22 months has passed since terrorists held the Taj Hotel in Mumbai (and the entire nation as they watched in horror) hostage to one of the most heinous acts of terrorism in India. 22 months since 173 people martyred, hundreds injured, and crores of property destroyed. 22 months and still no justice for the victims.
But one man has done what the politicians, the media and the law could not do – restore a semblance of dignity and hope to the victims. Ratan Tata – a giant among men, an icon in the business world, and a great humanitarian. When his HR team brought forth a proposal on what the Tata Group could do to compensate the victims (an amazing list by itself), Ratan Tata asked – “Are you sure we are doing enough?”
Enough Mr. Tata? You got to be kidding right? In a nation that treats its politicians and actors as Gods, citizens as dust, and citizen rights as negligible as the fly in your khichidi, you are indeed a beacon of hope. I am not going to recount the entire list here, but present 3 cases (The Week – October 3, 2010 – The Cover Story – “Healing Touch” and “Wah Taj”) that moved me, and let you imagine the comprehensive program the Tata group has implemented not just for its employees who were affected by the attack, but to even the “pav-bhaji” vendor across the street.
- Manoj Thakur, 29, was working at a roadside shop when the firing at Leopold Cafe injured him. He got Rs 5000 from the Taj Public Service Welfare Trust (set up within days of the 26/11 attack by the Tata Group) for six months, and then got a job as a waiter at the Taj President in Colaba, Mumbai. His children’s education is taken care of by the Trust. So is his wife’s higher education.
- Diagnosed with terminal illness while being treated for injuries sustained by the taxi blast, Shyamsundar, 36, was given Rs 10,000 for a year, and his entire medical bills are being paid by the Trust.
- This is not to say the Trust forgot employees of the Taj who died in the attack. The families of these 12 employees will get the last drawn salary as long as the spouse is alive. This is apart from the lump sum amount (in lakhs) paid to the family, free education for their children, and complete medical insurance.
The list goes on. Ratan Tata and his company has touched the lives of every victim of this attack, and ensured their families get to live a life of relative peace and security.
True, none of these efforts will undo the work of the terrorists on 26th November in Mumbai. None of these efforts will bring back the dead. But these efforts are bringing back hope. Hope, that in a nation of cynical, corrupt leaders, there is someone who cares. Beyond borders. Beyond doubt.
If there is one quality that separates terrorists from people like you and me, it is a feeling of hopelessness. When you lose hope in the system, in yourself, and in your God, that is when you decide your fellow human beings are not worth the air they breathe.
But what the terrorist forgets is that when they kill someone, they are not killing a Hindu or a Muslim, or an Indian or an American, but a son, a father, a husband, a brother and a human being filled with hope, dreams and aspirations for his family.
This blog is dedicated to Mr. Ratan Tata and the Tata Group of companies. For caring. For showing those terrorists that while they can destroy lives and property, they cannot destroy hope.
Up yours, Mr. Terrorist.
(Unfortunately I could not get an online version of the print articles, but did find the above link that comes close to what the Tata Group is doing for the victims and their families.)