Sunday, November 30, 2008

India Under Siege – Importance of Emotional Support

We have just come out of a mind numbing and terrifying experience. Our senses have been pounded by the relentless media coverage of an audacious attack on Mumbai.

We had a ring side view to the brutality of the attack and the swiftness and decisive ruthlessness of the response.

Our immediate reaction has been of shock and disbelief. This slowly gave way to anger at the system, anger at our own helplessness and inability to do anything, frustration that we have to put up with this sense of insecurity time and again.

The next stage that we are in, presently, is trying to find out who is responsible for this mess. In India, the natural reaction is to shift our sights and blame the politician. We also observe that many find refuge in being highly cynical.

If you observe closely, it is clear that we Mumbaikars are, at the current moment, on the edge and highly strung. We are all ready to blow-up at the slightest provocation. We are inclined to believe any rumour and all that is worst.

The Mumbaikar is traumatized and emotionally devastated.

There is an urgent need to re-orient ourselves. We have absorbed too much negativity and are jumping around like a cat on a hot tin roof.

We, in Mumbai, can be broadly divided into following categories:

- Who were trapped during these attacks and survived,

- Those of us who lost a friend or relative,

- All residents in the vicinity of the affected areas,

- The rest of us spread out – not directly affected.

There is an urgent need for a cathartic experience which will help every one relieve their pent-up emotions.

We rarely talk about the need for a healthy emotional balance. It is very important and more so in the present context. After all, we do no want to be a brutalized and de-sensitised city, presuming we have not already reached that stage.

I invite fellow bloggers to share their views and it would be nice to discuss some concrete suggestions.


Vinod_Sharma said...

Mavin, you must know that there are millions of Indians who share your grief, shock and anger. The attack was not on Mumbai or Maharashtra, the attack was on my Indian heart. And I feel the pain a thousand miles away with the same intensity that you feel there.

This pain should turn to cynicism or resignation. It must motivate us into doing whatever we can to see that the reigns of this country are not given to those who are not fit. We have to mobilise opinion and force our rulers to listen. Remember, great movements and revolutions are light work for a people who don't give up and don't give in.

Indian Home Maker said...

Mavin this is a really heart warming post. I have been noticing the same thing, and even received comments filled with anger to posts which were meant to unite!
We can divert this anger very constructively towards positive changes, 1.) Deamand Rile 49 O to be implemented as suggested my Election Commission in 2004. My last post was about this. This will bring new faces in politics, not all will be great, but it will be a beginning. Do you think this is impossible?
2.)The Jago Re campaign, let's all bloggers create awareness and make sure each of us not only votes ourselves but helps others do the same. I had written a post on this just before the attacks.
I also think we need counseling after such catastrophes - those who are affected - their lives will change completely.
Although each individual reacts differently to shock, they all will benefit with some basic counseling. I know even watching something like this happen to others can affect you very seriously,
Excellent initiative, this is the ONLY way to react positively.

manju said...

Mavin, I read your post last night and wanted to think on it before replying.

I think IHM is very right when she says that we should divert our anger constructively to working towards positive changes.

General elections will be held in a few months. Elections is a time when the common man's voice can definitely be heard. The best way to make ourselves heard is through the ballot.

We should arm ourselves with information about the candidates and make informed decisions about who we will vote for.

Nita said...

Mavin, a nice post. You are have articulated what all of us are feeling. Yes, there is emotional exhaustion, fuelled by the negativity around us. Everywhere. You have mentioned all the feelings, but there is also fear. A certain nervousness about entering a hotel, a mall. I am sure many people will feel this, particularly those who have been directly affected.
The first thing we need to do is wake up and vote I guess IHM has already said that.That is what I feel too. And we need to vote intelligently, without thinking of community or religion, that is the most basic thing. Once we do that perhaps the people we choose will also choose their team without thinking of communities.
We need to select ministers to the cabinet according to their capability in that field, not to please a state lobby. But like in cricket, our politics runs on communal feelings - and so and so number of people from this state, so and so number from each state. Appoint a president to please this lobby, appoint someone because he/she is a chamcha.
And the reason these leaders get away with all this is because there is no accountability. People are kept because of their state, and because how they lick the boots of people, of because of their seniority or some such thing. We should take a lesson from cricket. Things improved once there was accountability.
Anyone not performing should be sacked forthwith. And responsibility has to be taken.
I am not impressed with the resignations now, when these people are forced to resign, because in any case they would have been out in another six months.
There are many many things that are needed to be done but nothing can be done unless we have the kind of politicians who have the mettle to do it. Once the public and the PM demands accountability, they will choose people who will perform.

Gopinath's "Artickles" said...

Mavin, as for now we need to keep off TV and meditation/ pranayam/ yoga is the right way to go about the destressing that is the utmost need of the hour. As for actions needed on the security front, the new team appointed will get cracking on it. We cant expect miracles, but we can expect some action/decisions that were needed all along!

Anrosh said...

remember tilak who organized community meetings - hold such meetings in apartment buildings, and near railway stations - for people to vent out their repressed feelings.(creaates a good feeling of fostering of community )
to avoid creating a riot based situation.

Local NGO's should promote sessions in communities - slums, chawls, lanes ( where there is a high risk of riots to evolve )

awareness meetings in colleges and work places and places where people can gather. (the youth is ready to pounce )

last but not the least - a protest march to mantralaya ( i don't know if it is in and when it is session )- will bring the government to task.

Mavin said...

Hi Vinod.... are always the first to comment.

Yes we must not become cynical and in fact should get out of the negative mindset and repond pro-actively and positively.

For this to happen it is necessary that people are relaxed and there is no anger or cynicism whilst participating in any group activism.

What I have mentioned is an immediate requirement which helps people get back on tracks and eliminated fear and anger from their minds.

Mavin said...

Hello IHM,

Thanks for your comment.

Our initial reaction to such events is shock and disbelief which gives way to anger. This is natural.

At such times logic and level headedness is absent. We are emotionally upset and angry - a potent combination for disaster.

You are right. We need to have a combination of immediate, short term and long term actions that will restore semblance of order and preparedness in our security systems.

Further, as you rightly mention, we citizens of India should be alert and see that system functions and does not fall into disuse and decay once our memories of this event fade.

Mavin said...

Hi Manju,

Yes - We need to shed our apathy and get more active in the conduct of our social, civic and national affairs.

It is important that we are in a proper frame of mind to take appropriate decisions during elections, free from bias, fear and anger.

Mavin said...

Hi Nita,

You have hit the nail on its head.

After the initial reaction of shock and disbelief, fear and anger takes hold of us.

That is a very good point. I will add that in my post.

We must get up and shed our apathy. Our educated masses seem to be least interested in participating in any election. We have to shame them and ensure very high turnouts. It is almost like a fundamental duty (not a right).

Mavin said...

Hi Gopi,

Yes you are right. The power of meditation and pranayama in restoring balance is immense. It is time we brought it back into our lives and made it a daily must-do habit.

There are two possibilities as we Indians tend to oscillate between two extremes. We would build up high hopes which but naturally end up in disappointment or end up being so highly cynical that we stop caring.

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Krishnan said...

Mavin, we, in Chennai, are all outraged by this senseless mayhem in your city. First, let me salute the police officials and commandos who lost their lives in the line of their duty. The image of Shri Hemant Karkare donning his ill-fitting helmet and rudimentary vest wound not go out of my eyes for quite some time. Are our cities so unprotected that anyone can strike us at will ? Are we the ultimate soft state that anyone can attack and wound us at their sweet will ? My suggestions are:

1. It is time we talk tough with Pakistan and if they are not in a mood to listen, to take some punitive action - if need be bomb the hq of terrorist groups.

2. Equip our police force with modern arms - after all they are the first line of defence.

3. All of us, aam aadmi, should be vigilant and act as eyes and eyes for our internal security.

Ritu said...

We need action Mavin. The anger being vented on politicians stems from that - and they do deserve it. War is a terrible action to take - but right now I can understand the need for that too. I lost a friend in Taj

Mavin said...

Hello Anrosh,

You are very right.

Mass action literally at every street corner is needed to mobilise opinion.

Infact, there is a mass gathering tomorrow evening at the Gateway.

Unfortunately, many politicians are lying low or making correct noises and they believe that this anger will blow away and things will return back to normal.

The Congress is petrified that these attacks will only result in their losing the elections and therefore want to be seen as doing something.

But there is no credibility left.

Mavin said...

Hello Ritu,

Long time no see....

There is widespread anger and fear in Mumbai.

I have some family friends who stay near the Colaba - Cuffe Parade area. They could see the commandos being airdropped and hear the firing/explosions.

The entire family is dazed and in a trauma. My friend's wife had to be tranquilised and she is a shadow of her old self.

My point was that there are many people like this in Mumbai who need help.

Yes - action is required and a well thought out action plan at that....

We have to make it happen.

manju said...

Mavin, I have a surprise for you on my blog. Come and take a look.:)

Mavin said...

Hi Krish,

The trauma is slowly getting under control and fear subsiding.

The sheer audacity of the attack has been enough to invoke shock and awe (as Bush said it once).

A cool headed and a well planned approach is necessary for a total revemp of our approach to security.

Avani said...

This comment may not sound as wise. But it is my own bitter experience. A week is over after the terror attack that devastated our beautiful city. I agree that the need of the hour is to re-orient our-selves and bring about a healthy emotional balance. My friend lost his mom just a day before his wedding. Looking at him, I am devastated. Not even fear but anger is the only emotion that has occupied my system completely. Yoga and meditation as mentioned in one of the comments does not help. You just cannot concentrate. The only thing that helps a little is a long long walk. In this scenario, I am sure, all those direct and indirect victims want to vent out their anger. As it said that words of wisdom wont make any sense to a boy who steals because he is very hungry. Similarly, a system filled with anger will not accept any practice of bringing about emotional balance. Anger should not get suppressed, it should be thrown out. There is a need for these angry voices to be heard. Only then, can ways of bringing about healthy emotional balance be worked out.

Mavin said...

Every one is traumatised but the degree varies.

Infact, in my post I have divided Mumbaikars into four categories. The first and second groups would be devastated. It will be lowest in the last category.

Even before I talk about restoring balance, I have highlighted the need for "a cathartic experience which will help every one relieve their pent-up emotions."

We are essentially saying the same thing.

Final_Transit said...

Hi Mavin,

Reading your post long time after the event was over. I was in Bhutan and the people there are so simple (and naiive) that they repeatedly asked me why were people killing and (childish) questions like that to which I had no answers. Good thoughts