Monday, July 28, 2008

Blasts in Ahmedabad and Bangalore

Two successive days of chain bombings in metros across India has raised more than eyebrows. It is disturbing to see people all along the length and breadth of the social spectrum discussing the events and groping for answers. In most cases a dismissive wave of hand hides what now appears to be a previously unseen sense of vulnerability in the minds of the common man.

To Beat Terrorism, Smile!
For the aim of terrorists is to stop you from smiling. There is a lot to be gained for our enemies if we collectively stop smiling and start living in a state of constant anxiety. There will be social, economic and political ramifications.
Gone are the days of open wars and even the Low Intensity Conflicts. Now we are entering a phase in our existence where what we "feel" like is what is being targeted. Why do you want to fight a long drawn out, economically sapping war with a militarily strong (enough) country. Especially if you know that within a week the UN and the international community will step in.
So why dont you just "scare" the whole country????
Spread fear and insecurity that will ultimately influence every decision made by the people. Fewer people will send their sons to the services, distrust between religions, castes and communities will rise, economic burden of increased expenditure on the forces and policing, lesser investments in the country, more conservative developmental thrusts by the government.
If you observe, there has been a significant shift in the “bombing strategies” of terrorists. Single high intensity devices targeting key installations commonly in key metros or “symbolic” geographic regions has been replaced by the use of multiple low intensity devices targeting soft and “socio-economically” important targets like Bangalore (Bengaluru). Even the inputs used in the devices has downgraded from RDX/TNT/PETN mixtures to the use of commonly available inputs like Amonium Nitrate, fuel oil, urea etc.
Of course the increasingly difficult logistics for connecting sleeper cells across the subcontinent and the mere fact that the use of sophisticated materials would indicate sophisticated know how and thus the hand of “foreign” agencies; the terrorists have resorted to using smaller, less powerful devices on low value targets.

Now the main aim is not to maximize the impact of one device physically but to maximize the psychological, economic and political fallout of smaller blasts.
The “psychological” part is obvious. Strike deep seated fear and insecurity into the minds of common citizens in places otherwise perceived of as safe and you have a nation that is “afraid”.
Economic fallouts too are very simple to understand. Any single such incident, affects the market sentiments and thus the equity markets. This is especially true in India where institutional investors and FIIs account for the lion’s share of the market cap. Apart from that the global economy allows nations and companies to utilize the competitive advantages offered by nations and that is how they decide where to go. Most models of decision making for foreign investments take into account the social, political and security climate of the country. So why would any company invest in India when they can see the security situation worsening? Especially when they know the neighbours we have and the disagreements we have with our neighbours.
Politically, terrorists are exploiting the very basis on which the partition of India took place and the basis on which politics are conducted in India. It would be prejudicial and stereotypical to talk of only one religion when discussing terrorism especially when you consider that other religions too have displayed signs of intolerance. The blasts took place in BJP ruled states and the blasts in Gujarat started with blasts in Maninagar the constituency of CM, Mr. Narendra Modi. The political climate in India was already charged and polarized. The blasts have now added fuel to fire and has given the centre and the concerned states enough to lose sleep over and as we always do, bicker over who was wrong.

But. . . . . Smile to Beat Terrorism????
Yes. The aim of whoever was behind the blasts was to make you anxious, make you discuss this “scary” incident rather than your normal conversations, fill the airwaves with gruesome pictures of the dead and wounded.

No one is trying to win wars. They are trying to do what they do best. Make you scared. The common man can rarely do anything to stop them, but we can definitely deny them their goal of making us scared. So let us all smile and have a great time!!

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