Monthly Archives: July 2011

‘No choice’ does not equal ‘Spirit of Mumbai’

mumbai attacksYou know why we all cringe when we hear a cliche? It’s because using a cliche usually represents the forcible application of a generalization or stereotype to a complex situation.

So here is India’s most cringe-worthy cliche – The spirit of Mumbai.

This concept, screamed up to the heavens by nearly all media houses and TV news anchors, has lost its sheen. It is beginning to resemble some sort of creepy badge that is affixed to those unfortunate innocents who suffer a terrorist attack, whether they want it or not. And it really needs to end immediately.

I have friends and family in Mumbai. I don’t want them to be ‘proud, defiant and bold’, stepping out of their homes the very next day after a terrorist attack to go back to school/college/work etc in the ‘spirit of Mumbai’.

I think I would just prefer them to be safe and not have to live in fear.

For the lakhs of daily wage earners in the city it’s either work or starve – a stark choice that does not allow for any leeway.

It’s not like being in the middle of the blasts is like being at a concert or an anti-corruption fast where participation in the event announces its success.

They are not asked for permission before they are attacked. And the next day, they have go to work -whether they really want to or not. Mumbaikars have to get on with their lives and they have no choice in the matter.

Equally grating is the coverage of the event. There is jazzy new-age music played over cuts of bloody bodies, flaming ruins and charred buildings. Loud roll-overs announce the death toll, snappy sound bytes intersperse the images before they cut to news anchors who, literally, scream out the news in lung-wrenching gusto with one adjective every three words on average.

Is it too much to ask that the news be covered in a simple sombre manner which reflects the fact that 17 innocents have been murdered? Is it too much to ask that information is put out without resorting to conspiracy theories, blame-games or even self-congratulatory phrases? And does anyone really care what unique angle each channel takes to cover the event? Just give us the facts and we will appreciate it.

Meanwhile once again we wait to see if we can figure out who committed the attack and make our feeble attempts to catch those responsible.

But those in Mumbai don’t seem optimistic on that outcome.

Vinayak Hegde