Mumbaiites rage after the storm, but is anybody listening? | india | Hindustan Times
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Mumbaiites rage after the storm, but is anybody listening?

india Updated: Dec 01, 2008 00:32 IST
Kiran Wadhwa

At Marine Drive, over 2,000 people gathered carrying angry placards saying ‘Am I going to die next?’ and ‘I want to vote but is there a deserving candidate?’

At Hanging Gardens on Malabar Hill, over 50 women gathered to read the Hanuman Chalisa to pray for the safety of our country.

An SMS asking people to gather outside gateway of India on December 3 to demand for their right to safety is doing the rounds.

College students are collecting old t-shirts to hand paint them with slogans like ‘Need repair, we’ve screwed up’

After watching Mumbai being taken hostage for over 60 hours, the city stepped onto the streets and reacted with outrage, hope and frustration. Across the city, strangers came together to demand for safety, pray for victims and hail the commandos.

“I’m so angry. I’ve been stuck at home for three days knowing that people I know were stuck inside the hotels. Is this the price we have to pay to get politicians to listen to us? Is the home minister’s resignation enough? It seems more like a political move to me,” said theatre actress Amrita Puri.

But will all these candlelight marches and angry protests result in anything?

Sociologist Gita Chhadha, who organised a candlelight vigil in her society at the TIFR compound, said such community initiatives show the beginning of a social change. The candlelight vigil that was meant for children ended up having about 150 people including top scientists lighting candles of hope. “In a society of scientists, things like this are usually seen as tokenism so the turnout was surprising. The collective can harness energy that might become the foundation for a larger social movement,” she said.

But there are also those who believe that these gestures eventually bear no fruit. “People will be upset for a few days and then move on. Now, we need to be more pragmatic than symbolic,” said sociologist Nandini Sardesai. “There are more constructive ways like filing a PIL, using RTI or starting a fund for police personnel who died.”

Social networking sites and SMSes have helped spread the message fast. For example, Sejal Modi and Sapna Sahani wanted to organise a candlelight march at Carter Road and put up a message for their 100 Facebook friends, but over 300 people came for the march. “We created a Facebook page for people to attend the vigil at Carter Road under the banner of ‘I Care’ and the response was far larger than we expected,” said Modi.

(With inputs from Purva Mehra and Riddhi Shah)