“9/11” and all that
Y P Chhibbar
The whole month of September the Print media and the Electronic media has been publishing/airing stories revolving round the terror attack on the World Trade Centre twin buildings in New York in 2001. “9/11” has become an international icon and design to represent terror attacks. So much so that we in India also started writing the date of terror attack on Mumbai trains in the same design, i.e., “7/11”. This affords us a clinical case to demonstrate that intellectual freedom becomes subverted by subtle influences.
It did not occur to our channels and newspapers that we in India do not write the date like this. When we date a letter or a cheque as “11th July” we would write it as 11/7. Our practice is that we write the date first, followed by the month, followed by the year (DD/MM/YYYY). But in mentioning the terror attack on Mumbai trains our media blindly copied the American practice. This created confusion in the minds of those who have not been in touch with American culture and practices.
Interestingly, people have pointed out that the date September 11 has significance in history in many other ways also. In 1803, on September 11 the British are said to have fought two important battles with the Marathas at a place where the NOIDA golf course stands today and at a place what is today known as Patparganj in East Delhi. This was the second anglo-Maratha war (1). On September 11, 1893 Swami Vivekanand addressed a meeting of religious figures in Chicago, USA, drawing attention to the consequences of sectarianism, bigotry, and fanaticism (2). On September 11, 1906 the Indian community in Johannesburg in South Africa was addressed by one Hazi Habib exhorting it to follow the call of Ahimsaa and Satyaagrah given by Mohandas Gandhi (3). One of the blackest drama of imperialism was enacted on September 11, 1973 when the democratically elected President of Chile, Salvader Allende, was overthrown by the army generals aided and abetted by USA (4).
Such is the sweep of intellectual imperialism that a subaltern country's the whole thought process falls into the pattern of the world power centre unknowingly and our freedom of thought becomes subverted by the slogan of “Internationalisation”.
1 Varun Sinha, “India’s forgotten 9/11: In 1803, Delhi fell to British forces”, The Indian Express (Express Newsline), 11th September 2006.
2 Venu Madhav Govendu and Deepak Malghan, “The other 9/11”, The Hindu, September 10, 2006, Magazine section, page 4.