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India's deadly terror attacks: What happens when the spotlight fades?

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“They should at least take care of the health and education costs comprehensively. These are the areas that are making families most vulnerable,” says Jacquleen Joseph, associate professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai.

Her group of researchers have set up a model program to help the survivors of the Nov. 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks using money donated by the Taj Public Service Welfare Trust.

The program works with the families of those lost in terror attacks over the long-term, helping to pay for skill training and the setup of small enterprises that will restore economic security. They also offer therapeutic groups and organize health camps tailored around the services needed by the survivors.

None of this happened for the Dass family.

At first, reporters, politicians, neighbors, and perfect strangers paid many visits. The politicians promised financial help. The state gave 750,000 rupees ($16,250) for daughter-in-law Sunita Micheal and grandson Alvin Micheal, but nothing for their son Micheal since his body was never found. The money went into a fixed deposit that Manisha will receive when she turns 18 in 2015.

Few people in India have insurance or retirement benefits, relying instead on family in the absence of social safety nets. When breadwinners in a family get killed in high-profile deaths, the government will then step in to provide some assistance.

The standard government response of offering large lump sums like the Dass family received is not sufficient, argues Joseph. In order to access the money quickly, many families take out loans against – and lose a significant portion to – interest payments. Families don’t always know how to handle the money well and sometimes bicker over it.

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