(Online Journal, December 18, 2008 )
Tragedy and trauma magnify a nation’s awareness or lack thereof. The events surrounding the Mumbai carnage have revealed certain aspects of India’s collective psyche that provide food for thought and perhaps a lesson to learn.
The country had already suffered a wave of mindless bombings and targeted attacks on Muslim and Christian minorities recently. That the killings in Mumbai by Muslim gunmen, whose victims included dozens of fellow Muslims, did not lead to further retribution was an achievement. So weary was the country of the possibility of another disastrous turn of events.
On Indian television channels, though, there was plenty of heat and theater in debates. Voices of reason appeared to drown in high-pitched rhetoric from a handful of guests – socialites and self-styled commentators. They were in competition for space with politicians, academics and journalists of the more established ranks. Ex-model, now socialite and author, Shobha De, described as India’s answer to Jackie Collins, known for her erotic novels, lambasted politicians for ‘failures’ that led to the bloodbath. “Enough is enough,” she screamed. India’s leading English news channel, NDTV, responded by naming an entire episode ‘Enough is Enough’. Participants had a field day attacking the government and politicians in general. Those who begged that the fiery rhetoric be toned down had little chance of succeeding until the heat was exhausted. More