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New Delhi Bomb Blast : 7 September 2011 (a.k.a. 7/9)

Article first published as Delhi Bomb Blast on Technorati.

Life is cheap in India. Deaths from myriad random and unnatural causes are all too commonplace.

Nobody will really be able to give an accurate count of the number of terrorist attacks that have happened over the past few years.

It's fashionable to compare any and all terrorist attacks to the gold standard christened as 9/11. There is no ambiguity about what event it refers to.

But when attacks become all too commonplace, it's a bit tiring to come up with numerical shortcuts to refer to them. Should today's attack be called 7/9? The Mumbai attacks (not 26/11) on the suburban train system is already barely there in the faintest storehouse of our memory bank. The attacks on some crowded markets in Delhi around Diwali time is also but a mere part of the white noise background of my/our subconscious.

At least in New York City, they are coming up with a permanent memorial that will have the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died that day.

In India, there are hardly any permanent memorials of that kind. Life is surely cheap in India.

Will we ever even get to know the names of the 11 individuals who perished today near the Delhi High Court?

I hope the news media will bother to investigate the human stories behind the dead. Did those individuals have any premonitions that this day was going to be the last day of their existence in this universe?

In India, people have a lot of faith in gods and religion. When people start on any important journey, they do not forget to seek the blessings of whatever gods they believe in and whose photographs they tend to keep in their homes in some special place.

Clearly, god failed to protect them this day. Many families must have been permanently devastated today. But even this will be sought to be explained away in religious terms by appealing to the mysterious ways of god.

Hardly anyone will be persuaded to change their religious beliefs in fundamental ways. But if anyone really bothers to reflect about random occurrences of death such as these blasts, there's but one conclusion to reach -- there can not be a benevolent planner behind these events.

It's however surely too much to expect such fundamental shifts in mindsets in Indians. They are mostly illiterate or semi-literate. Their circle of sympathy extends only to their kith and kin. They are mostly untouched by tragedy visiting unknown families.

We are all selfish. I do not know if that's an evolutionary trait that helps us survive. Non-Indians (people in the developed nations of America or Europe) will care little for tragedies visiting poor Indians. We in India are hardly touched by the frequent occurrences of bomb blasts in Iraq and Pakistan.

The benighted citizenry of Africa can hardly be faulted if they are left equally unimpressed by Indian tragedies.

What changed because of 9/11? Statecraft, policies, geopolitics, strategic affairs, war doctrines, etc. Did people change? I do not think any society changed in deep manner. No society became permanently more kinder, gentler, more giving because of 9/11. No society rejected the concept of god as because it finally realized that 9/11 conclusively proved that such concepts are crazy, childish notions.

We seem to have a capacity to fall back into old habits, familiar ways of thinking, our own parochial and tribal mindsets and affiliations and beliefs. We seem to have an immense capacity to consume trivia and dross.

This is not a manifesto written in anger. It's merely a statement of fact.

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