Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai, Bombay, Mambai & Bambai

The original 7 islands inhabited by Kolis that became this city

Till 1996, we called this city what we wanted, we called it Bombay in English, Mumbai in Marathi, Mambai in Gujrati and Bambai in Hindi. Then divisive politics happened and the one and only exclusive name became Mumbai. Bombayites and Bambaiyas became Mumbaikars. If after that you dared call this city anything but Mumbai you risked the wraith of political goons assualting you, or attacking your house.

Why this divisive politics? What is the need for a divisive strategy? Does it win more votes? Is it the only way? What about an inclusive strategy? Why not have added the names Mumbai, Mambai and Bambai to the then official name Bombay? After all isn't dosen't our own country have 3 names: India, Hindustan, Bharat ? Germany has 2 names: Deutschland and Germany; Holland is called both Netherlands and Holland; and there are many more examples.

The names Bombay and Mumbai both have historic origins. Bombay comes from the Portuguese term Bombaim, which means Good Bay, which probably refers to the fantastic natural bay and shipping harbour, that lead to the establishment of the Bombay port, which was instrumental in giving birth to this essentially trading and shipping city. The word Mumbai, originates from the patron goddess, Mumba Devi, of the Kolis (the original inhabitants of this land before it became a city) where the word Devi translates into the word Ai, which means mother in Marathi.

So why can't we have 2 names or 4 names? Why can't we allow people to use whatever they are comfortable in using? Whatever suits them. Surely our heart is large enough, because we have an Indian heart, which is known to be especially large.

Now that the follies of our divisive methods, which pits man against man, are coming haunt us through terrible events, where the lives of innocents is being lost, let us roll back these silly divisive actions and thinking, because more than adding 3 names, it is a roll back in our divisive thinking to a purer thinking, where we are once again inclusive in our thinking.

Lets campaign for Inclusive thinking, starting with adding 3 names to the existing solitary name of this beautiful city with beautiful people.

Why is there no SAG permanently in Bombay?

The National Security Guard was established in 1985 after Operation Blue Thunder when the need for a dedicated anti-terrorism squad was felt. The NSG is a highly skilled, highly equipped and highly trained outfit of 14,500 commandos on deputation from the army, navy and air force.

The NSG has a dedicated counter terrorism and counter hostage wing known as the Special Action Group, SAG, which is tightly focused on rescue and counter attack in situations of terrorist and hostage situations.

The other wing of the NSG is known as the Special Rangers Group, SRG, whose job is to defend VVIPs (VV Important People/Places) from terrorism and other attacks and they can be seen guarding people such as the Prime Minister and important locations.

What struck me most about the terror attacks on Bombay that started 2 days back is that the Bombay Police where highly ill-equipped to handle terrorism. And ofcourse that is normal. A city's police force is raised to deal with crime and protection from anti-social elements, not high trained terrorists. One cannot expect a city's police force to have the budget, training and politics to be able to handle enemies who have been obviously trained to the standards of special forces.

The other thing that struck me was that the SAG had to be flown in from New Delhi to deal with the terrorists in Mumbai. By the time they left it was 1:30am (the crisis began at 9:30pm) and by the time they reached the airport and then onward onto the specific locations, it was already 6:00am. All the killing and hostage taking happened between 9:30pm and 6:00am! Infact as soon as SAG got in they started freeing the hostasges with the 1st batch being released at 6:30am.

So why does an important and venerable city like Bombay, the commercial capital, not have a SAG battalion based locally? why do they have to be flown in from Delhi?

Is it something to with politics? Yesterday the Chief Minister of Maharastra was quoted in the papers as saying that "we need to raise a force like SAG in Maharashtra" !!! Why???

I think it's the fault of disgusting politics and sheer Indian incompetence that there is no SAG unit in Bombay. In addition to the benefits of rapid response time, the team will be familiar with local establishments and terrain, making them that much more effective.

For the sake of nearly a 1000 people that lost their lives in Bombay and so that their sacrifices do not go in vain, let us be sensible and setup a SAG permanent unit in this great city.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Our Pledge Against These Cowardly Attacks

I hope you are safe and your resilience not too shaken by these shocking and distasteful events that are now ongoing for 48hrs in Mumbai.

These attacks by cowards on unarmed civilians at the leisure centers of our city, in the evenings when people were relaxing after working hard, and on those places which Indian & International company executives frequent, have been designed to disrupt Indian business activities and demoralize teams. They are meant to cast fear into the minds of foreign visitors and parents/families of our cities' workers. And they are meant to breed mistrust. They want us to abandon our work so that we as teams fail, so that investments into India stop, so that our growth fails, so that we descend into chaos.

Our response to these cowards will be that we will not fall for the fear that they are attempting to create. They do not realise that while we Indians may be an easy going, jovial people, we are not weaklings that will scare and run away. Our response will be that we will get back at these people by growing our country to great heights and making our country stronger. We will leave our opponents frustrated, not by attacking them in return, but by becoming successful and secure.

With several 100 dead and many more deeply wounded, this is also a time for deep reflection on the India that we are building and why we have been repeatedly subject to attacks, both from within and from external forces. For too long we have built a lawless India where the legal system is in shambles and people cannot get justice, breeding deep frustration; for too long we have built a corrupt India that robs efficiency, leading to unemployment and poverty; for too long we have built a greedy India with a great gap between the haves and have nots; for too long we have built a divisive India where we have divided up each other on the basis of caste, colour, state, wealth and religion; for too long we have built a disrespectful India where we do not value other people's opinions, always asserting ourselves; and for too long we have built an India befrit of teamwork, so that it becomes virtually impossible to get good results in anything, including basic security.

Some things thus that we must henceforth pledge:

  • we will never ever hinder or criticize any security measure or officer that is undertaken on the roads, malls, airports or offices. We will coorporate fully
  • we will not attack each other, verbally or physically, over any issue, big or small.
  • we will treat each others' point of view with immense respect and listen to it carefully
  • we will work hard, sincerely and with 200% honestly
  • we will strive to become more productive and increase our growth beyond even our own expectations
  • we will be united and work tightly as a team
  • we will spread the message of sincerity and teamwork wherever we go
  • we will never complain when we have to stand up for the national anthem, because the reason we stand is in respect for those who lost their lives defending India.
  • we will work hard to build the legal system
  • we will work hard to remove corruption from it's root
  • we will not divide people or get divided
I would like to take this moment to express my grief and sympathy for the families of the security officers and civilians who lost their lives and were injured. My heart goes out to these victims, these brave people and their grieving families. Let us become more dignified, better people and more productive so that their sacrifices are not in vain.