ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Capitalising on Calamity: 26/11 and Jingoist Politics

The multiple terror attacks episode in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 revealed the incompetence of the security agencies, evoked frenzied coverage by an elitist media and brought to the fore a jingoism that was milked by an opportunist polity. The first anniversary of the attacks brought forth more of the same.

The so-called “war on terror” and George W Bush’s infamous “binary” statement that “if you are not with us, you are with them” completely deflected many issues that the act of terror on 11 September 2001 (termed 9/11) in New York and other places in the US had thrown up.

The hype around the attacks on Mumbai on 26 November 2008 (the 26/11 incident, as it has come to be called) succeeded in covering up the ineptitude of governance and instead provided excellent means for our political class to deepen its jingoism in politics. Calamity, it definitely was, but not necessarily the worst one, either in terms of loss of life or potential damage, and yet the incidents were projected as a war on our nationhood. A lthough India could not replicate the US response to 9/11 with its own mini war of terror by attacking Pakistan, which at one time seemed very imminent but may have been thwarted by the imperative of the US-led war in Pakistan and Afghanistan, a tacit binary was established which effectively blocked legitimate questions around the incident. The jingoistic hype duly helped by the media reached its crescendo on its first anniversary. While one would expect the nation to come to its senses after the heat of the incident had come down and to ponder over the real questions the incident raised, it was not to be.

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