I have a few questions …

Dec 13th – Almost 3 weeks have passed since the
attacks in Mumbai and I still find myself restless.  It feels as if it was yesterday and I can’t
seem to shake the images off.  There are
so many questions.  They just don’t stop

 Why did the fire at Taj take so long to put out?  Why wasn’t there a sense of urgency amongst
the firemen?  Why weren’t there dozens of
firemen heading into the Taj as opposed to 
2 standing on the ladder and helping
one person out at a time?  I saw 500
firemen run into the WTC on 9/11 and as many cops within 10 minutes of the first
crash – What happened to our guys?  Are we really that gutless?

 Within hours of the attacks taking place how was a civilian
like me allowed to break 3 security cordons and go to the Taj and the Oberoi? Why
did all the different security outfits look completely confused?  Why did they not seem to be in control?  Why did they not seem alert? Is their job toTaj fire
simply be present at the scene? Why wasn’t there one person coordinating the
entire effort?  Why didn’t we have any
information about what was going on? Why was the effort so chaotic? Why do our
security heads believe that keeping us in the dark is the best way to handle
such situations?  Why do they manipulate
every news item that comes out?  Why are
we only hearing stories about number of lives that were actually saved?  Why are we giving out 5 lacs for showing up
at the target site and 10 lacs for firing a bullet at the terrorists? Why do
they think we do not realize the truth?  Do they know the truth?

 Why were the 20 something reporters checking their
makeup?  Why were they calling friends
and asking if the sentences they were framing were grammatically correct since
this was their big chance and they wanted to get it ‘absolutely right?  Why were they asking foreigners if they would
come back to visit our country?  Why did
they look so excited?  Why did they seem that
as far as their careers were concerned this is as good as it was going to get?
Why do the interviewers speak more than the people being interviewed?  Why we projecting what we want to hear as
opposed to listening? Why do the anchors in the studio insist upon using the
word ‘exclusive’ in every sentence?  Do
we really care?  Do the media remember what their job really is?

 Why is our opposition leader referred to as prime-minister-in-waiting?  Why couldn’t he help himself from making
comments such as ‘the administration has failed and will need to provide
answers’?  Why did he think that it was
more important to let people know his schedule and why he has decided to not
visit Mumbai right away?  Why did he not
provide us with leadership, facts, and assurances?  Why did he not say something that brought us
together as human beings as opposed to dividing us L K Advani
based on political
affiliations?  Is it more important for
us to know how many times he has spoken to the prime minister or is it more
assuring to know what the government is doing to take charge of the
situation?  When did he become an expert
on terrorism activities?  What right does
he have to make wild claims, within hours, on which outfit was responsible for
these attacks without the right data and analysis?  How can an individual who single-handedly
gave terrorism a platform in this country – by destroying the Babri Masjid – be
our only leadership option?  How come our
streets are riddled with hoardings, posters and pictures of politicians take
credit for everything from our GDP growth to the death of the terrorists?  Why do political parties have free license to
disfigure our city?  Why don’t they pay,
like the rest of us, if they wish to use our outdoor media? Are we ok with
having our country run on personal feelings, whims and fancies? Who
are these people running our country and where did they come from?

 Why is the only inspiring Indian leader not of Indian
origin?  Why does our prime ministerManmohan Singh cari not
speak with the same passion that he did when he was finance minister?  Where is the man, who through his poetic and
arousing budget speeches in the parliament gave us reason to believe that
change was

possible?   Is he so caught up
in his politics that he has forgotten his mission?  Has he lost sight of the millions of Indians
who had our hopes pinned upon a new India when he came into
office?  Yes, we want a prime minister
who has a squeaky clean reputation; Yes, we want somebody who can take tough
stands; Yes, the man should be able to propel our nation forward; But more than
ever we need somebody who can move us.
 Somebody who can inspire us.  Somebody who speaks
to us from the heart.  Somebody we can relate to.  Somebody who can unite us.  Somebody we can have faith in.  Will the real Manmohan Singh please stand

Why do we make up stuff when asked questions by the
media?  Why do we feel compelled to smile
when a camera is in front of us even if people are dying behind us?  Why do we go about our daily lives without
answers to questions that deserve answers?  Why do we have such little value for human life? Why are we
so quick to take credit and so eager to blame? Why does somebody else’s success
make us so miserable? Why do we try to pass off somebody else’s work as our
own?  Why do we try to take ownership of
things that are not ours or credit for things we did not do?  Why do we behave so sneaky?  Why are we always trying to see what we can
‘get away’ with?  When did we lose our
sincerity?  Why do we always try to cut
the line we are standing in?  Why are we
willful to the point that we use words and sentences not for what they actually
mean but for what we want them to mean? 
Why do we always see things the way we want to see them as opposed to
what they actually are?  Why do we lie so
much?  Have we become completely spineless?

What action did our ex-Chief Minister taken in the last few
years?  Has anyone ever seen a bead of
worry on his forehead?  Why does he
always appear like he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar?  How does he sleep at night? Why do our
politicians feel that their job is to win elections and that their work ends
when they get into office?  Shouldn’t
their work start when they join office?  Why
does it seem like being in office is the celebration for fighting the election?
Why is being ‘in position’ the most important thing for us?  Isn’t being ‘in position’ the beginning and
not the end?  Do you ever get the feeling
that most people in this country are simply ‘getting in position’? Is there anybody left to take action?

What concrete steps have been taken since the crimes
occurred?  Yes, a couple of politicians
have lost their ‘positions’ but will that lead to any good or are they simply
being replaced by people who had also, at some point, lost their
‘positions’.  Does it feel like we are on
a merry-go-round?  Why have we still not
been given one single comprehensive view on what exactly happened?  Has a complete internal security plan been
presented before the people of this country? Have we been told how the victim’s
families should come to terms with this? 
What are we doing to make sure that people did not lose their lives in
vain?  Were they just collateral
damage?  Why can’t we have a cross-party task force to address all the issues
completely, cohesively, and quickly.  Where is our sense of duty that will ensure
that this never happens again?

I could go on and on and on because no matter how hard I try
the questions just don’t stop.  In the   
end, perhaps there is just one question that matters – What next?

                                                                Question mark





Mumbai Attacks – What each one of us can do in response

There is no question that the heinous crime in Mumbai was a cowardly act committed by ignorant human beings. My heart goes out to the people who have had to lose their loved ones in the cross fire between political factions, fundamentalist religions, and a world gone wrong. I have never been this paineDSC00252d about any disaster anywhere in the world. When the Pentagon blew up on 9/11, I was in my balcony in Washington DC but it did not have the kind of devastating impact I feel after Nov 26th. Perhaps it is because
this is closer home. Maybe it is because I grew up in these hotels – they are a stone's throw from where I live. It could be because I heard gun fire and saw explosions for 35 hours straight. It is probably because I know many of the people who perished personally. I am not sure what the reasons are but I know that this cannot go on. I don't have the answers yet. There are a million questions but no answers. I am sure many of you feel the same. I realize that a big part of the blame lies with our government but I also think that there is a bigger question – Can we really separate ourselves from our government? Isn't a government a reflection of it's people?

No, I am not blaming you or myself for the terrible tragedy that occurred. What I am saying is that we must take some responsibility to change things. I think that the biggest difference that all of us can make is to VOTE. Our country elects it's government based on caste and community. Besides the people at
the bot
DSC00250tom of the pyramid nobody shows up at the booths. If indeed, we let only the illiterate in our country elect our government how can we expect that they will elect anybody different. A starving man has a mentality of scarcity. One cannot teach him morals and values until his hunger is first taken care of. Leaving our government to the poorest of poor in our country ensures that they elect officials as hungry as them. The only difference is that the elected official's hunger comes from greed and the fact that he knows he can get away with manipulating the proletariat. He knows he can get away with murder, rape and fraud with complete apathy.

I don't know how many of you saw the coverage of the politician who was caught in a room at the Taj. He said that while he could hear the sounds he was not concerned as he had his laptop with him and hence was able to plan his entire upcoming campaign. He said 'he was happy'. Obviously, this cannot be a very intelligent man. An intelligent person, even if he felt the way this politician described, would probably not say what he did. This man is a product of an apathetic society. He is used to getting away with inane comments such as these. He does not have the basic common sense to know the difference between right and wrong leave alone tact. How can we blame him? All we can do is to make sure he does not get elected.

I think if we want to really make a change we should all resolutely make a decision – that we will vote. No matter how painful. No matter how long it takes. No matter how far we have to travel. But vote we must. In a democracy this is not only our right but our obligation. If we don't get in the way of inept people being elected into our government we have only ourselves to blame.

P:S – Another thing we can do is to educate our circle of influence – drivers, maids, workers, etc – on what voting means. They need to understand the consequences of electing people based on caste and creed as opposed to the ability to govern and administer. When we go to the booths the only thing that should matter is the potential of the person to govern his or her constituency effectively. Nothing else.