Why has the Indian Prime Minister been so criticized? Why does he seem to feel responsible for what happened? What links might he have to this affair and what do ordinary Indians make of him? (Grévisse Kenguruka, Burundi)
The Indian government is being criticized for not doing enough to stop such terrorist attacks from occurring. Remember, India – and especially major Indian cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi – have witnessed a number of terrorist attacks in the past few years. There’s no question that there were spectacular security failures that enabled the militants to hijack a fishing trawler, kill a fisherman on board and sail right into Mumbai without being caught – either by the Indian Navy or the Coast Guards. And we’re not even talking about the intelligence failures.
People are simply sick of this inefficiency bordering on callousness. And so, their rage is being directed against the politicians – from all parties. I have to say I have not heard of personal criticism against the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. I think he is still a respected figure. Singh is a respected economist, he has a pretty clean record and he is still seen as an efficient administrator. But that could all change depending on how the government reacts in the next few days.
I spend three months of every year in India and I have found it hard to make friends with the Indian middle classes. I spoke with the director of the Alliance Francaise in Pandichéry and he felt that perhaps Indians aren’t all that interested in French culture. He was based in Iran for some time and found it easier to make friends there. (Jean-Pierre Coutan, La Roche-sur-Yon, France)
I must say I’m surprised to hear that it’s hard to make friends in India. It’s not a complaint I’ve ever heard from a Western tourist. If anything, Indians can be too friendly. While I’m in India, I suffer from friendliness overload. I’m wondering if there’s a language problem here – although I can’t imagine that the director of the Alliance Française is not a fluent English speaker. It might have something to do with being in Pondicherry. Remember, there’s an Aurobindo ashram there with plenty of Western “truth-seekers”. If you are being mistaken for a “truth-seeker,” the Indian middle classes – certainly the affluent, educated ones - can sometimes get exasperated with the “karma cola crowd” as they call it.
As for no interest in French culture, that’s absolutely true. India is such a vast country, it’s a subcontinent. It’s hard enough for most Indians to grasp every aspect of their own culture. Then again, India was a British colony, so when it comes to the West, they’re certainly more familiar with – and interested in - the UK and the US.
Shortly after the attacks, some Indian media organizations got an email from a group calling itself the “Deccan Mujahideen.” But there is no record of such a group’s existence and most experts agree that it was a made-up name. Indian security services believe the militants had links or were trained by the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group.
As for the reasons, the email talked about Muslim prisoners in Indian jails. But most people disregard these motives. While a number of foreign nationals died in the attacks – including American and British citizens – many more were rescued by the National Security Guards, an elite Indian commando force.