Friday, November 27, 2009

The spirit of Mumbai

'The spirit of Mumbai' has become a very 'nice sounding' phrase in recent times, particularly in the aftermath of 26/11.
When 26/11 happened, Mumbaikars came together, joined hands, lit candles, kept vigil around the key landmarks where the terror attacks happened, and voiced their opinion about the media, the politicians, the security forces and so on. According to them some of these agencies did a great job, whereas others let down the City.

Since then much has been discussed about the spirit of Mumbai and Mumbaikars in general. That they were united, they came together to express solidarity towards the victims and their families.

But hold on. Unity, the courage to come together in face of adversity and expressing solidarity is a matter of convenience - isn't it?

The point is, its all very nice to come together and talk about the nameless, faceless adversary, in this case the terrorist from Pakistan. Condemn him, hold candle light marches against him, write slogans and so on, and then go home in the evening with a good feeling that you did your bit.

Now let's talk about the enemy within.

The terrorists within India, and specifically the within Mumbai - our own desi brand of terrorists. M/S Bal Tahckery and Raj - the illustrious nephew of the illustrious uncle. Time and again, these two gentlemen and their group of goons - organised in the guise of political parties - the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, spread terror at will in the city of Mumbai.

They beat up non- Maharashtrians especially migrants from UP and Bihar threaten them and ask them to leave the City. Somewhere along the way they got the impression that Mumbai is their princely state, and they the rulers...

Another fine morning they choose to attack a large media house, beat up and threaten the staff, destroy property and generally create panic. The only difference between these two 'terrorists' and those that come from outside India, is that as of today the Thackerays cannot boast of a record of kills, and thankfully so.

The question that I want to ask the Mumbaikars is this - When the Thackerays spread terror in your City and in your hearts, where does the spirit of Mumbai go?

Now this is a different situation isn't it? Because the enemy is not hiding but right in front of you. And there's nothing you can do about this enemy except cow down to his threats, get intimidated and hide.

I don't blame the common Mumbaikar for being afraid of the Thackeray terrorism. After all, isn't the State administration and the police afraid of him? And the media? Why else didn't a single media publication or channel openly condemn a recent act of terrorism when a reputed TV channel was attacked by them in Mumbai?

Not one Mumbaikar or a newspaper or a TV channel came forward to express solidarity with this victim of violence. Where did the spirit of Mumbai suddenly disappear?

India's largest newspaper publication which is Mumbai bases, did not include even a small mention of the terror attack of Thackeray and his goons on the TV channel Office, the day after this incidence of violence happened.

Thackeray's goons created a ruckus in the State Assembly when a recently elected member took oath in Hindi. An act totally unlawful and unconstitutional by any standards. Not one Mumbaikar came forward to stage a protest, light a candle or lead a march.


When the pride of Mumbai (and indeed of India), Sachin Tendulkar was criticized and threatened by Bal Thackery simply because he stated that his Country came first for him and then his State, not one Mumbaikar came forward to express solidarity with Sachin. Not one Mumbaikar thought of leading a candle march at the Gateway of India as a sign of protest against this act of terrorism.


The answer is simple. When incidents like 26/11 happen, the terrorist is hiding. And when he hides we can come together and boldly say anything to him.
But here we have the terrorist standing right in front of us and glaring at us. And in this situation we are scared. And understandably the spirit of Mumbai suddenly dies out.

To be scared is human. Everyone knows that. But when the enemy within strikes, how you react or respond is the real test of the spirit of Mumbai.

Its high time you shed the hypocrisy- Mumbaikars.

Let us see this spirit of Mumbai re-kindled next time when your enemies - the terrorists like the Thackerays, terrorize you.

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