Mumbai terrorist attacks

What lessons can we learn?

Today, the kids and I spent the afternoon at the park and then went out for dinner in the center of town.  All seems normal.  Indeed, it was very pleasant to watch so many families out to enjoy the playground, with dozens of children running, swinging, and climbing, eating ice cream and popcorn. 

And yet, as we waited for a table in the restaurant, the television shows nonstop news coverage of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, 1,000 km from here [Location].  Although Bangalore seems to be going about its business, in talking with people it is clear that many are shaken.  Despite the fact that terrorist attacks are all too common here – something like six attacks in the past six months, in various parts of the country including Bangalore – the nature of this one was different.  One IT executive who has lived here for 10 years told me that this was the first time he was scared… in large part because this time they weren’t just placing a bomb and then running away, but because they were brazenly and openly attacking people.

Photo by Arko Datta/Reuters – snipped from the New York Times.

The media attention also made a big difference. This incident played out live on television, over three days, and that has a significant impact on people. The psychological effect, which of course is the whole point of terrorism, is amplified by the media. 

It remains to be seen how things will change as a result of this incident.  There are elections coming in a few weeks, and the politicians are already making terrorism a major election issue.  I’m hoping that they can all learn a lesson from watching the families at the playground today.  Muslim families, Christian families, Hindu families.  One little girl – a Hindu – was helped onto the swing by another girl’s mother – a Muslim. This is India.

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2020, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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