Have we forgotten 9/11?


9/11 in 2001 changed a lot more than the face of Manhattan‬. What is our educated youth’s attitude towards our country’s seeming attempts at heightened ‪#‎security‬?

The first decade of the 21st‬ century was dominated by terror and‪ ‎terrorists‬. The event of 9/11 wasn’t only an ‪ American‬ event. It influenced nations and societies over the world, and continues today. The attack on the WTC‬ changed the manner in which the world viewed terrorism‬. Today,14 years later, today also terrorism is not just a concern—it has united and divided the world. The term #“Islamic terrorism”, debated and frowned upon until recently for the stereotypes it fueled, is back in parlance, thanks to the “Islamic State” form of global terrorism, which has left the world insecure, scared and enraged. Yet security seems either excessive or inadequate. How much is too much?
India has been often the ground zero for terrorists.

After the 9/11 attacks, our country made several reforms to stop terrorism. Yet, only a few months after, the ‪#‎Indian‬ parliament was under attack, and this act of terrorism continued years after years in form of bomb attacks on local trains in ‪‎Mumbai‬, and the most brutal attack in Mumbai on 26/11. Not to mention the latest terror attack against India- Gurdaspur ‬attacks in which a police station was made a battleground by terrorists.

So are we under prepared for this sort of act, and why are we not able to stop these attacks? While government’s‬ grapple with security issues do we, as ‪‎common‬ people, really live in constant fear and insecurity of terror? Despite political rhetoric and some security measures, India never quite managed to fire a shot; each time we found ourselves unprepared and lost momentum. The gaps in ground implementation are most symbolically apparent in Mumbai’s local train stations. While scanners are installed at entrances, people routinely skirt around them even as security personnel seem occupied or bored. More than half of the close circuit television sets (CCTVs) are either still-born or have become dysfunctional, once again exposing India’s inability to implement and assured sustained maintenance.

The Indian government has made changes in the security structure. Organizations like ‪#‎National‬ Investigation Agency (NIA), National Technical Research Organization (NTRO), National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) have been constituted. However, several key changes were largely incomplete because of turf battle and infighting within the government. The Natgrid‬, expected to empower the observing of terrorist operations through existing banking, finance and transportation, hasn’t resulted in a single prosecution and it will take years to become reality. Another project which would lead in connecting Police Stations across the country CCTNS‬ has been not completed fully due to objection from state governments.

“There is a complete dearth of basic human ‪#‎intelligence‬,” says a retired IB official. “Real, hard and actionable intelligence is almost non-existent. The agencies have lost the meaning of ‘fly on the wall’ and ‘ear to the ground’.”

NIA on the other hand has done well, but the number of unfilled positions seems to be a case of “set up for failure”. Many other programs by the government, such as force enhancement, modernization of police, etc have at best resulted in marginal—and highly insufficient—increments in effectiveness. Things are also not at par in the coastal security because of outdated vessels.

But while the government struggles with trying to secure our lives through roadblocks and other forms of ‪#‎deterrence‬, our observation tells us that most people regard security as an impediment to smooth flow. Women are far more scared of being groped by the man next to her in a crowded train than of a terror attack. ‪#‎Paranoia‬ among people seems more towards catching the crowded train every morning and evening than observing the unattended backpack under his seat.
The critical analysis is given by Naincy Priya with inputs from Disha Sharma and Sushmita Ghosh ,Mass com Journalism trainees at India Today Media Institute, Noida.

A small Vox pop done by Disha Sharma and Anuj Shukla, Mass com Journalism trainees.