Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai Meri Hai

Mumbai Meri Hai
Every Mumbaikar needs to make Usha Uthup’s unforgettable , jaunty number, “Mumbai Meri Hai…” into a personal anthem to reclaim the city we all love…. and which has been appropriated by people who clearly have zero stakes in it. People who call themselves our leaders, who now strut around ‘sanitised’ areas, with their security personnel, mouthing platitudes…. and worse insults, that wound the citizenry with the callousness of their content.
Shivraj Patil has finally been shamed into resigning. But what about the other local Patil, R.R., whose shockingly insensitive remark ( “ bade, bade shahron mein aise hadse hote rehte hai…”) incensed so many shell-shocked Mumbaikars, that tv channels were requested to kill that clip by his staffers, afraid of violent reactions to his ‘casual’ comment. Almost immediately mass smes started flying across the city, demanding Patil’s head and pointing out how he should have reserved the zeal expended on chasing the city’s bar girls out, for chasing terrorists who caused such unprecedented devastation that took so many lives. Going by the magnitude of the ‘aam janata’s’ response to the heartless handling of the crisis by our netas in New Delhi, why stop with Shivraj Patil? Why not hold Manmohan Singh equally responsible? After all, moral responsibility starts at the top. The chief must take the rap first before looking for scapegoats.
For the very first time, the people of Mumbai have united as one, and have woken up to the fact that together we stand, divided we fall. I was saddened by the attitude of various foreign journalists from across the world who called to ask, “ You mean there is no sectarian violence in Mumbai so far?? Communal riots have not broken out?” They sounded disappointed! Such is the perversity we are dealing with. And to all those Mumbaikars holding candle light marches, meeting at the Gateway of India, or urging people to wear black, I want to say these sweet and simple acts of solidarity, may bring some solace to our troubled minds, but they remain symbolic and somewhat hollow. What we need to safeguard ourselves and secure the city, must go beyond holding hands and lighting diyas. We must plan ahead, with specific ,achievable and enforceable targets coupled with accountability\ penalty clauses. Get the best brains on board – import them if necessary. Increase police-spend substantially. Train all those whose jobs involve protecting citizens ( firemen included), and have an aggressive attitude while dealing with terrorists. Revisit old, antiquated laws. Provide more autonomy to those on the job. Show no mercy. Show some teeth.
Some of the most influential, powerful and affluent people in India reside in Mumbai. Specifically, in South Mumbai. They must emerge from their cocoons and lead from the front without any political interventions whatsoever. But will they?? Can they afford to? Will personal business interests dominate all other considerations? Too many self-serving voices have been heard. The worst being those of P.R. agents peddling stories to the celeb-hungry media on behalf of their clients – unheard of tv starlets, botoxed socialites and other urban horrors we really don’t give a damn about. Ban them Blank out these cheap publicity-seekers. And do the same with politicians in search of soundbytes and photo ops.
So many vital questions remain unanswered. Who will respond to our legitimate queries, given that so many politicos are busy preening for the cameras themselves, instead of staying in the war room, planning how best to regroup and strategise, now that various clues are being pieced together. With all due respect to the dead – the heroes who laid down their lives in the line of duty – there was a singular lack of professionalism in the fact that three top cops (one in mufti) got into the Qualis together when they were aware terrorists were on the prowl. The cops became sitting ducks. I was at the Taj, a mere hour and a half before the blood bath began, and was surprised to notice that after months of very stringent security measures ( sniffer dogs, metal detectors, sensors,barricades, rerouting of cars, no access but the central one) being in place, almost all of them had been removed virtually overnight, with the side and back entrances left unmanned and open. Under whose instructions was this decision taken? Ditto for security at the CST, which had seen a formidable, fortress-like situation with sand bagged enclosures and heavily armed personnel …. till last week. Why were they withdrawn? Even to this day, nobody is sure exactly how many terrorists arrived in the city, or even how many may have been present earlier, master minding operations. The grand, old Taj could not provide the Marcos with a map of the premises – they were sent in cold – while the terrorists possessed a detailed floor plan all along. Nobody has assured Mumbaikars so far, that there are no escapees who may have slipped out as tourists\guests from the two hotels during the rescue operations. There was also a spectacular lack of co- ordination during the entire operation, especially during the first few crucial hours, when all the people involved seemed to be bumbling along without clear directions from one central body. We still don’t know whose orders were being followed, nor who was in command throughout. It became equally obvious that neither the city, nor the hotels have a crisis management programme in place that provides an immediate plan of action in an emergency. Look at how efficiently and swiftly the South African body guards swung into action at the Trident and saved so many lives. There was discipline and arduous training behind the drill they followed. Our brave men used their hearts, when minds were needed far more.
The scariest aspect of the assault on Mumbai, is the chilling question – is it really and truly over? The accurate response is – yes - for now. Perhaps another sleeper cell is hard at work right at this minute, planning the next attack – warnings of which we shall ignore once again, as we did this one, too. Those demons are ten steps ahead of us. They came from the sea. Next time, they may strike us from the air. Their targets could be the RBI building, the WTC, our docks and railway stations Will we be prepared? The Air Force base in Pune is but ten short minutes of flying time away. But those ten minutes are enough to flatten even the biggest city. To save ourselves, we the people of the city will have to find our own solutions. The horrific truth is, Mumbai remains naked and vulnerable even now. With evil political vultures circling it for pickings that fill their own stomachs. Shame on all of them!


neeraj_only said...

without any doubt we are highly unprepared to handle terrorists . It is easy to blame our neighbours then to prepare ourselves for such audacious act of crime against humanity . This is high time to act otherwise we shall be caught guessing next time also .

Anonymous said...

You bring up an excellent point in stating that the security outside the Taj had been removed on that fateful night. This is unacceptable at a five-star hotel which is supposed to provide a restful haven for many prominent businessmen, foreigners, and diplomats. Additionally, there has been oversight in taking care of our own citizens. It alarms and frightens me to think that anyone could so easily enter a train station, armed with a gun (!), to create so much bloodshed, so many tears, and such loss for the entire nation.

We must be conscious of the world we inhabit, now - more than ever. Citizens must report suspicious activity in a timely manner. And the police must thoroughly investigate - everything. And you are correct in stating that vigils and prayers and the sense of unity that is being displayed now - is comforting and sweet. But I pose the same question with you - where is action?

Priya Singh said...

Love him or hate him what we need is Narendra Modi. I never thought i would ever say this in my life but he is a real man, a man who calls a spade a spade and in a moment like this he makes me feel safe. My families safety comes first ans so i feel Modi should be PM.

Arunima said...

Agreed....agreed to you a thousand times. But ma'am all these words strike our chords because we feel this intense pain & vulnerability from the bottom of our heart. What about those in power & position? They have still not learnt the lesson. The preventive measures that you are thinking about, only the one holding the reins can excise. But they don't even bother about it. Ultimately the question that looms large is WHAT & WHO will help us so that we become a united, safe & secure nation....if not powerful.

Anonymous said...

It helps that we are having this dialogue. The advancement of technology allows us to express these views and spread the word. We are more informed of the situation in this era than ever before, thanks to the internet and thriving media. We cannot wait for those "holding the reigns" to wake up and serve our purposes, when they have already failed, time and again. We must create the change we so desperately need. I would like to see rallies in India, I would like to see press conferences with political officials being asked the important questions and being held accountable. Sure, the political system is corrupt. But it is no excuse for us to sit back and accept our fate. We ought to be more proactive. And thanks to the international coverage of this incident, I'm sure that Indian officials will be scrutinized not only from within the country but also by other nations. The loss of human life demands explanation.

Anonymous said...

Wallowing in self doubt and helpless won't cut it this time.

Arise the new leadership ! Arise ! Arise !

Anonymous said...

As Vir Sanghvi writes, and I agree, we are one of the three countries where repeated terrorism reigns unchecked...Pakistan & Afghanistan are the other two countries, just in case you were wondering! Not only our so-called politicians, but each and every citizen of India (living in the country or abroad)must hang their heads in shame. Me included. Being on par with these two does that feel? It hurts, doesn't it? So much for the emerging superpower status. We have gloated enough about these things. Now is the time for some real action and actually earn & deserve this status. Let's stop looking for any leadership & guidance from our nincompoop politicians. Today its the Congress. Tomorrow it could be the BJP that's culpable. I say, why expect any shape and form of moral responsibility from people who have no morals? I appreciate that this is not the time for Gandhigiri...but still, let us all try and be the change that we want to see in our country. Let's put together a citizens initiative. Let's look at our varied security systems (or the lack of it) and work towards putting forward constructive and helpful suggestions. Let's put our money where our mouth is!

Jai Hind. Jai Mumbai.

•♥•♥[V]♥•♥• said...

you wrote...
//at the Taj, a mere hour and a half before the blood bath began, and was surprised to notice that after months of very stringent security measures ( sniffer dogs, metal detectors, sensors,barricades, rerouting of cars, no access but the central one) being in place, almost all of them had been removed virtually overnight, with the side and back entrances left unmanned and open. Under whose instructions was this decision taken? Ditto for security at the CST, which had seen a formidable, fortress-like situation with sand bagged enclosures and heavily armed personnel …. till last week. Why were they withdrawn? Even to this day, nobody is sure exactly how many terrorists arrived in the city, or even how many may have been present earlier, master minding operations. The grand, old Taj could not provide the Marcos with a map of the premises – they were sent in cold – while the terrorists possessed a detailed floor plan all along.///

maybe someone knew what was about to happen...maybe someone wanted this to happen...

today i learned a lot through some highly respected of them an IPS, that a lot of things were fabricated.

I think you already know that in TAj there was a room that was already stuffed with half the ammunition before..for T's.They brought half the ammunition with them rest was already there.

@ priya singh
You have no idea what this man is capable off...

i can't name names..but after what i have learned today..i can't blame Pakistan govt. What can they do when our own politicians want this to happen.

take care

Anonymous said...

To Vote or Not to Vote.
i m thinking.

quellehorreur!!! said...

Botoxed urban horrors using this as an opportunity for their own PR - I hope you weren't referring to yourself here?

Why don't you stand as an independent from South Mumbai in the upcoming elections? And do all the things you are raving and ranting about?

Anonymous said...

it's terrible tragedy - but why are you focusing on doom??

Stop preaching and screeching, and DO something! Lead by example.

It's a perfectly wonderful thing to light candles etc, coz these acts are healing, and uniting. We need these acts at such times, rather than just get propelled into further fear and insecurity by the likes of you.

Stop being so negative, be proactive.

Anonymous said...

Erm...could you move beyond your South Mumbai focus? (makes me wonder if you really are worried about all of Mumbai and India, or just the inconvenience of no more sushi at wasabi and lounging at the sea lounge?)

coz if you are talking about people who are movers and shakers, surely you cannot forget our very charismatic and influential filam and tv stars who tend to stay in the bandra, juhu and northern mumbai?

people are more likely to listen to them and bring about societal change than to some ugly ass industrialist from south mumbai..

or his pulled-up-wrinkly skin old bag of a wife

Anonymous said...

typos in the previous posts, my apologies :

should read as:.... film and tv stars who tend to stay in bandra, juhu and northern mumbai?

Suhasini Ranghanathan said...

I agrees with Priya Singh. We need a strong leader like George Bush and only 1 persone comes to mind and that is Narendra Modi.

I only wish he stops his anti-muslim rhetoric and highlight the great job he has done in gujarat.

Here in Chennai we really respect him and wish MODI becomes PM.

Anonymous said...

quellehorreur!!! - As a supporter of Shobhaa De and all her efforts to unite people and keep politics out of the picture, I must say that your comments appear to be rather crass and prejudiced. It disappoints me to read such negative, personal attacks on any forum which is meant to be a venue of intelligent discussion.

Anonymous said...

@ quellehorreur & the anonymous person who commented just after him/her

Just drop it, okay? If you people do not have anything constructive or positive to contribute, then I suggest you please refrain from swinging by here.

Anand K said...

Did the NSG teams have the following equipment:

- Night vision googles
- Smoke masks and oxygen tanks

If not we need the government to answer these hard questions?

The NSG or any rapid response force needs its own airplanes, heavy lift gear. Coordinated communication systems are needed too - I sure hope no one died because of "friendly fire" in all this chaos.

Most importantly - I pray and hope that they have this captured terrorist in a super secure location - where there is NO opportunity for someone to kill him or for him to commit suicide

Anonymous said...

one small addition to your list of unanswered questions :



Anonymous said...

I wonder why NSG commandos couldn't have been flown in by helicopter, considering the seriousness of the issue. Even if the government had to use half a dozen helicopters, it might have made a difference to the end result. We waste public funds on frivolous things like, political campaigns, air displays and commonwealth youth games where air force helicopters are used to shower rose petals and display aerobatics. Why the devil couldn't they have been used to ferry in the commandos when it was required? They could have landed at the Mahalaxmi Race Course or even at the helipads of the rich and famous. Didn't the Chief Minister think of this?

sandeep said...

U know whats more tragic than the scores of brave police and army officers who lost their lives? THe glitteratti/page3/socialites trying to associate themselves to the tragedy. Turning up in designer white clothes to light candles and give “sound bytes” to our celeb obsessed media. Of course, when the blasts took place in 2006, killing 200+ mainly train commuters, not a whisper/rant was heard from them. But when the targets are the rich, and some of the fellow socialites, the whines get louder and louder. Sample this:
Koena mitra: “i joined 6 facebook groups to show my support”.
Maninee De:” I was planning to throw a party at the Taj, but its ruined now…”
How very noble of these ladies to join online forums, sitting in the confines of their bedrooms. I can bet you that these flakes have never ever visited a poll booth in all their lives.Neither have they done anything which could be of help to the community(simple things like community service/literacy/environmental issues). Now they’ve got a golden oppurtunity to make themselves heard and more sadly, will succeed since the likes of RGV were seen at the Taj yesterday, possibly for new recruits for his upcoming “hard hitting” movies. ANd of course our media, which featured the likes of Kunal Kohli and Simi Garewal, moaning the same “govt is inefficient blah blah” for a full hour in one of the chat shows.
Of course, there are a few genuinely concerned and discreet personalities from the glamour world/social circuit(Shoba de,Aamir khan,Mr Bachhan to name a few). But they are easily outnumbered by the dumb blonde oppurtunists who know fully well to be seen at the right place and the right time and most importasntly, with the right people

Traveler said...

Dear Shobhaji,

I thought of writing this here as you are in a better position to have an influence than I am.
I am surprised that we, the people of India, want our politicians to be accountable to us. They are accountable, not us but to the party chiefs who appoint them in their positions. Our PMs, CMs and Presidents are all appointed these days. The party candidates for the MP and MLA positions are selected not elected through primaries.

Having watched the U.S. election process closely, I am convinced that this is a big difference and the main reason for our troubles. Till the candidates have been around long enough to be considered for these positions they make enough compromises that choosing one candidate over another doesn't make much difference. They try to remain loyal and accountable to their chiefs. This removes any possibility of someone with fresh ideas and limited political clout, such as Obama, to be elected and bring any true changes. I believe our political system has been rigged by the party chiefs and their cronies to perpetuate their rule.
We need a political system more along the lines of U.S. which allows individual accountability to the public and fresh ideas.
I hope if you feel convinced by this argument you would take actions to bring some fundamental changes. It is stupid to continue doing the same things and expect different results.


Sonja Chandrachud said...

I am tired of all the posturing, everyone instantly indulges in this country after a tragedy...How many of us will truly let our kids step into the line of fire....the Jihadis do and so they succeed. Take a moment and visit my blog - would like to know what you think.

Anonymous said...

great you hats off to the marters and sheeed jawans write facts and truth so easylly and bluntly ........ i am a Big fan of your writing style .......!

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Ramesh Srivats said...

True. Anyway, at least a few of the jokers are being sacked. Though the sad part is that there are a hundred other jokers waiting to take their place.

Btw, guess who Shivraj Patil met on his way home...

Shivraj Patil debates with Sardar Vallabhai Patel on who was the better home minister. Check

MARILYN said...

Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.

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