26/11: One Year Later

A year ago, millions of lives changed. Terrorists attacked our beloved Mumbai, and kept our fellow countrymen hostage for over three days. Most of us sat glued to our television screens praying and wishing that it would all be over soon. After the attacks were over and life had resumed to some degree of normalcy, there was a spurt of reactions from the people and especially the youth. A lot was said about the ‘spirit of the Mumbaikar’ and the resilient nature of the city. In fact, after a few days the word ‘resilient’ became used so expansively that it sickened one to hear it in the same sentence as Mumbai. Yes, the spirit of Mumbai is such that we have picked up the pieces of our lives and moved on. Yes, we are resilient and we do have the ability to bounce back. But for how long? How long until in Yeats’ words “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosened upon the world.” Surely we have not been de-sensitized enough to just turn a blind eye to the gruesome events happening all around us. Yet.

Exactly a year later, where do we stand? How much have we done to ensure that we are not at the mercy of terrorists ever again? Have we questioned those in positions of responsibility as to what they are doing to assure us of our safety? This time around we received a jolt that shook us out of our reverie and we realized what a huge impact these attacks had on us. But what is shocking is that it took an attack of this magnitude to elicit a response from us, the citizens. A response which initially showed great promise but soon died a quick and quiet death.

One year down the line we clearly haven’t reached any conclusions as to what we can/should do. We are back to square one. All those candle marches and protest rallies proved to be pointless. The whole purpose of uniting people was completely defeated because one year later we are still fighting over the Marathi manoos issue. Post 26/11 a lot of emphasis was laid on voting and making the right choice. But not many of us bothered to vote or even register ourselves as voters. Mumbai had a dismal voter turn-out of 42% in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. It is a shame for all of us Mumbaikars that when given the opportunity we did not use it to the fullest.

All of us find it very easy to criticize the government and demand a change. But what we don’t realize is that WE have to be the change we want to see. If we do not set in motion change, it may never happen. As the youth of the country, this is our moment to rise and shine and prove to the world that we are a force to reckon with and cannot be dismissed as easily. We have to take that one step forward if want to progress as a nation. The practice of ‘Responsible Citizenship’ would be a good start. In the words of Captain Planet, “The power is YOURS!”

Jumana Dohadwala

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sirwatkyn/3100025436/]