Column: Let’s hope it wasn’t India’s 9/11

The terrorist attacks on Mumbai have been called “India’s 9/11” by a number of media outlets. That Terrorist attacks
scares me. If this was India’s 9/11, does that mean that sometime in the future, America is going to have a 11/26? I hope not. I’ve looked at the statistics and, trust me, Americans are quite good at shooting each other. They don’t need any help from foreigners.

What scares me even more is the war that might result from India’s 9/11. I mean, haven’t the people of Iraq suffered enough? They really don’t need another country invading them. It would be a shame if American troops left Iraq in 2009 and Indian troops replaced them in 2010. That might seem like a positive outcome for President Obama, but he’d have trouble convincing Americans that he wasn’t just taking outsourcing to a whole new level.

You might think it’s ridiculous to believe that India would invade Iraq. But let’s face facts: Iraq was just as responsible for India’s 9/11 as it was for America’s. So don’t be surprised if, sometime in 2011, Indian soldiers do what Americans did several years earlier: pull Saddam Hussein out of a hole and put him on trial. (Chances are, he’ll be a lot more cooperative this time.)

Invading Iraq would be just one of many responses to India’s 9/11, if history is any indication. Before that, India would invade a more blameworthy country, one whose name ends with “stan.” (Sorry, I don’t mean to scare my readers in Tajikistan.)

India would also tighten airport security and make flying a little harder for all darker-skinned people. People from the north would glide through airport security with no hassles; people from the south would take the train.

Flying would be particularly difficult for people with Muslim names, such as actor Shahrukh Khan, and people who wear turbans, such as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Security official: “Sorry, Dr. Singh, this is just a random search. Do you mind if I run this metal detector randomly across your body?”

Singh: “Please do it fast. I need to catch a flight to a Navy ship, so I can make a speech under a banner that says ‘Mission Accomplished.’”

Another notable consequence of India’s 9/11 would be the creation of the India Patriot Act. It would allow the authorities to round up suspected terrorists, detain them and torture them –- sort of like they do now. It would also allow the authorities to eavesdrop on phone conversations and other communication, search homes and property without a warrant, and freeze various accounts, including bank, credit card, and, worst of all, Facebook.

India’s 9/11 would result in the loss of many freedoms, including freedom of speech. Newspaper columnists and others would be reluctant to criticize the government, fearing that they’ll be labeled “unpatriotic.” Many of them would instead search for ways to show their patriotism: Older people would display the Indian flag on their cars; younger people would tattoo it on their foreheads. Older people would stand upright, with their hands over the hearts, during the national anthem; younger people would turn down the volume on their iPods.

But the loss of freedom would be nothing compared to the loss of life. The victims of India’s 9/11 would include countless innocent people in Iraq and that country ending with “stan,” far more than the terrorists dreamed of killing. Few Indians would keep count, of course. The media would give them only the important numbers, such as the number of Indian soldiers killed, the number of Indian lives lost and the number of theaters showing Shahrukh Khan’s movies.

India’s 9/11? Let’s hope not.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. Kick ass post Melvin. Love it.

  2. Sounds like a psuedo tarot card reader’s prediction. But these days, it’s more bankable than Security intel. Scary to think of it so, but for all I know, the Foreign Minister may soon be saying to Hillary Clinton the same words he said to Condi Rice, with some more masala for Breaking News, which by the way has topped the TRPs beating some of the regular high glycerine weepy daily soaps!

  3. This is all you have to say about the terror attacks in India?

  4. I enjoy reading your column week after week, but this one left me wondering.
    It was tasteless, not funny, too casual for a serious event, and ……
    I hope you do better next time.

  5. Well, Melvin,
    As an Indian, yes, these things are bad, but anything the government can do, I as a
    private citizen can supersede, albeit for a price. they outlaw a certain radio
    frequency, I build a radio that can transmit receive on it. They start checking on
    explosives? I drive up to the farmhouse of my friend in Punjab state. His extended family
    owns about 3000 acres of wheat fields… now imagine how much of Ammonium nitrate those
    guys own? And with 2 combine harvesters in the family, will a stockpile of a few thousand
    gallons of diesel fuel draw suspicion?
    Ah and here in Bangalore. I won’t give details, but it is far easier for a criminal to
    get a gun and ammunition than for a law abiding citizen to do so. And yet people call for
    candle light vigils to protect this country… I hope they’ve bought the required carbon
    (via email)

  6. ‘Innocents’ on EITHER side, Melvin, but so far … it has been more Indian.
    *sigh* You are right, of course — about some things, but look where trying to keep ‘peace’ got us (Indians). No fair!
    Is it not weird?… you keep taking and the giving (belting, more like) still doesn’t stop.
    I am angry I am part of such a sytem that allows it to happen year by year. (My daughter used to play in the park in Hyderabad every weekend. I am lucky she stayed home that particular Saturday some months ago. Perspective changes when it strikes too close.
    (via email)

  7. Melvin,
    This is in bad taste.
    (via email)

  8. Razor-sharp and right on target.
    Thanks for writing.
    (via email)

  9. Juanita K says:

    As the disaster in Mumbai developed one of my first thoughts was of you and how you would be personally affected by the situation. For me your style of writing…using a tongue-in-cheek approach with a bit of overstatement… better defines the point you are trying to make. This is true not only of this column but of all you write. I look with great interest at what you say and how you say it. And, it is the best web communication of its type that I receive.
    Keep caring enough about the world and the people in it. Perhaps we shall all get the point someday.

  10. I certainly hope not. Man! what is this world coming to? And reading everywhere just indicates it’s gonna get even worse… God help us!

  11. I’m an American that watched the events happening in Mumbai on the Internet and cable TV. I’ve been grieving and feel ill about the senseless killing. I just wonder how are young men so deceived to do something so despicable in the name of God? It infuriates me that their cowardly “leaders” recruit and send out mothers’ sons to do their heartless work!
    I did laugh at some things you wrote, but feel conflicted. I recall comedians making jokes too soon after 9/11 and they were criticized. My son joined the US military to get the educational benefits, never suspecting Bush would declare war!
    I enjoy your wit. It’s a welcome relief in an insane world.

  12. Ok, for one you are taking the drawing paralells thing too far. And isnt it a little early to say anything, even if jokingly. I’ve followed your writing for nearly two years now but i honestly think you can do better than this.

  13. Engal Appa says:

    India’s 9/11 is it? Is that what they are calling this Mumbai incident? Why? Because rich foreigners were the victims? Meanwhile Messrs Karunanidhdhi, Vaiko, George Fernandes etc, Indian politicians in the Southern state of Tamil Nadu have been financing and sponsoring suicide bombing terrorism in neighboring Sri Lanka for decades. Nobody in the West gives a shit, apart from occasionally calling for negotiations with the terrorists and voicing concern for the “human rights” of the terrorists. Go figure!

  14. This wasn’t funny but taste-less !

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