Mumbai Attacks May Spur New Activism Among India's Business Class

Ann All

When I wrote about the terrorist attacks on Mumbai earlier this month, I mentioned prominent businessman Ratan Tata's public plea to the Indian government to improve the country's ability to deal with these kinds of attacks.


Now Tata is being joined by other business executives and white-collar workers, reports


The attacks could prove to be a galvanizing event for affluent Indians, who have long tolerated government incompetence and corruption as they built their businesses. In the days following the attacks, lawyers, engineers and other upper-class folks filed lawsuits, organized petitions and discussed a tax strike. There's even talk of organizing a new political party.


India's middle- and upper-class residents have remained largely removed from the political process since politicians focus primarily on the country's huge population of rural poor. The Mumbai attacks hit close to home -- literally -- for well-to-do business types who frequent restaurants and bars in the exclusive neighborhood targeted by the terrorists.


As notes, many of India's outsourcing companies "have been forced to operate as island countries," creating their own infrastructures to make up for a lack of public facilities. Many of the companies are now lobbying the government to loosen restrictions on the security forces they typically employ. Says Mohandas Paiify, director of human resources for Infosys Technologies:

We have asked the government to allow certified private security agencies to carry more sophisticated arms and systems.

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