Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 and after: Whither India?

Today, it’s exactly two years since this blog began. One point in the first post here was how US President George Bush had, in a way, joined the war against terror which other countries were already waging, though he was calling upon other countries to join him.

Immediately after 9/11, there was a lament, quite justifiably, that had the US been perceptive to small-scale terror in different parts of the globe, we all would probably not have reached this stage. Remember, how Kandahar hijack was no issue for the US, which for whatever reason showed no signs of having seen the growing trouble.

But five years on, my views have amended. Laments make no sense. It’s time to learn a few lessons; from the US. Not from the war in Iraq; but from how that nation has transformed itself post-9/11.

One deadly sting, the whole system was shaken up. Top administration officials were intensely questioned. There have been debates, discussions, and brain-storming sessions. Most importantly, the administration implemented corrective steps.

Contrast that with India. Soon after 9/11, India implicitly told the US, “Look, we have been here long before, you have just woken up.” True, terrorism is nothing new to India, unlike the US; but five years on, who has moved ahead – India or the US?

How many terror attacks have taken place in the US after 9/11? And, in India? The answers speak volumes.

May be the number of US soldiers killed in the post-9/11 wars is now almost equal to the number of Americans who perished on that tragic day. But the country has been well-secured, at least in comparison to India.

Probably the only significant change here is that: incidents which were categorised as “communal” are now “terrorist”, rightly or wrongly. Malegaon is the latest example. Still, there is no change on the ground.


  1. Was listening to NPR while driving to work. Scores of people were calling in to talk about 9/11. Most of them were of the opinion that President Bush's intent was right but his actions were a big let down. Many were worried that instead of securing the country, all the war in Afghanistan and Iraq has done is add fuel to the fire and make way for more easy recruits for the terrorists.

    I have to agree with that assessment.

    As for whether India is more or less secure, I have no answer.

  2. Here are comments people left on the NYTimes blog about the failed response to 9/11. It is worth reading

  3. Ullas,
    Indeed, I don't think there are two opinions about Bush's objective. But it's the methodology that's being questioned. There has to be a radical shift in US outlook; how best they can do it is what is pertinent.

  4. I found your blog post while looking for something on 9.11. Being an American, I can say that my country has changed hell of a lot since that day. Knowing India too (not so very well, though) over the past 6 or 7 years, I don't know if it'll be an accurate description if one were to compare India and the US, as I understand you have done in your writing. The sort of violence India has been seeing for over very many years, America hasn't seen during the same period of time. What you commonly call communal violence, I understand. So, suddenly I don't know how you can suddenly compare the two countries just for the post 9.11 period. That the issue is very new to America has given it an advantage over India to tackle terrorism. In comparison, India, I assume, has a much larger and much complicated baggage of the past to deal with. I don't know if my perception is right.

  5. Rita,
    The terrorist threat that US faces is communal or rather religios in nature.

    The communal violence that Indians often refer to is between Hindus and Muslims.

    9/11 is a result of Islamic fundamentalists hating Western world and through it indirectly Christians and Jews.

    There is nothing different about it. Just that America and Americans have to stop putting themselves as being above/beyond or detached from the rest of the world.

    In an increasing flat world, everyone is quickly becoming equal if not in wealth then in facing fear.

  6. Rita,
    Thank you very much for the comment. Your comment has rather confused me now.Yes, it is a fact that 9/11 was the first major terror attack in the US, while India has been having it for quite some time.

    But the Pakistan factor is common. The US should have recognised that long back. They thought it's mearly a Indo-Pak issue over Kashmir, without realising that Kashmir is only symbolic representation of a larger issue. Now, this point is becoming increasingly clear; that be it Lebanon, Iraq, Kashmir, London or Bali or Mumbai... it is all one and the same.

    Somehow I just can't get over this feeling that US was so blind to this fact, until the 9/11 happened. They just dismissed Kashmir and Middle East problems as regional ones, whereas, it was just beginning of a global problem. I only hope the US is able to see much clearer now.

  7. I agree. It's all got to do with the basics of Indian thought process. Bombs and blasts are almost made part and parcel of life.

  8. Soniyaji Gandhi need to appease her vote bank. So there will be bomb blasts to keep things exiting. That is not an issue for George Onakkoor Bush. BTW pl see to the interview with Richard Armitage. Fun stuff !

  9. This is all a big gimmick and need to be seen as such and no more. Or else which sane nation would capitalise on a calamity of the sort of 9.11. If that was so India or for that matter every other country would have, not to leave out Afghanistan and Iraq, a gr8 calamity or rather calamities to celebrate (one just wonders whether it isn't celebration). Proclamation of kinds to honour the dead, buliding a memorial et al. and it's now over 5 years. We would have, in India, criticised the govt for inaction at least through the media and the oppostion in the parliament. One starts wondering whether the Americans really mean what they say when they say they care for their citizens. First and foremost we need to acknowledge that the acts like that of 9.11 are results of the attemt to do international policing by the American govts. If such calamities needs to be averted they need to profess a peaceful world and not a world which they will boss over and dictate. Leave others to do waht they wish to do, live the way they want to. If we examine the history of Iraq we would know that they were a prosperous nation before the failed invasion of Kuwait and it was only because of the sactions by US and UN that their progress was halted. So who is to be blamed for the present plight of Iraq, Saddam or US? Same is the case of Afghanistan, in the name of opposing the Russians US armed the rebels and made them fight the Russians, again international policing (it was covert as they were against a stronger opponent, guerilla warfare?) Seems I need to go to my blog to xpress ally opinion. The best way to get along is to forget hte calmity and become sensible. So advise to all US citizens, natural or naturalised, advice your government to stop interfering or is it called poking into others business and control their own affairs better and not leave their dear sons to fight in alien land, to be buthcered and then declared martyrs..

  10. Suresh,

    What's most difficult to stand is America's unilateralism. You can't be global player and arrogate everything to oneself. Their policy of "It's okay for US, but not for you", is the most irritating.