The Dec. 8 cover package on the Mumbai tragedy riveted readers. "Fareed Zakaria's reactions were powerful given his personal and familial connections to the Taj Mahal Hotel," one said. And a former Indian security official cited "a callous bureaucracy" that cares more about politics than national security.
s Vulnerability to Terror
The Mumbai blasts have unmasked the frailty of the Indian government in combating this growing malaise of sporadic terrorist attacks ("This Fire Needs to Be Put Out," Dec. 8). While exposing the impotency of the nation's internal security and governance, the Mumbai blasts have revealed the courage of the Mumbai police force, the Indian army and the media who carried out their responsibilities relentlessly in the face of enduring peril. All the Indian government seems to be doing after such attacks is to condemn the dastardly acts and instantly go into hibernation. Forums and cells created to combat terrorism work on cracking past cases and do little or nothing to prevent such events recurring. It remains to be seen if the horrific Mumbai attacks will jolt the Indian government to act sternly and keep terrorism at bay. One hopes that something constructive comes out of Mumbai's humiliation in India.
K. Chidanand Kumar
Sumit Ganguly's Dec. 8 analysis in "Delhi's Three Fatal Flaws" is not entirely correct. It is not that India did not try to convince the world that the country was a victim of terror; it is that the West, in spite of overwhelming evidence, refused to be convinced until 9/11—that is until it also became a victim of terror. India's banes are weak laws, a colonial police, callous bureaucracy and leadership that gives precedence to political considerations over issues affecting national security.
Former Director General
Border Security Force, India
Like Fareed Zakaria's, my first memories of the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels are probably when I visited Mumbai for the first time at the age of 16. Those memories came flooding back when I was watching on TV from my Dire Dawa apartment both hotels on fire. One of the greatest strengths of India is that the Hindu majority still lives together, peacefully for the most part, with the world's second-largest Muslim population. I was born and brought up in a moderate Muslim family of India, received my engineering degree from Aligarh Muslim University and worked in one of the largest public sectors of India. I have many close Hindu friends. We discuss common interests such as our culture, country, career, sports, films, inflation and keep aside our differences like religion. The common Indian is secular, and these so-called politicians are the real culprits, instigating religious sentiments for their "wasted" interest, as correctly mentioned by Shekhar Gupta in his Dec. 8 essay, "The Problem Is Politics." As mentioned in Sumit Ganguly's "Delhi's Three Fatal Flaws," Muslims constitute 13 percent of population but only 3 percent of the elite administrative services while the same Muslims are offered better opportunities and emoluments in the Gulf countries as a result of global competition. Yes, government needs to do something concrete, not merely slogans or futile commissions, one after another. However, Muslims also need to undergo thorough introspection, to try to comprehend why they are at loggerheads with Christians, Hindus and Buddhists be it in India, Europe, Thailand, Palestine or Nigeria. As a matter of fact many more Muslims are killed by other Muslims whether in Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan in one year than have been killed over the course of 10 years by Hindus in India.
Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
My native India would do well to note what Fareed Zakaria has boldly pointed out, and what I have sadly noticed ever since India became independent, that patronage and corruption have plagued its political system. The new generation of leaders should seek to replace it with professionalism and competence. Otherwise India will not be able to fight terrorism. Zakaria has also noted that "the Pakistan government has created, supported and trained Islamic jihadists for decades." And given the principle of religious intolerance on which Pakistan was created, it will naturally continue to remain a basic and enduring problem.
Wappingers Falls, New York
Fareed Zakaria's reactions to the terrorist assault on Mumbai are made especially powerful by his personal and familial connections with the Taj Mahal Hotel and its neighborhood. For the same reason, however, his observation that Muslims in India "are underrepresented at every economic, political and social level" is striking in what it omits. They are greatly overrepresented at the lowest level.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Best Western Weighs In
We must correct your Dec. 15 article "The Rise of Black-Market Data." It references a claim made in another publication that Best Western suffered a data compromise of 8 million customer records. At the time, Best Western conducted an internal investigation and found the claim to be false. The company then engaged IBM to conduct a review of the incident; IBM confirmed Best Western's findings. Best Western treats customer-information protection seriously. We employ industry-standard best practices to secure personal information, maintain a secure network, collect only the information we need to secure reservations for our customers and dispose of it when no longer needed. We also encrypt sensitive data and restrict access to only those who require it.
Scott A. Gibson, Senior VP
Chief Information Officer
Best Western International