Today we are once more at a time when lawless violence proliferates and territorial boundaries are infringed upon, when state leaders invoke “non-state actors” and argue for the need to respond in kind. Are new political formations taking shape in our midst, even as we defend the old order?
Whatever the global elements involved in these brutal events, from militant methods to media coverage, crucial is the fact that they were plugged into a local history of religious violence in Mumbai and elsewhere in the country, if only to scramble and so utterly transform this past.
While the dichotomy of “moderate” Muslims and “extremists” is prevalent in many media representations, this binary hides more than it reveals.
I grew up in Bombay (now Mumbai) in the 1950s and early 1960s. I spoke Tamil with my mother, a combination of English and Tamil with my siblings and my father, and various brands of Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi with friends, domestic helpers, neighbors, bureaucrats and shopkeepers. [...]
The leitmotif of old Bombay is its diversity. Populations with varied beliefs and languages were agglomerated by the British into an ever growing city, first as a trading post which then slowly transformed into an industrial and financial powerhouse. [...]
As the citizens of this vast metropolis seek to restore some semblance of normalcy to their lives, it is important to probe the possible reasons for this horrific episode and explore its ramifications for the future of India’s plural, democratic and secular state. [...]