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Crisis in India Shows Us the True Recession

This piece is a response to the PostGlobal discussion, which asks, "If the current global recession gets worse, which countries or regions will it destabilize? Is there a way out?"

"Current" global recession? It really depends to whom you're talking. Certainly not the three billion people in the world, living on less than $2.50 a day. For them, there's nothing current about the global recession. For them, it's always been ongoing; it's almost a way of life.

That the lifestyles of the world's wealthy have been hit does not mean that the world at large is experiencing a current global recession. You have only to ask the really poor.

It's just like that "luxury connection" to the Bombay terror attacks. And it goes well beyond the lush interiors of the Taj Mahal Hotel still standing majestically, despite the senseless tragedy it had to endure last week.

It also goes beyond the possibly fake Versace T-shirt worn by the young gunman pausing at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, before he continued his indiscriminate killing spree.

For the posh posse of Bombay, terror had finally come home - into their favorite hang-out places - and now that they are no longer safe, we hear rallying cries for an American-style Patriot Act. Sure, they sympathized when Bombay's trains - that they never use - were bombed in 2006. Doubtless, they grieved when open streets in Indian cities such as Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Bangalore - not malls and high-end boutiques - were attacked earlier this year. But, now they're shouting. Because now, terror in India is "current" for them, too.

The English-language media in India is clamoring for increased national security proclaiming that the country must wage a war on terror. "Enough is Enough" is what the TV news anchors are saying repeatedly on what they have unimaginatively declared as "India's 9/11."

And they are ably assisted by sound-bytes from the pretty and wealthy women and men, who live in and love South Bombay, where most of the attacks took place.

Like the global recession, terror in Bombay is not a current phenomenon. Ask the really affected. Ask the everyday people of all religions and regions, who have no choice but to get on with life, despite past bombings. Ask the Muslims who've been massacred in riots of days gone by. Ask the North Indians and South Indians who've been attacked by native Bombayites.

However, as the world ponders over the well-planned catastrophe, it's important to note that the Bombay terror attacks represent much more than a country versus country situation, or a religion versus religion scenario or even a terrorist versus civilian thing.

The events in Bombay in so many ways can be interpreted as a terrifying dress rehearsal for a potential conflict between the "Have-Nots" and the "Have-Lots" - recession or otherwise. For even when things possibly get better for the people experiencing a current global recession, little will change for the other three billion.

The global recession will hurt governments and societies. Every society, where the poor remain faceless, nameless and voiceless, will be hurt even more. Every country where the middle class have been forgotten - as their media sometimes remembers the poor and their markets always work to increase the extravagances of the super-rich. The 62-hour ordeal in Bombay could be seen as symptomatic of the future of the world if we don't temper mankind's excesses.

The war that is being fought in India today is one against terror, under the simplistic belief that we will be safe. So that the grand-daddies of Bollywood will not have to sleep with their licensed .32 revolver under their pillows and so that the rich and famous don't have to show resilience and spirit, but can continue indulging in their little luxuries.

The war that really should be fought is one against poverty - on an economic, social and political level. For India's poor are truly among the world's poorest. The bottom rungs of Indian society can hardly count on little or any human rights. And the country at large is mostly politically deprived and depraved, for an utter lack of impressive leadership.

For now, the only way out for India is to fight the war on poverty with fresh determination in order to win the war on terror.

As for the rest of the world, is there a way out of the current global recession? Again, it depends to whom you're talking. For now, we'd all do well to sit back and count our blessings. That is, of course, if we have any blessings left to count - and, if some of us ever had any blessings at all.

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Comments (10)

faithfulservant3 Author Profile Page:

This is the most insightful piece I've seen in a long while. He is right on point. Why did it seem to miraculously appear out of nowhere?

An incredibly large group of the world's population is living in abject poverty and misery that is on a scale that we can only begin to comprehend here. The situation breeds hopelessness and a loss of pure faith. Many such people conclude that a life without any real hope of accomplishing anything is not worth living at all. We might feel the same if faced with similar circumstances. Mere slights and grievances are magnified. Thus, becoming a terrorist becomes a reasonable option.

Our attempts to promote democracy with the possibility that it may spur free market captalism and modern Western prosperity may be sincere. However, this route fails to factor in the history, culture and circumstances elsewhere around the globe. We need solutions that are expressions of those we seek to help and who they are, not ourselves.

It seems as if too many Americans count themselves as superior to those in poverty; here and abroad. They feel like everyone should be able to work hard to make it like they did. But they fail to realize that it is not them alone, or their ancestors (who benefited from free slave labor I might add), that are responsible for America's prosperity.

It was God who gave you the intelligence, tenacity and skill to be who you are. It is God who placed a treasure trove of natural resources here for our disposal. It wasn't your parents alone who conceived you, but it was God who placed you in this wealthy country where you at least have a fair chance, now.

Where is the humility, thankfulness and compassion?

mnaseem95 Author Profile Page:

USA WAS A SUPER POWER WITH LOTS OF MONEY,MONEY IS TRUE SUPER POWER.FOR LONG TIME USA WAS RUN BY THE JEWS.JEWS PUSH USA TO INVADE IRAQ COST 700B DOLLER THIS IS WHAT THAY TILL US,BUT THE TRUE COST OF THE WAR IS 10 TIMES MOOR.ALL THE MONEY JEWS ENDID UP WITH.KNOW THE JEWS NOW USA WILL NOT FIGHT FOR THEM ANY MOOR.KNOW JEWS R TAKING ALL THE MONY AND GOING TO INDIA.JEWS NEED INDIANS TO FIGHT FOR JEWS WITH MUSLIMS.SOON JEWS WILL BRING DOWN THIS SUPER POWER CALLED USA,AND USA IS GOING DOWN.BUT USA HAVE DON LOT FOR THE JEWS.USA HAVE KILLED 50 TO 60M MUSLIMS IN LOST 60 YEARS,IT HAVE BEEN THE BLOODY SUPER POWER ON EARTH.NOW THE NEW KILLERS THE HINDUS GOING TO FIGHT FOR JEWS.THE JEWS WILL TURN SOUTH ASIA IN TO A BLOOD BATH.INDIA AND PAKISTAN BOUTH NUKES AND BOUTH OF THEM WILL USE THEM ON EACH OTHER,AND SOUTH ASIA WILL BE HELL ON EARTH.MAY GOD HELP THE WORLD

mnaseem95 Author Profile Page:

USA WAS A SUPER POWER WITH LOTS OF MONEY,MONEY IS TRUE SUPER POWER.FOR LONG TIME USA WAS RUN BY THE JEWS.JEWS PUSH USA TO INVADE IRAQ COST 700B DOLLER THIS IS WHAT THAY TILL US,BUT THE TRUE COST OF THE WAR IS 10 TIMES MOOR.ALL THE MONEY JEWS ENDID UP WITH.KNOW THE JEWS NOW USA WILL NOT FIGHT FOR THEM ANY MOOR.KNOW JEWS R TAKING ALL THE MONY AND GOING TO INDIA.JEWS NEED INDIANS TO FIGHT FOR JEWS WITH MUSLIMS.SOON JEWS WILL BRING DOWN THIS SUPER POWER CALLED USA,AND USA IS GOING DOWN.BUT USA HAVE DON LOT FOR THE JEWS.USA HAVE KILLED 50 TO 60M MUSLIMS IN LOST 60 YEARS,IT HAVE BEEN THE BLOODY SUPER POWER ON EARTH.NOW THE NEW KILLERS THE HINDUS GOING TO FIGHT FOR JEWS.THE JEWS WILL TURN SOUTH ASIA IN TO A BLOOD BATH.INDIA AND PAKISTAN BOUTH NUKES AND BOUTH OF THEM WILL USE THEM ON EACH OTHER,AND SOUTH ASIA WILL BE HELL ON EARTH.MAY GOD HELP THE WORLD

bug45 Author Profile Page:

Absolutely ridiculous "analysis" and conclusion by Vinita Bharadwaj about the cause for the Mumbai terror attacks. War on poverty indeed. Please Ms. Bharadwaj why dont you list the number of "Muslims who've been murdered in the riots of days gone by." You are yet another dhimmi terror apologist who has no shame at all in giving an excuse to murder. Any act of terrorism that kills innocent people of any religion should be condemned in the strongest possible manner and stronger action should be taken to stop the terror. But in India we have terrorist lovers who scream for the human rights of the terrorist when the blood hasn't dried and the murder is still taking place. Have you people no shame?

These murderers were from Pakistan. Pakistan is a nation that believes and supports Islamism. Hatred of Hindus is second nature in Pakistan. But saying this is not politically correct because Islamism just cannot be the reason.

wbsat Author Profile Page:

TQUSA, you first bother the consistent threats of bankruptcy that a failed state like pakistan faces.Its pakistan that is obsessively bankrupting itself regrading kashmir. you are the only one side who is going to lose.

money is not at all a problem when combating evils like militant islam ideologies.we are determined to defeat the enemies of multiculturalism, the fraudulent two nation theory of pakistan and the umpteen pro terrorist ideologies arising from pakistan and other islamic countries.

i know we are the only side who is going to win.you and your deluded jehadi scum can keep dreaming!

tqusa Author Profile Page:

My dear friends from India...Here are some strange numbers that came through. There are 1 Million Indian army and paramilitary forces in IHK (Indian Held Kashmir) that cost $1000/solider/month for keeping him/her operational in Kashmir. That is $10 Billion/month, the same amount that US is spending per month in Iraq... Whoa!

I am sure Indian citizens would like to put Kashmir aside and have the government spend $120 Billion/year on well being of India, like roads, bridges, dams, health, and education of Indian public. See it might be worthwhile to think how bad a deal is India living with because Kashmir issue. Some times it is worthwhile to leave sentiments aside and really look at thing differently...

See what USA has finally realized (Obama). They want to get out of this Bush created 'war on terror' that has costed US over 1.5 Trillion dollars, and actually is the reason for total financial melt down in USA.
Look at how USSR bleeds during Afghan war?
Do you see Chinese in a state of war....No, now you understand why they are financially progressing?
Since USSR disintegration, have you seen Russain's in a state of war....No, now you now why their financial health is better.

See, the reason the arms companies of the world want the war between any 2 countries is because it sells weapons and to both sides!!!! Get it. This is total insanity....

Its time that the people take the governments by the horns in all fighting countries and force peace solutions... Its time we learn to live with differerences!

roachdragon Author Profile Page:

Surely, Ms. Vinita must be hallucinating...war on poverty eliminates terrorism !! really ? Lets do a sanity check on
this statement. If this were true, how do you explain terrorist attacks in US, UK and Spain ? How do you explain the
al-qaida cells in western countries, where poverty is almost non-existent ? You must be living under a rock all this
time, not to notice these little incidents..How do you explain rich Saudi citizens perpetuating terrorism ramming
wide-bodied planes into sky scrapers? Terrorism is result of an idea that is rooted in religion. No matter how much
money you throw at it, you cannot kill an idea. If this were true the roads in pakistan must be paved with gold, what
with all the money that Uncle Sam channeled into that black hole of a country.

You say.."The bottom rungs of Indian society can hardly count on little or any human rights"...REALLY? I suspect you
are confusing economic conditions with Human rights...Or you may be confusing China with India. Human rights do not
mean right to money...The last time I checked Indian people are free, free to pursue their vocation and earn the
money. They have an independent judiciary and a free press. They can have any number of children they want. They can
follow any religion they want etc . Lately job oppurtunities are exploding, with an expanding economy. But if you want to complain, I guess you will always find something. You seem to be
a commie whiner and worry-wart.

mnaseem95 Author Profile Page:

ITS A SHAM THAT ALL THE JEW CENTERS IN INDIA R PREACHING HATE AGAINST THE MUSLIMS.THAY PREACH TO HINDUS TO FIGHT THE MUSLIMS NOT ONLY IN INDIA AND PAKISTA BUT ALL OVER THE WORLD.SOON THE WORLD WILL SEE THE INDIAN IN M,EAST WITH ALL SORT OF TERROR.THIS IS WHAT JEWS R PREACHING IN INDIA.MUSLIMS IN M,EAST THINK THAT HINDUS R FREIND.BUT THAY DO NOT KNOW THAT HINDUS WILL BE FIGHTING FOR JEWS ALL THROU THE M,EAST AND IN INDIA AND PAKISTAN.JUST LIKE USA

jonthiele Author Profile Page:

I agree with Mr Bharawaj. "The events in Bombay in so many ways can be interpreted as a terrifying dress rehearsal for a potential conflict between the Have-Nots and the Have-Lots", as the columnist says, but that does not make it so. Indeed, such a view is harmful in that it not only excuses the behavior as, if not justified, at least understandable and in that it places responsibility for mass murder on everyone with a decent income and not on the men who pulled the triggers.

A grievance might or might not be legitimately felt but it is separate from the murder of a randomly selected passerby which is in no case excusable.

Mr Bharawaj is also correct in noting the torture and murder of the rabbi, but he is too kind. The columnist's advoidance of this important fact which undercuts his point is deliberate. That the Post publishes a piece that is obviously untrue and deliberately misleading reflects badly on everything in the paper.

jferdy5 Author Profile Page:

Aaron Miller's work is remarkable: it's hands down one of the most poorly researched and written pieces in a major Western paper I've read so far. Let's begin with the "war on poverty" narrative. Why were Jews targeted? As well, we've heard this argument about class, rich, poor and other issues as well. However, India borders Pakistan. Could that, even possibly, be a contributor to the problems here? Perhaps? Just maybe?

Oh, throw in "North Indian" and "South Indian" and you sound knowledgable, right? You need to do more research than simply reading Wikipedia. One of the problems with Westerners like Mr. Miller is that he's one of these "instant experts" who probably couldn't tell you how many countries bordered India a few weeks ago. But I guess this is part of the low quality of journalism that's become part of the Post. If you're going to comment on inequality, you might want to look up "Gini coefficient." Good luck with that.

Oh, by the way, it's Mumbai. Let's hope that Mr. Zakaria has something more knowledgable to say.

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.