Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Need of the hour

Even as the nation is yet to come to terms with tragedies that hit us within a few weeks’ time, it makes one relook at how ill-prepared we are to face such natural or man-made disasters.

The cloudburst on 16 June washed away from Uttarakhand lives of many people- snapping the backbone of a state, its infrastructure, into several pieces. The floods turned the once bustling cities into ghost-towns that need to be re-built carefully to return them to their former glory.
While the loss of human lives is irreplaceable, the aftermath of the floods is enormous with the economy of the region- which was held together by together- suffering immensely. The state, at present, might have been pushed back by a couple of years on the development front.
As the nation was somber with the Uttarakhand floods, it took another blow which came in the form of blasts at the Mecca of Buddhist pilgrimage, Bodh Gaya.

While elements in politics continue to politicize the matters by playing the blame game, it does make one introspect the system of which we are a part. The question is about the timing. It is about how well and how fast can action be taken whenever we are sounded off on a mishap.

Natural or man-made disaster strike without notice; the question remains why we are unprepared to deal with disasters—to forewarn people, handle the crisis and to rehabilitate the affected.

Every time we have a disaster, exacerbated by human mismanagement of the environment, we are caught on the wrong foot. Worse, government agencies make every possible excuse to shift blame. In all this, we lose precious human lives. Talking about Uttarakhand floods, we know that Himalaya, the world’s youngest mountain range is prone to almost all natural disaster. Therefore, clearly this is a spot, which needed attention and focus. But none came its way. Disaster management demands, firstly, scientific knowledge to understand and map our vulnerability. But the fact is that we do little to plan and prepare ahead.

What’s standing tall amidst the ruins and chaos of these disasters is the resilience of Indian spirit, a key factor that helps in re-building and soothing the wound. In the time of natural disaster or man-made calamities what is needed is a coherent and visible strategy to help people. The plan should not be driven by politics but the desire to help those who are affected by it and not for political gains. In current case, the priority should be the relief efforts without pandering to political leaders who will often do little beyond conduct aerial surveys. Disasters aren’t about how much each leader has done but how many lives are saved.

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