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#here2help In 140 Characters Or Less

#here2help In 140 Characters Or Less

July 18, 2011

How social media has changed the way Indians fight back in the war against terror.

I’ve never experienced a disaster firsthand and for that I am grateful, but if I did I’d be grateful for the existence of social networks. The Mumbai blasts are not a wake up call, they are what they are, a bunch of cowards trying to make a point - a point that they aren’t sure of themselves.

We are known for our affinity to hungama & shor. Loud, flashy, exaggerated sentiments, courtesy of Bollywood. But, the aftermath of the blasts saw an impeccably organized response....from the civilians. In an uncanny clash of the Evil and the social-networking enthusiasts, the city came through for itself. 17 people died its true, but 17000 more came together on the web, extending help - strangers offered up their homes for shelter, executives in offices took to the streets like cabbies shuttling passengers to safety. Twitter and Facebook were on fire with posts offering up helpline numbers, nearby shelters, personal addresses and contact information.

Like a wave through the city after the blasts, an air of panicked purpose set in. Minds were in overdrive, but they acted rationally. The injured were hospitalized immediately, families didn’t hog the telephone lines, they only heaved a sigh of relief when a voice was heard on the other end. This might be another notch in the ‘social-networking-is-not-entirely-useless’ column, its also me trying to look on the bright side.  India can hold her own when attacked, we come together and act fast. Just because we can deal with it, doesn’t mean we should and it doesn't mean we won't retaliate. Being known for tolerance is proving to be unfavorable for us.

Mumbai was never known to be a safe haven. Now its fate has been sealed to never even hope for that title. A million posts will come, angry, with wings beating at the windows of the Government. The blame game will start once again, and in it the lives of those who were lost will meld seamlessly and fade away. I’m angry I guess, but I can’t keep track anymore. The word ‘blast’ is a headline everyday, be it in Bombay or Baghdad.

When there are people who are playing outside the rules, how can we hope to play their game and win? We can only hope that there will be no “next time” and (God forbid) if there is, India will come together like it did this time.

“Ae dil hai mushkil jeena yahan zara hat ke zara bach ke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan“

(oh my heart its difficult to love here, please be careful in this treacherous city). 

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