December 1, 2008

Ed.note: As most of you who frequent this humble little outpost in the blogosphere well know, I spend a lot of time sending work over to, and communicating with, an offshore team in India. Today we received this letter from the head of our offshoring group. I thought I’d share it with you – how poignant it seems given the sentiments of this Advent season I wrote about just the other day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 night was when most of us heard the news of the terror attacks in Mumbai. Some of us found out the next morning. It is now over 48 hours (at the time I write this article) and the combat still continues. This is undoubtedly the worst terrorist attack in India and is comparable to the 9/11 tragedy in terms of the meticulous planning that the terrorists seem to have done to cause maximum damage.

It is at times like this that we need to stand as one country, leaving aside all our differences. It was heartening to read that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Leader of the Opposition, L K Advani plan to travel together to Mumbai, accompanied by the President of the ruling party, Sonia Gandhi. Whatever be our ideologies and political beliefs, national security has to be above them. Terror knows no religion, no language, and no caste. I am sure that if we were to look at the demographics of those that were killed in the attack, we would find people of all creeds and nationalities. Each one of them leaves behind grieving families and friends, too shocked to comprehend how their loved ones have been brutally snatched away.

While many of us will be lucky to escape this personal trauma, we will continue to hear of friends or friends of friends who suffered. As an example, I just heard that the person, who supplies all the chairs for our Pune office, was at dinner with his parents and wife at the Taj and all of them lost their lives, except his wife, who survived with serious injuries.

While there will be the usual platitudes about strengthening the intelligence and response teams, we might fall back into the usual political blame game, and delay the necessary changes. Be that as it were, all of us need to do our bit to contribute to the security preparedness. As an example, we as a company, do rigorous background verification checks of all new hires and terminate any employee who is found to have given fraudulent information. All of us need to be vigilant in our day to day lives to make sure that we build a culture that ensures better security. For example, we should have complete details of any servants or maids working in our households, and also file a copy with the nearest police station. If we rent out any flat or house, we should verify the antecedents of the tenants and also register the documents. If the tenants are not Indian nationals, then this information also needs to be registered with the police. If we see any suspicious activity, rather than rationalizing the same, it should be reported to the police, even though it might turn out to be perfectly legitimate.

We need to be united in this hour of crisis. This is not only a national priority, but also a world priority. The world is reeling under a financial meltdown already. Such acts can only push the economies of the world into a deeper abyss. The Indian tourism industry, including medical tourism, which can help [us] sell our software in India, will be particularly affected. It will also impact the decisions of others who might have been looking at outsourcing to Indian companies. Given the slowdown in the outsourcing industry that we have already seen, this could mean the final nail in the coffin of several Indian outsourcers. The only way we can recover from this body blow to the economy, is by taking urgent steps to ensure that such terrorist attacks never recur.

I request you all to give a thought as to how we can individually contribute our mite towards ensuring a terror-free world. Let us also keep the unfortunate innocent souls who lost their lives in our prayers.

You read a letter like this, and only the most hard-hearted person would fail to realize that yesterday’s New York, or Madrid, or London is today’s Mumbai, is tomorrow’s who-knows-where. Our brothers and sisters halfway across the world need to be kept in our thoughts and prayers during this time of pain and mourning. We are all part of the human condition – a people who along with all of creation groans under the weight of sin and death. It’s a damned sad business.

This Advent season we pray for God’s coming once again in glory in the hope and grudging awareness that He – and no matter how hard we might try, only He and not we, has the power to redeem and reclaim the world into a new creation, where the light and peace of Christ is eternal, and pain and suffering is no more. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of India.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 23:52 | Comments (0)
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