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December 04, 2008

An Anger to Emulate

Folks in Mumbai are righteously angry.  People are protesting the failures of the Indian government.   (See here and here.)  They are mourning the 173 dead in what some are calling India's 9/11, but they are also asking why the government wasn't able to stop it. 

“We’ve come to show our solidarity against the apathy of the government and we want the government to change and be proactive and not lazy,” said Abiti Phoksey, a 64-year-old woman who runs an upholstery business. “They have a duty towards the nation,” she added.

Their anger is focused on the government's ineptitude and it is having consequences.  India's Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, resigned early on.  Both the Deputy Chief Minister and the Chief Minister of the state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the main city, were forced to step down in the last day. 

Some politicians get it.  The mayor of the city asked the people to voice their concerns. 

The anger is fueled by a series of revelations that India was warned about a possible terror strike on Mumbai by sea several months ago.  The anger highlights the split between the new, highly educated and technically savvy folks, concentrated in Mumbai as it happens, and the old lumbering, bureaucratic institutions of government.  The obvious governmental failures in this critical national security area is likely to have significant repercussions in how India functions.

So, I'm jealous.  I think we have something to learn.   Why didn't New Yorkers force Rudy Giuliani to quit when it became clear that he was responsible for the death of hundreds of firefighters and police who didn't have up-to-date communications equipment?  Why didn't we rise up (in larger numbers) when President Bush turned his attention to Iraq when he should have been concentrating on Tora Bora and on assisting the moderates in the Arab world to bring their radicals back into the fold?

Partly, it's the timing.  The rallies in Mumbai were organized by text message.  The workers of Mumbai have now had a few years of living with streamlined ways of working.  I'm basically convinced that the Internet would now prevent a war like Iraq from happening here.  And, of course, we managed to elect Barack Obama, a clear win for the more democratic and tech savvy amongst us.

Nevertheless, I think there is a lot to be learned from watching that raw righteous anger, unprotected by the institutional forces of savvy politicians and complicit media.    

Posted by Lynn Allen on December 4, 2008 at 06:18 AM in National and International Politics, Taking Action | Permalink


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