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Sumit Ganguly
India Studies Institute

Jamsheed K. Choksy
Central Eurasian Studies

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Last modified: Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Media advisory: Two India experts at IU available to discuss Mumbai attacks

Nov. 26, 2008

EDITORS: Today (Nov. 26), terrorists conducted coordinated attacks in India's commercial capital, Mumbai, targeting at least two five-star hotels, the city's largest commuter train station, a historic movie theater and a hospital. Two experts at Indiana University are available now to offer their perspectives:

Sumit Ganguly, director of the India Studies Institute, professor of political science and holder of the Rabindranath Tagore Professorship in Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University, can be reached at: 812-340-3148 (mobile), 812-331-1745 (home) or

"This is the first major attack using automatic weapons and hand grenades since the attack on the Indian parliament on Dec. 13, 2001. This was an attack on a highly affluent area, which shows its brazeness," Ganguly said. "It also was carefully orchestrated because they struck at multiple locations.

"Mumbai is India's financial and entertainment capital, so there could be profound repurcussions for some time," Ganguly added. "The impact on the city's economy will depend on how the government handles the crisis. It could potentially have a chilling effect on business in India since Mumbai is a leading commercial hub, which obviously was an aim of the attackers.

"If the government caves in to the demands of the terrorists and the terrorists succeed in obtaining safe passage, it will convince large numbers of people that the city is unsafe. The government has to be absolutely resolute in dealingwith the terrorists.

"It was significant that the attackers sought out Britishers and Americans during their attack on the hotels. There is a substantial British expatriate community in Mumbai and a growing number of Americans who work there. So it is not trivial that this affluent area was targeted in this fashion. It conveys a message that even the wealthy are not immune," Ganguly said. "I hope that security forces are successful in apprehending some of the perpetrators, in order to ascertain their origins and intentions. Otherwise, it will be difficult to determine who to prosecute and how to break up the network which supported these people."

Jamsheed K. Choksy

Jamsheed K. Choksy

Print-Quality Photo

Jamsheed K. Choksy, professor of Central Eurasian studies, history and India studies, can be reached at 317-535-4112 (home), 812-855-8643 (office) or

"The deplorable attacks in India seem to be directed at one of the most vibrant economies in Asia, an economy and country with major links to the West, and specifically at the commercial center of that economy -- the city of Mumbai or Bombay," said Choksy, who also is a member of the U.S. National Council on the Humanities.

"The targets seem to have been chosen to inflict maximum terror on business and tourist travelers from the West, Middle East, Asia and from within India itself through attacks on well known hotels," Choksy said. The intent seems to be "to intimidate the local population through attacks on major forms of transportation, including the railway station through which thousands of middle class Indians journey to and from work every day, and through the targeting of popular gathering spots where persons of all nationalities and backgrounds mingle each day.

"I last stayed in the Taj Palace hotel, in the corner that appears to be burning now, during July and August when conducting research and lecturing in Mumbai," he added.