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 pained 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 bottom 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.