The Cosmopolite
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
"Son, we live in a world with walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns..." - Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men

For the past few years we had forgotten Colonel Jessup's (Nicholson) words. We got seduced by the India story, by 9% growth, by Tata Steel and Tata Motors, and not least by the Internet. We believed that we had broken through those walls, we had demolished those walls and the world was a better place. We had forgotten about the value and importance of the men-with-guns who guard these walls, and on Nov 26, 2008 we were reminded.

The Mumbai Terror Attacks, India's 9/11, my lifes second before-and-after event was a watershed. It was the first terror attack in this country which targeted those who were at the forefront of the India miracle and exposed their weaknesses. These attacks went a long way to prove that while an ever increasing proportion of the world turns towards what Tom Friedman calls, building better Lexus', there are a large number of people who are attracted by the lure of the olive tree in the backyard. The deeper the roots, the harder it is to root it out...

Economic development is expected to bring prosperity and peace; however paradoxically, the same economic development needs greater protection in order for it to survive. It needs those men with guns to be strong, fair and on the side of the physically weaker farmers, factory workers, investment bankers, babus, civil workers etc to ensure that the development is not lost. All of us need that security to go out and do our thing, whatever it may be, and while whatever we may do would be important, it is no more important than guarding those walls.

We believed the hype about an integrated world and forgot about those walls.... and were rudely awakened... I hope we shall now never forget....
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