Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Everybody Loves a Good....

Everybody Loves a Good Drought is a disturbing and thought provoking book written way back in 1996 by P. Sainath. One could substitute drought with flood or any other cataclysmic event. Just like the telling book about hunger, Ash in the Belly, that makes you ashamed of your very existence, Everybody Loves a Drought throws light on the idiocy of what has been termed as development. In a review of the book a reviewer writes Sainath has captured an entire landscape of people for whom everyone from global agencies downwards to the mohalla politician and bureaucrat has a concern. Often this concern either gets diverted to the pockets of the local strongmen or lands up for the wrong cause. Things have not changed

17 years later the floods that have devastated Uttarkhand must be 'welcomed' by many as they will once again be able to feed on disaster like vultures. It is noteworthy that the CEO of the State rushed to the capital to secure as much funds as possible. One would have thought that he would have remained on his turf overseeing rescue operations. The tragedy was waiting to strike. For years the fragile eco system of the region has been violated in as many ways as possible. The efforts of environmentalist to get the zone declared has eco fragile was shot down by politicians. Not heeding warnings and driven by greed, the policy makers and their acolytes went on a development frenzy that blocked the natural flow of the rivers. This is something that seems to be the rule rather than the exception as we have seen in Delhi where the flood plain is brimming with construction. Another view is that the cloudburst was a natural calamity. The author writes : Humans haven't yet perfected the art of bringing rain, forget about a cloudburst! What he suggests are concrete measures that would ensure proper emergency measures should and when a natural disaster happens. Natural disasters will happen no matter what.

Believe it or not we have a  national disaster management agency headed by our PM and replete with 'specialists', experts and bureaucrats and a swanky website! A interesting and revealing post on FB gives a bird's eye view (pun intended) of the true functioning of the NDMA with a rather grand office in SDA providing sinecures to retired generals, bureaucrats and politicians. One has not heard from them at least not as one should have! However as it is pointed out in the post the members have been on junkets across the globe to 'study' disaster management! Yet when 'they' are needed one does not hear a squeak from them. As always it the Armed Forces that come to the rescue. The local administration simply crumbles.

Everyone loves a good flood and the writing is on the wall, some of it quite shameful and which shows how defunct we as a nation are of values such as compassion, empathy, kindness, humanity and all the synonyms one can think of. I was horrified and ashamed to hear of the looting pilgrims had to suffer. How can anyone take advantage of suffering and loot unabashedly and with impunity! Women have even been molested and dead bodies looted. But that is the beginning of the loot game. Like in all disasters funds will be diverted and misused as it was after the 2004 tsunami!

And that is not all. As we are in pre elections time, everyone is rearing to get as much political mileage as possible. One senior politician decided to rescue people of his state only! Absolutely unacceptable. Others are seeking as many brownie points as they can accrue. The floods did come at the right time.

Money will pour in. I hope it is not squandered or diverted as some of it is more precious than anything you can imagine like the 20 000 Rs donated by the rag pickers of four states!

Some compassion still exists, albeit in the heart of the poorest. Maybe it is time we learnt from them.








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