<b>Moodindigo:</b> Unity in adversity
Why do we wait for disaster to strike to bring out that innate goodness in us?
In the aftermath of the Manchester attack we are yet again inundated with the platitudes and denouncements which rim these atrocities. There are different emotions at play, sadness, anger, despair, helplessness and increasing murmurs of stoicism that extoll you to accept this as the new normal. Mumbai, Paris, Manchester, Dhaka, a growing list of terror attacks that aim to attack not only “infidels” but a way of life and in particular the young. The Manchester, Dhaka and Paris attacks specifically targeted the young involved in “sinful” activities as per this perverted ideology. And what were these sinful activities? Listening to music, a glass of wine at a street side café, an evening out in a western inspired bakery. Amongst many other things, these attacks are an assault on our way of life. There will be a lot of summations on “motivations”. But we all have grievances, these are in no way motivations for vile acts of terror and no amount of “analysis” can explain that away.
These attacks may seem distant but they are wake up calls to societies in the grips of this threat to recalibrate and question our own preparedness. During 26/11 we were all witness to the lethargic response of the government of the day in ensuring the NSG reached Mumbai in time. Are we better prepared today? Who keeps us informed and updated? What of our health facilities? One of the remarkable things about the Manchester attacks was the preparedness of the hospitals in the area, who had just undergone a drill to gauge their response in the event of a terror attack. That training came in handy, we saw that the death count contained at 22, the initial figure and medical attention being prompt for the many injured, most of whom were children. In New Delhi, the capital of this country, we saw how easily we were felled by the chikingunya and dengue epidemic last year. This collapse because of a vector disease that gestates and takes time to reach critical stage. There is no period of gestation when it comes to terror attacks.

Civil society kicked in as well, hotels and locals almost immediately started a hashtag on social media #RoomforManchester to offer free accommodation for the night. Whatever be the resources, a room, a bed, a couch, a cup of tea it was on offer to the people displaced by this violence. Taxi drivers ferried concert goers home, some as far away as 60 miles at no charge. We have seen this in our country as well during the Mumbai train blasts, when auto and taxi drivers carried the injured to hospitals. Humanity kicks in almost immediately. But when in “normal times” people don’t make way for ambulances, what will be the case in the event of a terror attack where immediate and lifesaving medical intervention will be needed?
Even the homeless outside the Manchester Arena jumped into the rescue, usually found in greater numbers outside the venue post a concert to beg for change, this time around they stepped in and helped cradle injured and traumatised children.
And then comes the other aspect, the platitudes of “we are united” — in the aftermath these are hollow words of consolation and cause more consternation than anything else. Hence it is important that we embrace these values in times when terror attacks are taking place elsewhere and not at home. This past week the shameful act of lynching in Jharkhand was passed off by some as a communal act in which Muslims were targeted to create a narrative against the government of the day. This was blatant agenda driven dishonesty and fear mongering, when the fact was that Hindus lost their lives in the same instance due to mob violence where there was a rumor of child lifting. What motivates this kind of narrative? It is a question we must ask. What it does however achieve is further fueling of feelings of insecurities. We must stand up against this and call it out, if we have to ensure a safe future for all citizens. This narrative building led to a riot like situation in Jharkhand the day after where places of worship were targeted in retaliation. Who gains from this? Petty political point scoring and irresponsible social media posts are enough to create immediate instances of violence but also lay the foundation for the future. This latest attack may have taken place on foreign shores but in it there are enough of lessons for everyone who wants to uphold our shared values and our joint destiny.
(Advaita Kala is a screenwriter and a columnist)
Advaita Kala