of what it must be to have lived in Beirut a couple decades ago or Baghdad until recently. This is not the Mumbai I grew up in and spent most of the first four decades of my life.

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