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Youth Speak!

December 3, 2008

Varna Sriraman (23), Chennai

Varna SriramanIf there was to be one response beyond the deep sense of horror every Indian felt during the Mumbai terror attacks, it should be a renewed commitment to peace.

A little bit of myself went cold -- with fear, with revulsion and with the thought that we all just took another giant step backwards -- we went from civilized negotiation to fist fights, from speeches to squeezing life out of throats and perhaps just witnessed the start of yet another violent uprising against a particular people.

It is easy perhaps to turn and blame our neighbours for harbouring terrorists, what is perhaps more important and consequently difficult. More than the nationalities of terrorists -- a long stalled delay to the peace process in this country across a whole host of fronts are the real harbingers of guns and grenades.

It is precisely times such as these that call for a march towards inclusion regardless of religion.

Remember that it took a couple of five-star hotels to be burnt and maimed before our enormous defence budget could be used towards building an effective barrier to hatred.

The most effective of these barriers is not a celebration of militarism or better helicopters but a consistent hacking away at what should be the 'Spirit of Mumbai' and indeed India.

We cannot allow attempts to turn this democratic country into a xenophobic fortress.

Photograph: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel

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