Dec 4 2008

Terrorist attacks shake India

By Dan Pearson, CFCA International Project Director

The mood is tense in India after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.†India is no stranger to terrorist attacks.†One of the parks in Hyderabad where my kids like to play was the location of a terrorist bombing last year.†But the nature of the attacks in Mumbai seems to have affected people here more profoundly than any previous act of terrorism.†

I have been living in the city of Hyderabad, but I was in Delhi the night that the attacks in Mumbai began.†I had spent the day in a nearby town, and my train arrived back in Delhi after 10 p.m.†The reports of the attacks were just beginning at that time, but I didnít hear any news when I arrived at the train station.†I turned on the TV when I got back to my hotel to see why the streets of Delhi were so quiet, and thatís when I learned what was happening in Mumbai.†I called my wife to assure her that I was all right.†I watched the news coverage for several hours that first night, shocked at the extent of the attacks and wondering how the country would react.

I was scheduled to fly back to Hyderabad the next morning.†The drive to the airport was much faster than usual because the traffic was so light.†It appeared that many people decided to stay home that first morning until the scope of the attacks became clearer.†Elections were scheduled in Delhi in a couple of days, and there was speculation that Delhi might also be a target.

Life was pretty normal back in Hyderabad.†But conversations seemed to find their way to discussion of the terrorist attacks.†People wondered why it was taking so long for the army to capture the terrorists and liberate the hostages.†They complained that they werenít more prepared.†They speculated on which cities might be targeted next.†We checked the news several times a day.†Each time we thought we would see that it was all over.†But the crisis refused to end.†

The Indians I have talked with clearly feel less safe than they did a couple of weeks ago.†The brazenness of these attacks and the duration of the standoff have taken a heavy toll on the sense of security.†India has made significant economic progress in recent years, and even a visitor like me can sense a growing confidence among Indians about their country and their future.†These attacks seem to have shaken that confidence, at least for the moment.

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