Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Deplorable Terrorist Attacks On Mumbai

Time to send in the MARCOs (India's elite Marine Commandos)?

Shocking news out of India this morning. It is certainly going to make travel a challenge, and cause people to be more careful in public places. My mother is currently in Northern India, visiting family. Her residence is close to the national Capitol buildings in New Delhi, so I expect to hear much more about security measures on the phone tonight...

I frequented Mumbai many a time when I studied in South Coastal India. I will always remember the city as "Bombay", as it has been in all my visits. I've been to the Taj, and the Obroi... both Bombay landmarks. These hotels are grand beyond what Western standards can fathom for "7 diamond/5 star" hotels. Imagine the National Geographic specials you've seen highlighting hotels in Dubai in the UAE. Luxury hotels in India are very similar. While there are very modern conveniences in the country, the modernity cannot hide the ancient. The ancient which often hides ghettos, ethnic enclaves, and dark alleys that can harbor all sorts of criminal activity and easy access to any type of weapon (typically smuggled into India in exchange for drugs on secluded coastal stretches. As foreign students, we were admonished to stay FAR away from the beaches at night).

The city of Mumbai has been festering for quite some time - despite the modern luster of "Bollywood" and India's trade and finance sector. High incidence of underworld crime, ethnic crime, and ethnic ghetto-ization has led to regular flare-ups, which seem to be getting worse and worse. Not sure who's to blame - it could be one of a variety of groups (Kashmiri separatists, Separatist tribal groups from East India, gangs trying to destabilize local politics, people upset about the economy, etc.).

While Indian democracy rolls along, every now and then it needs to stand up to separatist "balkanizing" challenges from various groups. They will overcome this, as they have other threats in the past. The collective voices of 1 billion + citizens wanting peace, security, and secularism cannot be overlooked.

I pray that religious extremists and rabble-rousers don't take this opportunity to take out their hate on scapegoat groups. Terrorism is a crime, pure and simple. Let the established police agencies handle it, and don't assume that every member of a particular group is a terrorist because of some act that roughly a few one-billionths of the population did.

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