I've spent the whole day in front of the television watching NDTV's coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks. It feels unreal and at the same time shockingly real. Also there is a distinct feeling of deja-vu.
India has been facing a terror attack with a frightenning regularity. Wasn't it Bangalore, Ahmedabad , Delhi just a few weeks/months back? Or have we forgotten all about it. Admittedly, this time the scale was different as were the targets. All that follows, is almost the same. There was this slight change in the script this time with both the opposition and the government standing together instead of starting the blame-game right away. Everything else remains same. The only person who seemed to make any sense to me was Shobhaa De who was outraged and asked that something be done instead of politicians just offering their usual statements. She was so right in saying that our Prime Minister's speech was totally insipid and uninspiring. It was difficult to believe anything he said as it was clear that he was reading out a speech which he himself probably did not believe in. If that was meant to reassure his countrymen - well, he sure is living in a fantasy. Or maybe, he just did not want to upstage 'Madam' by sounding too good.
I wonder, when will our politicians start thinking about the country and start doing things.. For instance, instead of trying to just pass another anti-terror law/bill in the name of fighting terror, why don't they try and imrpove our police force. I am sure our police force could do with a better pay structure and benefits for the risks they take as part of their jobs. That might also go a long way in reducing the corruption levels. If we compare our 'havaldar' with constables in other parts of the world - it almost makes me laugh. Here in the UK, constables wear bulletproof vests while our havaldar would be lucky to carry a lathi. I am also sure that our police force is also seriously under-staffed. Also, are we really using all the avenues for intelligence gathering? Is our intelligence agencies adequately staffed. It is astonishing that the terrorists entered Mumbai through the sea.. It is shocking that more was not done to secure our coastal border especially since we have victims of terror attacks so many times..
It is surprising that our politicians seem to do almost nothing to try and ensure that we donot have another attack on Indian soil. I am no supporter of George W. Bush and his government, but to give the devil his due, atleast there were no attacks on American soil after 9/11, which is much, much more than one can say for our Indian Governments!
As Shobhaa De said, the Indians have shown restraint and have been calm for too long. Maybe it is time that we held our politicians accountable for the job they were elected to do.