Till 9/11, terrorism was viewed through the telescope of cliches. Poor, angry, illiterate, ignorant, impressionable youth in despotic countries who hated “our way” of life, we were told, were being drawn into its fold. But the London blasts of July 2005, and now the failed Glasgow attacks, show that a seismic shift has taken place, is taking place, in the demographic profile of the agents of terror.
For one, you have the spinechilling spectacle of those who cure trying to kill. Then you have people doing PhDs in computational fluid dynamics driving jeeps into airports. But the real shocker is where they come from: not the sleazy bylanes of Shivajinagar but upper middleclass BTM. And born not of poor cycle mechanics—as the stereotype goes—but of rich doctors who speak English impeccably.
Poverty? Illiteracy? Ignorance? Rich-poor divide?
It’s an odd travesty. Or may be not so odd. That terror, too, should be outsourced to the world’s capital of outsourcing. Probably, it was cheaper to get it done by people half way around the world. Probably, the time difference helped get more bang for the buck. Probably, the English language proficiency. Probably, the climate in Bangalore is ideal for the growth of another sunrise industry?
From today’s Indian Express:
“Everything we know so far, including the bits that especially matters to us as Indians, about the failed Glasgow bombings, can be put under the subhead of globalisation. Al-Qaeda, supposedly the mastermind of the healers as killers plot, is globalised politics of fanaticism. Britain’s National Health Service is a national project that would shut down without global movement of skilled labour. Four out of 10 doctors in the NHS were trained outside Britain. Indians, nearly 28,000 of them, are the largest foreign contingent. Bangalore, the city that seems to be the epicentre of the India connection in the Glasgow case, is India’s best symbol of success under globalisation. But it is now also the locus of two less celebratory discussions connected with globalisation.
“First, has globalised terror finally succeeded in recruiting educated Indians? Infosys, not Al-Qaeda, was supposed to be our response to globalisation. If there is a sub-plot in that narrative, there is no point letting either leftwing political correctness or rightwing political demagoguery obfuscate it. It could be true that Indian middle class professionals who come up on the terror radar are indoctrinated abroad. It is also true that plenty separates India from Pakistan, and Middle Eastern and North African countries, the usual hunting grounds for Al-Qaeda’s HR managers. But these countries are not India’s reference points. If young men from affluent families in Bangalore turn out to be willing executives of global terrorism, we have to not only understand why Britain may want to have deeper background checks but also why the Indian middle class story is faltering in some cases. There is more than just the acceptability of skilled Indian migrants at stake here…”