Mumbai terror attacks - Shaken not stirred

Madukar Sabnavis, regional head of thought leadership at Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific, on the economic effects of last week's terrorist attack on Mumbai.

Madukar Sabnavis...regional head of thought leadership at Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai
Madukar Sabnavis...regional head of thought leadership at Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai

Terrorism is not new to Mumbai - we had synchronized bomb blasts in 1993, again in 2003 and last across trains in 2006.

Each time Mumbai has bounced back and soldiered on bravely. It will not be any different this time. This will also pass.

The terrorist attacks on two iconic hotels in Mumbai last week will have its impact on the civil administration and shake the security system but unlikely to stir it to the extent that India's growth path will be effected.

We Indians are culturally highly resilient. We accept set backs as part of life - something to be coped with rather than to be cowed down by.

Historically we have braved invasions and conquests and continued to prosper. We know how to co-exist with diversity.

It is interesting to note that the ‘violent' backlash witnessed post the 1993 blasts is significantly absent this time - a sign of maturity and learning.

We have learnt that ‘eye for eye' doesn't work and getting on with everyday life is the only way forward.

We know the only path to resolution is peace.

There is no doubt that in the short term tourism will be hit.

It is unrealistic to expect tourists, especially Western ones, to feel comfortable traveling into India.

The reaction of the English cricket team touring India recently was expected and understandable. However, the fact that they are returning to the country for the test series is indication that the country can bounce back.

India is more than Mumbai or the four metros. The country has so many ‘quality' locations to offer- for leisure or business- that once the dust settles, the world will accept that this was an aberration, a one off incident and there is much to come back to the country for.

It's ironic that on the Friday that Mumbai was besieged, the Government announced that, despite the global meltdown, India Inc had grown 7.7 per cent in the second quarter.

India's growth comes from its over 1 billion population spread across thousands of towns and villages. And no business can ignore this potential.

Young India, on the other hand, has reaped the benefit of growth and progress in the last decade and half and is not willing to be slowed down or stopped by dastardly acts of terrorism.

It is this spirit that will get Indian business and entrepreneurs keep them and the economy going.

Much of the adverse effect is based more on sentiment rather than fact. Sentiment cannot be ignored but is something that man will learn to get over in time.

The fundamentals of the Indian juggernaut are strong and buoyant; Indian hospitality and friendliness to our guests - foreign investors - will always exist and the Indian entrepreneurial spirit will always flourish, ensuring India will continue to be a place to turn to for business.

Over the last decade and half, we have learnt to manage the softer side of terrorist attacks- not let it fire side effects which are self destructive; these recent attacks will teach India to develop stronger hardware to prevent and combat future repeats.

The Indian democratic system and strong media will ensure that the powers to be will act with the support of like minded global nations.

In short India is shaken but not stirred. Life will be business as usual soon.

Something worth thinking about.