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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Mumbai – one year on from the attacks

November 25th, 2009
06:30 PM ET

On the streets at the time, the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai left one feeling that the city would never be the same. India would not be the same. 

Mourners paint artwork on a kilometer-long wall of tribute dedicated to the victims of the attacks.
Mourners paint artwork on a kilometer-long wall of tribute dedicated to the victims of the attacks.

A common mood sloshed through every alley, a rising, indignant anger: enough was enough, something needed to change. Commentators called the attacks India’s 9/11: a time when the world stopped still, shocked at the horrors of humanity.

I’ve always believed the 9/11 analogy was not entirely correct. Unlike the U.S., India has had a long history of terrorism, random attacks engineered by a variety of adversaries and carried out by often faceless operatives.

In 2008 itself there were attacks in the cities of Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Guwahati, and more. But what was truly ominous about comparing the Mumbai attacks to New York’s in 2001 was the expectation of a comparable government response.

A few days after the attacks I went with a CNN crew to a protest rally in Mumbai. Tens of thousands of Mumbaikars attended, venting their anger. Some of it was against politicians; most of it was against Pakistan. The mob was made up of young college students and professionals. Emboldened by their numbers, they demanded action. “Galli galli mein shor hai, Pakistan chor hai!” they shouted, roughly translating to: On every street, people are crying: Pakistan is a rogue country! On televisions, countless pundits insisted that this was India’s 9/11. And they expected a matching response from the government – against Pakistan.

Indian investigators have since laid out a mountain of evidence showing the attackers came from across the border, from the Pakistani province of Punjab. But it wasn’t clear who the anger in India was directed at: the Pakistan government and its inability (or in the protestors’ minds, unwillingness, or worse) to rein in the terrorists, or whether it was directed at the terrorists themselves who happened to be Pakistani. But there is no doubt that much diplomatic ire has been directed at Islamabad for failing to crack down on militants suspected of attacks in India. Finally today, one year later, Pakistan has charged seven men over the Mumbai attacks; they allegedly belong to the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba militant group.

A year on, where does India stand?

Given the immense internal pressure, it’s a marvel that the government rejected the notion of a military response. Elections were afoot; there was political mileage to be made. And yet by and large the public hysteria died down after a while. But India is right in pushing Pakistan to get its house in order.

Here’s a 9/11 analogy that works better: the main two hotels under attack in Mumbai – the Oberoi and the Taj – were symbolically the twin towers of Mumbai’s upper-class fabric.

But in 2009, the real terror story in India has been playing out far away from the corridors of finance, glitz, and glamor. Maoist rebels today operate in 223 districts, spread out across one-third of the country. The area is called the ‘Red Corridor’, where the rebels, known as Naxalites, routinely attack symbols of power. They orchestrate bombings, robberies, kidnappings, and massacres. The South Asia Terrorism Portal’s data shows these rebels have been responsible for 800+ civilians deaths so far this year – more than four times as many as those killed in the Mumbai attacks.

One year on, perhaps the greatest lesson to take away from the Mumbai attacks is this: defeat or victory can't be gauged by the success of a terror attack; it is determined by the response. In the end, India reacted responsibly to Mumbai – by pushing for investigations and justice, and by avoiding a reckless military response. It's important to recognize that combatting terrorism - be it from an internal or external source - requires a more nuanced approach than just fighting fire with fire.

Writing on the Wall

July 1st, 2009
12:24 PM ET

On Monday's show CTW took a special look at graffiti around the world. Take a look below.

What are your thoughts? Is graffiti a big problem where you are? Tell us! Leave a comment below or write to us at ConnectTheWorld@CNN.com

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Filed under:  General • Video

Cultures meld on a plate

April 23rd, 2009
05:01 PM ET

This was a really fun segment we planned for Connect the World. It's amazing how a plate of food has an intricate story to tell, a tale of journeys, adaptation, invention, and nostalgia. Take a look below. We'll have more of these segments coming up on the show in the next few weeks.

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Filed under:  General • Video

Tonight's the night!

April 20th, 2009
11:25 AM ET

LONDON, England - After months of planning and weeks of rehearsals, here we are. Eight hours from now, Connect the World will go on air.

The Connect team puts the finishing touches on the show.
The Connect team puts the finishing touches on the show.

I know you'll join us on air tonight, but we wish you could feel the buzz in the newsroom right now:  It's electric; the excitement is very palpable.

As of this writing, we have absolutely no idea what our lead will be.  A Connects lead has to have legs that take it around the world.  Let's see what happens.

Back to work, and monitoring the news wires - join us for the launch, we promise it'll be exciting, unique, and entertaining.  Stay connected!

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Filed under:  General
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