Wednesday, July 12, 2006

India’s Indestructible Heart

India’s Indestructible Heart - New York Times: "On March 12, 1993, at least 10 bombs shattered the spine of our city, then called Bombay, in two hours, tearing their way northward in short, deadly bursts. That attack left 257 dead. Since then, the city has been the target of several other vicious bombings, most recently in 2003, when car bombs went off at the city’s most recognizable symbol, the Gateway of India.

Moderate monsoon rains caused such enormous flooding that the whole city was shut down for three days. Those floods evoked memories of the cloudburst last July 26, when more than 400 people were drowned, electrocuted and crushed after their homes collapsed on top of them.

It was a tragedy that brought into focus how years of willful neglect and breathtaking corruption by municipal officials, working in tandem with avaricious politicians and real estate developers, have brought India’s financial capital to its knees.

Then, when the rain stopped last week, we found hooligans rampaging through our streets. As we settled down to brunch on Sunday, our TV sets brought us the chilling sight of buses being ransacked and burnt across Mumbai by cadres of the Hindu nativist Shiv Sena party. They claimed that a statue of their leader’s late wife had been vandalized, and they were protesting in the only way they knew how.

Soon after hearing about the blasts, I made my way to the local hospital to see if they needed blood donations. It had been less than an hour since the first explosion, but I’d been beaten to it by nearly 200 people."

Naresh Fernandes is the editor of Time Out Mumbai.

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