The Revenge of the Near

By Khilnani, Sunil | Newsweek International, February 9, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Revenge of the Near


Khilnani, Sunil, Newsweek International


The 11/26 attack on India was no 9/11--and India's reaction must also be different from America's.

Urban Indians love the idea of a global, borderless world, where flows of trade and services trace virtual geographies. Who can blame them? Colonial mapmaking left India broken and flanked by two unviable, antagonistic states: Pakistan and Bangladesh. Also in the neighborhood are despotic Burma, precarious Afghanistan and war-torn Sri Lanka. It's enough to make anyone search for an escape.

Before the Mumbai attacks, that escape seemed possible. India's elites believed that free-market economics and an international outlook would let them transcend location, poverty and intractable politics. In recent years, India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, had made this approach the core of his policies. The Singh doctrine, as it might be called, was one of nonconfrontational economic diplomacy, seeking to expand India's global connections in order to spur growth and personal affluence, which in turn would defuse internal and external conflicts.

The effort seemed to work, at least for a time. After charting around 8 percent annual growth for the last five years, last fall India became the first postcolonial state to successfully complete a moon mission. And in October, after signing an agreement with Washington, New Delhi gained admission into the world's most powerful club: that of legitimate nuclear powers.

Then came the terrorist attack that began in Mumbai on the night of Nov. 26, literally and metaphorically targeting the five-star oases where the rich network and relax. The men who arrived in India's most global city from Pakistan aboard rubber boats represented, among other things, a revenge of the near. Within hours, they revealed that India's dream of escape might be a delusion. Actual location, it turns out, still matters more than the virtual one. There are limits to economic diplomacy--and India's security will depend on recognizing them.

Halfway through the siege of the Taj and Oberoi hotels and of the Jewish Centre at Nariman House, one major TV station began headlining its reports with the phrase "India's 9/11." But the analogy didn't hold. There were some similarities--the targets were iconic buildings and the attacks captivated world attention--but the comparison oversimplified a situation whose implications are potentially much more threatening for India than those faced by the United States. September 11 was an attack by men from afar, whose message had little resonance with Americans. The Mumbai attackers came from next door, the world's largest Islamic republic and the chief global exporter of radical Islam, and they arrived in a country with just as many Muslims of its own.

The Mumbai attacks were less like 9/11 than like a man-made Katrina: a calamity preceded by many warnings (among them bombings last year in several cities) and followed by government bungling. At the time of the attacks, many Mumbai police were armed only with bamboo sticks. Of those who had guns, many didn't know how to fire them. Commandos had to be called in from the north, since none were stationed in India's financial capital.

The failure of so many public-sector agencies provoked little surprise in Mumbai's poorer quarters, where residents are well acquainted with government shortcomings. But urban elites sputtered with outrage. Though some of this was directed toward Pakistan, most of it was aimed inward. Imagine if after 9/11, New Yorkers had taken to the streets to protest against firefighters and Rudy Giuliani, and you get a sense of what this felt like. Suddenly a class that preferred to pursue its interests through connections and money, that relied on private security and electrical generators, was reminded of the need for government and the role of the state.

These protesting elites have shaken India's leaders. Singh has finally rid himself of his inane home minister and replaced him with the respected P. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Revenge of the Near
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.