November 28, 2008
The terrorists attacked my city because of its wealth
Suketu Mehta in The Guardian:
The Taj was born out of a slight: because a man was turned away from a fancy hotel. When the prominent Parsi industrialist Jamshetji Tata was refused entrance into Watson's hotel in the 19th century because he was a native, he swore revenge, and built the Taj in 1903. It is less a hotel than a proving-ground for the ego. The Taj lobby and its adjoining toilets are where you test your self-worth; theoretically, anyone can come in out of the heat and sit in the plush lobby, or relieve themselves in the gleaming toilets. But you need that inner confidence to project to the numerous gatekeepers, the toilet attendants; you need to first convince yourself that you belong there.
The terrorists who swarmed the hotel on Wednesday ignored the gatekeepers, or shot them dead. They marched into the lobby with confidence, and in a rage. If, as seems likely, they are Muslims, then they are only the latest manifestation of the original sin of modern south Asia: the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan.
India has been congratulated, and has congratulated itself, for not supplying recruits to al-Qaida. India's 150 million Muslims are different, it was thought. During partition, they voted with their feet; until recently, there were more Muslims in India than in Pakistan. But Muslims are poorer, and less educated, than other Indians. Urban Muslims have a poverty rate of 38% - much higher than any other segment of the population, including the lower castes. The 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat, just north of Bombay, made many Muslims think that if the state could not or would not protect them, they would have to take matters into their own hands.
Posted by Azra Raza at 04:50 AM | Permalink