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The price of terror

india Updated: May 15, 2008 21:48 IST

Hindustan Times
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The Jaipur serial bombings have extracted a huge price in terms of the number of innocent lives lost or injured. Terrorists deliberately choose such soft targets whenever and wherever they strike. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has rightly pointed out that “we cannot anticipate everything”, as the perpetrators of such heinous acts often use the element of surprise in carrying out their designs. But there certainly appears to be a design of sorts in their selection of a ‘happening state’ like Rajasthan. For one, Rajasthan is making rapid strides in the sphere of development and graduating out of the ranks of the Bihar-Madhya Pradesh-Rajasthan-Uttar Pradesh — Bimaru — states that are another word for extreme backwardness in socio-economic development.

The Jaipur blasts were definitely intended to destabilise an important industry in Rajasthan — notably, tourism. It is difficult to put a precise number on the economic costs involved due to the blasts. But the day after the incident, the impact is surely being felt. Cancellations are beginning to pour in, with the Rajasthan Tourism office reporting 100 per cent cancellations. Hapless tourists stuck in Jaipur have no option but to stay in their rooms rather than venture out. Seminars and conventions are being postponed till the situation stabilises. If the hospitality business is initially hit, industry and trade that depend on tourism will also feel the effects of the blasts. These developments have powerful multiplier effects that can lower revenues from tourism.

Take a look at some of the other targets chosen by terrorists in recent years. Economic factors clearly have been in command as they chose stock exchanges and IT bastions as targets for their bombing runs. Mumbai was evidently chosen to bring the financial capital to its knees. They have subsequently fanned out down south to the cyber cities of Hyderabad and Bengaluru. Even if they planted their bombs in places of worship to disturb communal harmony, there are no prizes for guessing that they wanted to cripple business as usual in these cities. At a time when India’s services-driven economy is booming, there is a huge economic price to pay when terror stalks cities where financial services, software and IT and tourism are important.