26th July 2005 is a day that is etched in the memory of our city forever. Mumbai — the city of dreams and the city of gold — came to a standstill. For the first time in the history of this legendary city, a deluge so devastating swept across its every corner and lashed out a fury that nobody had ever witnessed before.
It’s been five years since, and I still have questions. What went wrong? Have we rectified it? Can it happen again? If you ask public information channels, you’ll get the answer for question one in terms of the quantity of rain, inability to cope with this unheard-of rain fury etc. But when I pose the other two questions before someone or myself, I am left with nothing but a blank.
As the city bounced back, one key aspect came to the fore — the iconic, indomitable spirit of Mumbai. Most of us realised that our need for survival governs our spirit. An average Mumbaikar needs to wake up every morning and go to work so that he can survive. He is not thinking of his power of withstanding, but of the daily wages he needs to earn to feed his family. Most people mistake the spirit of this city as an attitudinal outcome rather than an instinctive need. The big question still remains — have we rectified the issues that arose so as to avoid its repetition? The answer is, no.
Mumbai has braved terrorist attacks, floods and inflation not because of its resilience, but for our inability to change and make a difference. We have forgotten that the change first needs to come about within. We get back to our routine so easily that it never results in action. What went wrong? Would the deluge attain the magnitude it did, if the drains weren’t blocked by plastic bags we used and threw out of the window? A lot of what happens on the outside has first happened at a miniature level inside of us. If there is turmoil within you, it is bound to reflect outside. The change must come from within.
I take responsibility for my city being under siege, and vow to make a difference. Do you?