Nero was fiddling when Rome was burning. Nero’s high living alienated citizens and senators alike, and he was forced to commit suicide. Will any Indian leader (unlike in Italy & Japan) commit suicide. Remember Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka-san who hanged himself last year. In India farmers commit suicide, not politicians.cialis These days they don’t even vacate their seats of power.
I am considerably relieved to be back home in Delhi and be with my family. I was in Mumbai on the 26/11 and was staying at the Taj, luckily at the Taj Lands End Hotel in Bandra, a Taj property.
Attending the Ernst & Young’s spectacular 10th Entrepreneur of The Year Awards ceremony at the lawns of the Taj Lands and chewing the cud with a bit of nostalgia, little did I or for that matter anyone of us at the event know that the Taj Mahal Hotel & the Trident Oberoi Hotels were under a terrorist attack. And other vulnerable spots were also simultaneously targeted and assaulted.
There was not a clue to anyone there that a terrible tragedy was unfolding in the South of Mumbai and that Mr. Oberoi’s marquee hotel was seized by the terrorists. The Taj Lands End staff also did not know that their colleagues were being gunned down by ruthless criminals. The reality of situation unfolded when we went to our rooms and watched the 9/11 of India on the TV. That night I did not sleep and was constantly switching my attention from the television to the glass window overlooking the sea to look for any boat that was getting closer to this hotel
Today morning (27th) as I checked out of the hotel, I met my friend Riz Khan (former BBC and CNN journalist)who was moving into ground zero to report for Al Jazeera English. He was the anchor for the previous night’s event I spoke to my friend Govind Raj Ethiraj (now Editor in Chief UTVi) (who was in ground zero) to confirm that he is safe. I then understood why he could not turn up for this morning’s breakfast with me. I managed to reach the airport to take a Kingfisher flight that left for Delhi on time. I am one of the lucky ones who did not stay or dine at either the Taj or the Oberoi that night. As they uncover the identity of the ones who did not make it, I hope and pray that their kith and kin have the strength to bear the loss.
As if the financial tragedy through which we are scraping through is not enough, this terrorist attack that brought our Army, Navy, Police & the National Security Guard (a federal contingency force) to the heart of Mumbai,to the very nerve centre of our financial capital, to the central business district of Mumbai is a greater tragedy. This is warfare of a different kind altogether. It is a matter of grave concern that brave police officers – Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar were killed while performing their duties. We also watched with pride the heroic acts of rescue, care, sense of duty, responsibility and restraint by the professional men of our Police, Army, Navy & the NSG. I salute them and commend all those young journalists who risked their lives to report live on the unfolding events so that we all could see what was really going on. But there is a lurking fear in me that perhaps we are not yet fully equipped to deal with this kind of urban warfare. Some experts tell me that the technology, the techniques & the tactics used to deal with these kinds of attacks were perhaps missing in this operation.
We are a nation that is reactive. We haven’t learnt any lessons from the series of attacks in Mumbai. When the Parliament was attacked, the political leaders united to fortify their own security. Did the government ( whichever party it may be) and their chosen people who are entrusted with the duty and responsibility to run our intelligence deliver ? Should old retired men like Mr. M.K.Narayanan be the National Security Advisor ? What is the job description for this position? Just take a look at the range of issues he has covered in a recent interview with The Straits Times India Bureau Chief. It must worry you as much as it does worry me that he is an expert on both internal & external security.
It is once again a stronger proof that we have incompetent and irresponsible people who are entrusted with the job of running our country. To add insult to injury, we have some political leaders behaving in an ugly and reprehensible manner. These men made an ass of themselves in front of millions of people all over the world.
While the blame game will go around and politicians will get all the flak, it is also very sad that highly respected corporate houses that run huge hotels do not have the rudimentary risk management systems in place. How could these criminals get into their premises with so much ammunition? These corporate leaders may have a lot to explain as to how they allowed their weak internal security systems to jeopardise the lives of innocent people and hold the whole nation to ransom. When guests pay $300 upwards for a room night and the restaurants charge ten times the price for food, they also buy safety and security. I will not be surprised if these hotels are legally made accountable for the serious lapses and be even sued for damages by customers or their relatives.