Saturday, November 29, 2008

The anti flag waving piece: this isn't v 2.0 of 9/11

If you haven't read Ingrid Srinath's take on the Mumbai attacks yet, you should.

This post originated as a comment on Ingrid's original piece. I'm not sure if I can fully convey how fiercely glad I am that she worded her reflection just the way she did.
Nailed it on the head, Ingrid has.

What resonated with me most is that what she has done is successfully point out the real, grit-ground that exists between bill-board versions of black and white heroes and villains, with the cavalry riding in just on cue. The piece tells us that it is on the citizens of a city, any city, to come together if security and a way of life is to be preserved.

She is absolutely right: no emergency law can come into effect, only because there are too many loop holes, far too many variables to control; stricter laws would fail every glorious mission just as any crack down would.

That is not to say that security at the state and national level cannot be reviewed seriously. India needs no Military Industrial Complex, but at the very least, no one should be able to approach a city's port without being reviewed by coast guards. Well-trained, well-armed coast guards. A lot more than just metal detectors are required in this brave new world of ours, if we intend to preserve life and limb of everyone: not just the powerful, the majority, the rich or the foreign.

What I would like to see is a grass-root, decentralized guerrilla movement of our own-- Not one that equips youth, the lonely and the estranged with hatred, propaganda, fanaticism, weapon skills and fake passports, but one that equips that same youth, the blissfully ignorant and brooding, the passionate and the complacent, the middle-aged, student and everywoman with an awareness of what it takes to preserve one's home and city-- the community skills and ideas that make individuals realize that they are the first care-taker and good neighbor, not the police, and that there is no entitlement to safety & well being based solely on social or income levels, anymore.

Not just idealism. Practical facts of life as well, such as-- don't crowd around an attack site. Don't hang around because it's exciting. Don't participate in rabble-rousing. Just the basics, really.

It's worked for Linux, for Google, for Obama, Live Earth and Second Life: we know that people can and do come together, online and in person, without the burden of hierarchy, more positively and effectively than ever before. Why not have our own training cells, our own workshops, our own classroom visits? Every action causes an equal and opposite reaction, we're told.
It's about time we stood up and counted ourselves as part of the response to glocal terrrorism.

It's about time that we-- Indians, Tourists, Mumbaikars, Policy Makers, Writers, Film Stars, Dhoodh Wallas, NGO workers all-- stop, really, STOP with writing off Bombay in packaged, star-dusted, jalebi-like versions of the truth. Today's NYTimes carried an article by Mr. Suketu Mehta, a tribute that subsided into romanticized notions of Mumbai as some sort of colourful, cheerfully sinful Camelot, hated for its Camelotness by the evil baddies, who Mr. Mehta paints as multi-lingual ogres and fanatical knights. Views like this can only complicate the situation. Yes, Mr. Mehta--- keep the spirits of the city up by all means, sing and dance and spend money in Bombay-- Celebrate life, its spicy excess! But in the name of everything that is awake, adopt some of the ideas, at least, that Ingrid suggests in her piece: participate and learn. vote and organize, don't just blame. party hard, but thrash out ideas, work at divesting your children and families of stereotypical thinking even harder.


Piyush Ramteke (tmioh) said...

For once someone gave a neutral point of view. Thank you.

Scherezade said...

We need to disengage from pop patriotism, jingoism etc.It's nausea inducing that even in such dire times, our identity is often tied to the West's and we feel the need to resort to such nomenclature as "India's 9/11".How?

Yes, one can identify with that universal sense of agnoy and sadness that clouds the brain and numbs the heart when a beloved city, a very real entity - hell, it's my only constant in the last few eyars - burns and bleeds but we need to look beyond blame games. Look for real answers.Ask sensible questions. Introspect. Enable the youth. As a 24 year old Mumbaikar, I am choosing to stay back in this country this year (I was supposed to head to Amreeka and my original home city NYC) despite that this is not the easiest route. And I am a better person because of this choice.
Any change needs to be internal. First.
Yes, there needs to be a grass-roots movement that is stronger than the hate dispensing votaries crowding the bylanes of South Asia or North America or wherever.
I am glad you wrote this. Props.


Winnowed said...

A very sensible post.We need more people like you.