As I play the incidents of the weekend gone by into my head one more time, the bitterness inside finally starts moving from vague and diffused to focused and specific. Even though I have not lost anyone I personally knew in any of the terror attacks I have this lump inside me made of sorrow, bitterness, anguish, fear and guilt. I feel that the people who should be actually held responsible for this accident are not the politicians or government, or for that matter, even the terrorists who carried out the attack. The real culprits of this attack - who have allowed an incident so painful to take place, who have scarred the collective memory of this country forever, who have shaken the very faith of humanity in the fundamental principles of unity and brotherhood are, unfortunately but truly, WE - The People.
We are responsible because we allow the wrong, undeserving, unqualified people to contest elections, to control high offices, and to decide our fate. We are responsible for encouraging a complete destruction of the moral fabric of humanity by our utter indifference. We are responsible for everything that is wrong with us today because WE HAVE CHOSEN TO BURY OUR FACES IN SAND. We have lost our friends, relatives, colleagues in these terror attacks because when someone of us wanted to join politics, we insisted he became a businessman. When someone wanted to be a soldier, we preferred he became an engineer. We are responsible because it does not matter to us who is dying outside as long as we are safe inside. It never occurs to us that if it was them today, it could be us tomorrow.
We are not safe in our malls, parks, buses, trains, airports, railway stations, five-star hotels, cars. We don't know when our children leave for school if we'll ever see them again. We don't know if our loved ones will get back home alive when they leave for work. And the saddest part of this whole situation is that we expect the government and police to protect our families. The official list of people who lost their lives in the Mumbai carnage stands at 178. Even though this number is debatable, each of these people meant the world to someone. Let's just imagine that one of these was someone we knew. Would we still expect the government to "do something" to save them? Let's imagine that our our house caught fire. Would we still wait for the government and the system to do something?
The problem our country faces is not bad governance or poor security, the real problem of this country is the attitude of its citizens. We, despite being first the citizens of this country, are anything and everything before being an Indian. We belong to our caste, community and state so much that we do not belong to India anymore. It's only when an incident like this takes place that a lot of song-and-dance is made about national issues. Once the dust settles, we move back to the apparently more critical issues of who should be allowed inside Mumbai and who should be included in the national cricket team. We are never bothered about how to ensure that the right candidates get to contest elections safely. We don't care if millions of children have to quit education and start working before they turn fifteen as long as our child talks in English. We never check what's under our seats in a multiplex as long as the movie has two item numbers. In fact we, as it appears, would rather be entertained than protected.
It's through this apathy towards the world that we provide wrong elements the motivation, means and support needed to perform an attack on the parliament, on hotels, in trains and ... on our conscience. The greatest strength of our country is not our military capability or our economic robustness. The greatest strength are We - The People. And if we need to ensure a better tomorrow, or rather a tomorrow at all for our coming generations, it is we, as a nation that has to wake up. The government and the forces, even if they try and do the best they can, will not be able to do anything unless the citizen of this country is awake and vigilant. And, on the other hand, if every citizen of this country, in his or her limited capacity, does his bit to ensure that his surroundings are safe, I don't see how an attack as audacious as 26/11 can ever be repeated on Indian soil. It's about time that we stopped expecting others to solve issues that we can look after better ourselves.
Let's all take a pledge today. Let's pledge that we will encourage only the right and deserving candidates to occupy offices of power. Let's pledge that we will ensure that proper security checks are conducted at places which can be attacked. Let's pledge that we will keep our eyes and ears open at all times. Let's pledge to come forward and contribute physically, mentally and financially to keep our country safe.
Remember, an attack on Indian soil, is an attack on your home.