NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: 10 DAYS ON..

— Well, 10 days on, and Nepal has failed to reach all affected areas. Death toll is around 7500. The injured count is reaching around 15000. In a village, Nepali police and volunteers found bodies of around 100 trekkers and villagers and they were looking for more. And there are many more villages like this where help is reaching slowly. According to a report in Reuters – “The bodies were recovered on Saturday and Sunday at the Langtang village, 60 kilometers (40 miles) north of Kathmandu, which is on a trekking route popular with Westerners. The entire village, which includes 55 guesthouses for trekkers, was wiped out by the avalanche, officials said.” So, we got the news on Monday of something that happened on Saturday and Sunday. We can expect the difficulties in reaching out the people and villages there. Local volunteers and police personnel are digging through six-feet (deep) snow with shovels looking for more bodies.”

— The extent of damage remains vague, based on the assessment so far. It will take a long time as some 14 cities are badly affected from April 25 earthquake. The United Nations says of 11 cities with overall projection of 39 cities and 8 million people. While assessing the scale of destruction, Nepal will simultaneously have to engage in rehabilitation and reconstruction work.

— Different estimates vary from US$ 2 billion to US$ 10 billion but real extent of damage could come out to be even higher, straining Nepal’s economy that is just around US$ 20 billion. The Nepali government has reassessed its extent of damage, from US$ 2 billion to US$ 10 billion, but it is still a conservative one.

— Some impendent experts accuse Nepal government of ignorance. According to them, the final death-toll could be around 30,000. A Swiss expert even projects it to be around 100,000. Whatever be the final figures, they are likely, logically likely, to be much higher than the figures quoted by the ministers and spokespersons of Nepal.

— 34 countries that were involved in search, rescue and relief operations in Nepal have been asked to leave. Of the 75 teams, half have left Nepal by this evening. Overall, over 4000 aid workers were engaged in Nepal with India having the largest contingent. According to a report by the Hindustan Times, 962 aid workers were sent by India followed by China’s 370 and Israel’s 286. The same report says of around 700 foreign medical workers in Nepal.

— India has led by setting example. There was round the clock overage of Nepal’s earthquake and Indian efforts in the aftermath. Of all the expert personnel there, National Disaster Response Force had the largest group. Naturally, Indian media highlighted Indian efforts there. Some saw it as ‘glorification’ of a crisis. So, at a time, when rehabilitation and reconstruction should be on the mind, Nepal has asked all the countries involved in rescue efforts to leave Nepal.

— This order comes by a government that had expressed its inability on the very day of the disaster that it would not be able to meet the needs of the aftermath of this devastating earthquake, the biggest one in 81 years, after the Nepal-Bihar earthquake of 1934.

— After 10 days, there are no hopes of finding survivors anymore. Yes, some miracles, like have been happening, my happen, but overall, it’s about reconstructing the affected regions now.

— Nepal”s weak political system that is learning to stand on its own is preparing for the ‘relief stage’ now, the next phase. They have to rehabilitate millions, some 8 million out Nepal’s total population of 28 million, and it is to be done on war-scale. Now, what commitment they shows only time can tell.

— Monsoon is approaching. Regular rains are few weeks away. Nepal have to remove tons of rubble, form its urban areas and its towns and villages. Machinery and equipments are needed and Nepal has appealed for the same and India is sending its team.

— Nepal will be tasted here. It has to start the rebuilding process amid allegations of corruption, partiality and insensitivity in relief distribution. Nepal has appealed for relief teams and foreign workers engaged in relief operations can continue to stay. India is sending an engineering team with equipments to clear the rubble. Hope ‘Nepal asking the rescue teams to leave its soil’ was in good faith and the help will continue.

— Nepal has said most of the aid promised by the world community, by different countries and aid organizations, is yet to reach the relief fund of Nepal’s prime minister. Nepal needs relief material needed for everyday life – food, water, shelter, medicine, finances – for rehabilitation and reconstruction work. And Nepal needs them in loads as said by Nepal’s Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey – “We need huge (amounts of) relief material to address the woes of thousands, including funds for rebuilding, reconstruction and relocation of thousands of structures and displaced people.” (According to a report in the Hindustan Times)

— Today is Buddha Purnima and Nepal figured in the speech by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. According to a report on India Today’s website, he said – “Today is a special day, yet we feel a bit burdened. That is because Nepal, a land we all love, is facing difficulty. Nepal is going through a very difficult time right now. Buddha taught us compassion. We should share the pain and wipe the tears of people of Nepal. The birthplace of Lord Buddha, our beloved Nepal is going through a massive crisis. It is difficult to imagine how long and arduous this journey will be. We should share the pain of people of Nepal. Let us pray to Lord Buddha that they get new strength.”

— A peace prayer was also organized in Kathmandu, in Swyambunath temple. Some of the Buddhist stupas surrounding the 5th Century temple are damaged in the earthquake. People gathered there to pray for Nepal and pray for the humanity that is having difficult time there.

— According to a report in Reuters, Mount Everest remains opened for scaling the world’s highest peak in spite of the massive earthquake on April 25. The report said – “Mount Everest remains open to climbers, a senior official at Nepal’s tourism department said on Monday, despite avalanches after last month’s devastating earthquake destroyed much of the established route to the summit of the world’s highest peak.”

— But the Sherpas, on whom the responsibility lies, have refused to rebuild the route. According to a report in the Associated Press, they don’t think there is enough time left to scale the peak now. The report says – “Sherpas in Nepal have refused to rebuild a climbing route on Mount Everest that was destroyed by an earthquake-triggered avalanche more than one week ago, a decision which will likely end this year’s climbing season.”

— That brings an effective end to climbing season this year, which is till May. Though the Nepal government has said it will clear the southern route for climbers by the next week, it is clear that Sherpas are not buying it. Last year also, Nepal had to close the climbing season early due to an avalanche that had killed 16 Sherpas. China has already blocked the northern route from Tibet. So far, around 20 bodies have been rescued from the Everest base camp area and scores are still missing.

— According to a report in The Guardian, 3/4th of the buildings in Kathmandu are unsafe. The report says – “Assessments of 2,500 buildings carried out by more than 1,000 local engineers during the last four days have revealed that a fifth are no longer habitable and three-quarters need repairs before they can be considered safe.”

— According to the same report, officials figures say, so far, 153,000 buildings are devastated and 170,000 have suffered severe damage. And the surveys have not yet reached the rural areas.

— Nepal continues to face aftershocks. People still prefer living outdoor than going back to their homes, if they are at all habitable. And it goes with the line that Kathmandu look like a refugee camp bustling with people, the victims and aid workers and the whole of the affected region looks like having ghost towns.

Related post:
NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON MAY 3
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/05/03/nepal-earthquake-updates-so-far-on-may-3/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON MAY 3

— On the 9th day of April 25 earthquake, the official death toll crossed 7000 mark. The injured count has already crossed 14000 mark.

— A Swiss expert today said the death toll would reach around 26000. It can reach even 100,000. The expert called the Nepal ministers ignorant.

— Given the extent of damage so far and the severity of the quake, the figures quoted by the Swiss expert look within limits.

— The final figures, of dead, of injured, of displaced and homeless, are expected to be much higher than what we hear now. Dead and injured would run in many thousands and much higher. Displaced and homeless would be in millions.

— Its nine days already but there are remote towns and villages where relief is yet to reach. Bad weather, rains, poor infrastructure and a downed connectivity through roads and communication means are hampering relief work and delaying the aid teams’ access to such areas.

— Though there are no hopes of survivors now, miraculous stories of survival are still there, like three were pulled out of rubble alive after surviving eight days there or a 101-year old man was saved today.

— According to the Nepal police, overall 54 foreigners are killed. 38 of them are Indians. 82 are still missing while 48 are injured. The figures look quite conservative given other estimates that say around 1000 Europeans are still missing in Nepal or estimates that say there were around 300,000 foreigners in Nepal when the quake struck.

— The extent of damage would badly strain the impoverished nation. Nepal says, based on estimates so far, US$ 2 billion is needed. Independent experts including the experts talk of a much higher figure, around US$ 10 billion. The real cost of rehabilitation and reconstruction could be much higher than this. Moreover, it would be an act of coordinated efforts spread over the years.

— Nepal is getting overwhelming support from the world community with India leading the pack. Its Operation Maitri is working day and night, right and within few hours of the earthquake, to help people and the country. Nothing can suffice the loss of human lives but what Nepal is getting in response is beating all expectations. And Nepal’s global goodwill is playing a good role in it.

— Now, it is Nepal’s responsibility that it ensures uniformity in relief distribution. And that is not happening. People are complaining and protesting. They are clashing with Nepal’s officials for relief material. They allege that influential people are cornering the aid. They are also alleging that government is partial and insensitive. There are voices alleging that government is distributing aid to the families with dead members but is doing nothing for the families who have lost all but a family-member. A village just few Kms of Kathmandu has not received any aid so far even if no house is left there.

— The cities lying on highways through Kathmandu, one to India, and one to China, wear a deserted look. They look like ghost towns. Aid is slowly reaching them but is not enough.

— According to the United Nations, around 160,000 houses are completely gone and some 600,000 houses are significantly damaged. The UN says around 8 million people are affected from this earthquake and around 2 million immediately need food and water. UNICEF says around one million children need immediate assistance. The figures are bound to be higher than the UN estimates.

— With Monsoon approaching fast, Nepal is staring at another epidemic, after this earthquake, i.e., the one induced by diseases. There are not enough hospitals for patients. Government has said of immediate disposal of dead-bodies from rubble. Compromised sanitation and hygiene practices in tents in Kathmandu and across Nepal are giving rise to stench and are in urgent need of cleaning acts.

— Nepal continued to have aftershocks, avalanches and landslides. People continue to prefer open spaces. They are stressed and traumatized and continued aftershocks are forcing them to remain outside.

— Nepal today closed its main runway for big jets that include military planes, cargo aircrafts and large commercial aircrafts carrying aid material after it found the runway having cracks. Only medium sized runways are allowed. But the UN said that the logistics situation has improved on an overall basis.

— After the UN complained, Nepal eased customs duty on aid material. That have improved their availability (from till yesterday) to the intended population segments.

Related post:
NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON MAY 2

https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/nepal-earthquake-updates-so-far-on-may-2/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON MAY 2

— It’s over a week now, 8th day of a massive tragedy that struck Nepal, an impoverished nation that is counted among the least developed, killing around 7000 and injuring over 14000. Many remote areas are still unreachable. Houses in the worst affected regions are completely flattened. Scores are still missing and the final figure after search, rescue and relief operation is expected to be much higher.

— According to a The Guardian report, Nepal’s customs laws are working as hindrance in the effective distribution of the relief material. Material is piled up at Tribhuvan airport but is not reaching the intended people. Nepal is pleading for food materials to be used for cooking, and not instant noodles and biscuits. It is also requesting the world community for tents and tarpaulin sheets which it made tax-free yesterday only. Responsible people of the Nepal government, who in the very beginning said that they would not be able to meet the needs after the disaster if the international help didn’t come, have, so far, failed to streamline the process of distribution.

— Aftermath of the quake is one of the many inept responses of the Nepali government. Government apathy and administrative corruption allowed Kathmandu to be an unorganized mess. And now, such factors are in play even here. It is hard to believe when The Guardian reports that a village just 26 Kms west of Kathmandu, Chhatrepati (in Dhading district) is yet to receive the relief material. The Guardian quotes the residents of the village where every house if severely damaged in the earthquake.

— While the international response has been overwhelming, many thousands of Nepalis are now a disgruntled lot. And that is because of the Nepal government only. Things needed for relief were to be exempted from the tax-regime of the country much ago, when the earthquake struck with a severe blow, but the ‘responsible’ people are still issuing advisories after being reminded of.

— While there are no houses, families of the victims who lost their family-members in the earthquake are getting tents and tarpaulin sheets or priority basis. But the people who have lost all, except anyone from the family, are not getting the same treatment from the government.

— Allegations of corruption and nepotism in relief work are increasing by the day. People with influential ties are cornering the relief material while many in the need are left behind.

— Teams are yet to reach many mountainous reasons in the interior of Nepal. These places have seen some airdropping of relief material but earthquake has isolated such regions from the world, cutting road ties and snapping communication infrastructure. Even miraculous stories of survival would not be expected from such places after so many days. What we wish for is speedy rehabilitation and reconstruction process in universal terms, and not in Nepal’s ways.

— In many districts, infrastructure of schools, hospitals and other basic civic amentias are so wiped out that reconstruction will take long and it is going to be a challenge for the administration to restart the comatose process.

— Hospitals, health-centers and make-shift medical units are overflowing with people and there are valid fears of an epidemic, induced by different diseases. Kathmandu, that is expected to see maximum deaths in a single place due to its unorganized mess, looks like a big refugee camp of many small units. And stench of human faces and urine are common from these ‘small units’.

— Government needs to acts fast on such valid concerns as Monsoon rains are just around the corner. Government also needs to factor in the psychological well-being of the people while requesting them to move to normalcy. They are traumatized and continued aftershocks have made them believe that returning to their houses will take long, probably after Monsoon. According to the UNICEF, the government has ‘a small window of time for rescuers to make arrangements to protect people from a disease-induced epidemic’.

— Nepal continued to have tremors of aftershocks today, like every other day. It is scientifically projected that Nepal would continue to feel aftershocks for months to come. Two aftershocks recorded today were of 5.1 and 4.5 in magnitude.

— Along with aftershocks and bad weather, that also includes rains, landslides and avalanches are further hampering the R&R work, especially in rural areas.

Related post:
NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON MAY 1
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/nepal-earthquake-updates-so-far-on-may-1/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON MAY 1

— Death toll in Nepal is nearing 6,500 while there are around 15000 injured. We can assess so given the confirmed official figures for dead and injured are 6,250 and 14,357 respectively. Like earlier said, it does not include many in remote towns and villages where aid is either trickling down or has not reached at all.

— The final figures, which will take time, are expected to be in many thousands and much larger than what we are talking now. In 1934 earthquake in Nepal-Bihar, from which Nepal learnt no lessons, there were very few people in the valley around Kathmandu, and even in Kathmandu. Then, Nepal did not have a global tourist attraction in the form of Mount Everest and the regions around it for trekking and climbing. That has changed in 2015. Kathmandu, along with its valley is an unorganized mess of people and constructions.

— Mount Everest and nearby areas around it are expected to be opened next week for climbing and trekking. China has closed the northern way up for this climbing season. Let’s see if the climbers return. If that happens, that would be a precious source of earning for Nepal in these circumstances.

— So far, around 19 bodies of climbers and sherpas have been recovered. Many have been rescued from Mount Everest area. Scores are still missing.

— The United Nations said just US$ 53 million out of its appealed US$ 415 million were collected till Friday. It is worrisome. Though Nepal is said to getting overwhelming international support with India leading the search, rescue and relief missions, the world needs to do more for this impoverished nation that has seen a prolonged monarchy and a protracted Maoist struggle. The democratic Nepal was just beginning is to take steps when the devastating earthquake happened.

— According to the UN estimates, around 3 million immediately need food and water. Overall, around 8 million people are affected. Some 70,000 houses are gone and around 600,000 have suffered extensive damage.

— According to its official estimates, that is preliminary in nature and is bound to go up, Nepal needs US$ 2 billion for rehabilitation and reconstruction work. The extent of damage goes up to US$ 10 billion according to the US Geological Survey, around half of Nepal’s annual GDP.

— It has to be an extensive process, spread over the years, and much depends on how Nepal mobilizes the international support and how it exploits the internal rescores available in the years to come.

— At the time of the 7.8 earthquake on April 24, some 300,000 foreign tourists including Indians were in Nepal. Many have been evacuated. Many are waiting. Many are still missing. The European Union said today that around 1000 Europeans are still missing in Nepal.

— India has so far evacuated around 15000 through air and road-routes via Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand. It has helped other countries as well, evacuating nationals of some 14 countries and issuing them free visa.

— India cleared today it was there in Nepal with its full force but was acting secondary to Nepal. Nepal was leading the rescue and relief operations. India is helping Nepal as a big, watchful brother with its disaster experts and relief personnel, even if it rains.

— India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and its National Security Advisor Ajit Doval were in Nepal today. They took stock of the situation about R&R operations. They also made an aerial survey of the most damaged area.

— Nepal has its granaries full, as its minster says. But there are no people to take trucks to remote towns and villages. They have gone back to help their families in this disaster and the government is facing a cumbersome task. There are protests and clashes on delay of R&R operations in areas where aid is not reaching.

— Most of the people staying outside continue to do so. Kathmandu looks like a refugee camps these days. And it is expected to be so till the Monsoon rains arrive. People are expected to persist even in that. Morgues are full and the government has ordered immediate cremation of bodies. Affected regions look like ghost towns with relief material where only airdropping is possible and with personnel and relief material where people can reach anyhow.

— Updates on India’s efforts so far –taken from a TOI report – Indian agencies have launched “Operation Maitri”, under which india is providing 280 tonnes of relief materials, including clean drinking water, milk, biscuits, noodles, essential medicines, tents, blankets, tarpaulin and plastic sheets. In addition, two field hospitals, 18 army medical teams, 18 engineering teams, one IAF rapid action medical team, and excavator and earth moving equipment have been flown into Kathmandu and Pokhara in 28 sorties by C-17 Globe Master, IL-76 and C-130 aircraft. Indian states bordering Nepal have extended assistance in rescue and relief efforts through the land route. Sixteen NDRF teams are working with the Nepalese security agencies and have saved 11 lives and retrieved 121 bodies from various places in Kathmandu, the Unesco World Heritage Sites of Patan, Bhaktapur and Swayambhu and historic Dharahara tower.  Three army medical teams have been deployed at Barpak village, the epicentre of the earthquake in the Gorkha district of Nepal. A 39-member Indian Army team currently at the Everest Base Camp has voluntarily remained there to assist people, including stranded tourists and climbers. Indian helicopters have delivered 100 tonnes of relief material in various districts of Nepal, including Gorkha, Dhading, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchowk, Rasuwa and Ramechhap. A team from Power Grid Corporation of India is jointly working with Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) in restoring power supplies in different parts of Nepal. They have jointly restored three sub-power stations in the Kathmandu Valley and are working to restore more.”

Related post:
NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON APRIL 30
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/nepal-earthquake-updates-so-far-on-april-30/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MAY DAY OR NO MAYDAY: RAHUL IS MAKING NEWS FOR GOOD REASONS THESE DAYS

“Today we pay tribute to the millions of workers whose hard work, sweat and tears have gone into building our nation. No country can aspire to greatness without ensuring that the people who build the nation are partners in its prosperity and success. That those who work in our factories, in our fields, at our construction sites, in our mines and in enterprises big and small across our country are assured dignity of labour and a decent quality of life. That their children too have opportunities to choose the life they want to live, and a chance to excel and prosper. Let us renew our resolve today to strive for an India in which every citizen rich or poor, farmer and labourer, irrespective of the circumstance of their birth can hold their head high and live and work with dignity and honour.”

Rahul Gandhi said this today, on May Day, on Labour’s Day, or on International Workers’ Day. And while saying so, he extended the revival plank of his party, the Indian National Congress, of being pro-poor and fighting for the cause of the farmer.

He is on an India tour these days, protesting the land bill ordinance. In his meetings and outreach programmes, he alleges the Narendra Modi’s government of being anti-poor and anti-farmer. He is alleging that the Narendra Modi’s government is pro-corporate interests and is working to usurp the rights and land of farmers and the poor of this country. He is saying that the ordinance route was taken as the government was not sure of its chances in the Parliament.

Yesterday, he was in Vidarbha, the place of Kalavati and Shashikala and countless others; the place where Rahul ate at Kalavati’s house in May 2008 (in Yavatmal’s Jalka village) and mentioned her later in his famous speech in the Indian Parliament during the trust-vote Manmohan Singh’s government.

He trekked 15 Kms of it. He is there to reach out to farmers and poor. Unseasonal rains have destroyed crops in around 2 lakh hectares, as the government data show. The real figure is expected to be higher, like the farmer suicides, over 1000 this year, in affected regions across 14 states. Some states like Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have seen many farm suicides in these months.

And the National Democratic Alliance’s government has already re-promulgated a land ordinance that is vociferously opposed by the political opposition as well as some allied within the government.

A changed Rahul sees an opportunity here – of Congress’ revival – and of taking on Bhartiya Janata Party.

Yes, a changed Rahul Gandhi.

Post his latest sabbatical, Rahul looks politically active and more aggressive. And the BJP is taking it seriously, hitting back. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s response in the Indian Parliament yesterday can be seen this way. Firstpost quoted him saying – “Yeh sujh-bujh ki sarkar hai, isme koi galat fahmi nahi rahe (this is a government of solutions, there should be no misconception about this). Booted hona better hai. Booted out hona khatarnak hai (It is better to be booted. Getting booted out is very dangerous). Yesterday there was criticism (by Rahul) against the Prime Minister that he spends time abroad. At least we know where he is. Is India taller in the community of nations today than it was a few years ago or not? I was surprised when I read over the last few days that compared to the developed world, whether it was Iraq or it was Yemen or Nepal today, it is India which is now being considered as a global leader even in areas where we could not manage our own affairs earlier – disaster management. The Congress Party would realize when the Prime Minister of India goes abroad even for two days or three days, he performs a national duty. There is a difference between performing a national duty and disappearing for a jaunt. Therefore, you must realize the difference between the two. What is the kind of commitment to politics that you suddenly disappear for months together and then you come back and say that I will pick up an issue every day merely because it will make my presence felt.”

So, Rahul Gandhi, after his leave of absence, is more certain of his future than ever it seems. Probably, he has introspected and meditated about it.

Hope, the changed streak is there to stay – and words of his May Day speech, that are clearly backed by a pro-poor approach, should be backed by an intent that is natural.

And yes, he has to find the solution to the ‘Robert Vadra riddle’ and convince the countrymen about it. It should happen soon. There is indeed a mayday like situation there.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON APRIL 30

— On seventh day of the devastating earthquake of April 24, measuring 7.8 in intensity, the death toll is nearing 6000 while the injured count has crossed 11000 mark. Nepal army chief feared death toll could be as high as 15000. The final figure, or around it, will take days to arrive at and it is expected to be in many thousands.

— And it not just about dead and injured. Millions are left homes, displaced staying in outdoors, children alike. Many families are wiped out. Many families have family-members lost. Many families have very few or single survivors. According to the UN, some 70,000 houses are destroyed while 530,000 have suffered heavy structural damage.

— Whole of Kathmandu is looking like a refugee camp. It is dotted with tents. Teams of disaster management personnel, security apparatus, government officials, aid workers and people of Kathmandu have the combined responsibility of maintaining sanitation and hygiene. According to reports, they are failing in this because of government and because of people. Smell of human faeces and urine can be felt around relief camps of Kathmandu.

— Whole of Kathmandu valley and the affected regions of Nepal look like ghost towns. Quake epicentre in Gorkha district is totally vanished. No house is left in Barpak. There are many villages in the interior of Nepal where help is yet to reach. And whenever the aid teams reach there, their functionality would be basically about relief efforts as they would have no one to rescue anymore. Apart from some miraculous stories of survival, all would be dead by then.

— UN says 1.8 million immediately need food and water assistance. It estimates around 8 million are affected across 39 districts. 11 of it are considered severely damaged in the quake of April 24 and tremors and aftershocks after it. UN has appealed to the world community for an immediate relief of $US 415 million.

— People are protesting. Earthquake victims are clashing with police and government officials. They have no food. They have no water. The home looks frightening to the majority living out in the streets even if there is a home. Sheer frustration is leading them to block roads and relief operations blaming government of apathy and delay.

— Roads are hit with splits and cracks. Many bridges are gone. Choppers are not finding place to land in worst affected villages and remote towns and are airdropping relief materials. According to some reports, such areas need a trek of five days to reach there. The UN quotes ‘significant logistical challenges’ in reaching out to such rural areas.

— Nepal will have to work in different ways in different areas. The areas with relief camps need to see efforts towards rehabilitation and reconstruction now as Monsoon is near. The areas not yet reached need aid teams and relief work. Reaching there and providing relief should be the priority of aid teams. The UN said – Some villages can only be reached by foot with some areas taking up to four to five days to reach. Fuel to transport SAR teams (search and rescue) is limited. There is a need to prioritise restoration of communications infrastructure, casualty management and basic relief in remote areas.

— Nepal had three aftershocks today, two of them measuring 3.9 and 4.7. Nepal is expected to have aftershocks for months.

— Being a rainy day, rains hampered rescue and relief operations today.

— India is at the forefront of R&R operations in affected regions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior ministers and officials are personally looking after the work being done there. They are holding regular meetings. India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval are scheduled to visit Nepal tomorrow.

— Nepal government appealed its people to start their lives again. It has asked its employees to come to offices. Workers are told to engage in rehabilitation efforts along with day to day activity. Some shops, restaurants and casinos are opening up. Government has told shopkeepers to return to business. Banks are operating in Kathmandu. Government is working to reopen schools.

— According to a report by the Associated Press, Nepal may allow Himalayan trekking and climbing to Mount Everest if climbers do so. The report says that the climbing season may be extended to June. Traditionally, bad weather makes it difficult to ascend the world’s highest peak beyond May.

— 19 are confirmed dead here, in Everest base camp area and on the way up. Scores are missing. China has closed the northern route to the peak for Spring. The southern route from Nepal, badly damaged in the earthquake, is the popular one. According to the AP report, Nepal will be able to open it up within a week.

— China did not use its military planes to evacuate stranded Chinese. Also, India has outdone China in evacuating its nationals. Chinese PLA is being criticised for it.

— Countries have continued evacuation of their stranded nationals. So far, India has helped 15 countries in evacuating its nationals. They are being evacuated through Tribhuvan international airport in Kathmandu and through road-routes via India. Many thousand Indians are still trapped in Nepal, a religious and historical country for Hinduism.

Related post:
NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON APRIL 29
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/nepal-earthquake-updates-so-far-on-april-29/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AN ACTIVE AND AGGRESSIVE RAHUL GANDHI: HOPE THIS STREAK IS THERE TO STAY..

Let’s be political about it and let’s be politically correct about it.

And let’s be politically straightforward about it.

And being politically straightforward in this country means it needs a strong government and a strong opposition – if we go by the legislative politics and political developments of the day.

Now there is a strong government, led by Narendra Modi – the National Democratic Alliance government led by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP led government won the majority on its own, first time in 30 years – since 1984, when Rajiv Gandhi stormed to the Parliament winning 404 of the seats – riding high on the sympathy wave after Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

But there is no strong opposition. And there are no strong opposition leaders – to the stature of Narendra Modi – except very few – who can challenge Narendra Modi nationally.

And Rahul Gandhi after his recent sabbatical stands first among them.

For the time-being, he looks charged, has an agenda, and is pursuing it.

If we take different news reports in consideration, his latest sabbatical was of around two months. The world was talking about it but came to know about it officially on a Monday (February 23) when the Budget session of the Parliament began. On April 16, he returned.

Reports say many things about his sabbatical – including introspection and meditation (that included Vipassana as well).

He made news headlines during his around two-months long sabbatical. He was seen as a reluctant politician with a string of electoral failures since 2010. The aura of ‘seriousness’ around him was on the wane. But his leave of absence, shrouded in mystery, made for daily news elements.

And the good things is – his return and he himself are making for even more news elements.

And that is good for Indian politics. He is taking on the government. His politics looks like having a future now. He is speaking and interacting regularly.

Hope this streak is there to stay with an active and aggressive Rahul Gandhi.

Indian politics of the day badly needs a strong opposition and opposition leader and Rahul Gandhi can lead here. One-sided numbers of political opposition in Rajya Sabha would be of little advantage to the country until there are voices, both in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, that raise issues in a constructive way and are ready to fight back.

And the government is taking serious note of Rahul Gandhi now, readings of the political developments of the day tell us.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON APRIL 29

— Those dying in April 24 earthquake and aftershocks and tremors that have followed have crossed 5200 mark. It is expected to be around 5500 so far. Around 11000 are injured. Millions are left homeless and displaced.

— There are stories of survival and there are stories of despair. Hope they show it, but they don’t possess it. Their homes are gone. Their loved ones are gone. Some of them have survived the earthquake trapped in the rubble for four days, rubble that happened to be their houses once.

— Though there are miraculous stories of survival, like a man in Kathmandu who was pulled out of rubble after 82 hours, or like a four-month old baby in Bhaktapur who was rescued after 22 hours, but overall, affected regions of Nepal have turned into ghost towns.

— India is basing its operations in Kathmandu and Gorkha districts – the two most affected parts – in terms of human lives and destruction. The 7.8 quake’s epicentre was in Gorkha district, between Kathmandu and Pokhara, near Lamjung district.

— People are complaining that they have not received the relief material. They are complaining about the slow pace of delivery. They are behaving frustrated and irritated. They are running out of patience. They are protesting and some of them even blocked the traffic in Kathmandu to press for their demands. They are demanding water and food.

— People continue to stay outdoors in affected areas including Kathmandu. Aftershocks have continued. No major tremors in last two days. No major tremor today so far.

— The by-product practices in such circumstance like people selling their assets and properties for relief materials including food, water, medicines and possibly shelter, people looking to buy such things, goons indulged in loot and burglary and rumour-mongering are also having a run in the affected regions of Nepal these days.

— Today, banks in Kathmandu worked for few hours. ATM kiosks received the much needed money infusion. People running short of everything can breathe easy on this front – yes, only if they are carrying their cards. And yes, this is limited to Kathmandu only.

— Everest climbing season of Spring has virtually come to an end. China has closed the northern way from its side, from Tibet. No one knows when would it be reopened. The route from the southern side, the popular one, one in Nepal, is completely devastated in the quake. Bodies of around 20 climbers has been recovered so far. Scores are still missing. Scores are left injured.

To continue..

Related post:
NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON APRIL 28
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/04/28/nepal-earthquake-updates-so-far-on-april-28/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: MEANWHILE, INDIAN FARMERS CONTINUE TO COMMIT SUICIDE

Debt-ridden farmer commits suicide in Kalaburagi
The Hindu-April 28, 2015

Two more farmers commit suicide over crop loss
Daily Mail, April 28, 2015

Cotton farmer commits suicide in TN
Business Standard, April 27, 2015

Another farmer commits suicide in Haryana
Chandigarh Tribune, April 27, 2015

Ninth Rajasthan Farmer to Commit Suicide in 1 Week
NDTV, April 26, 2015

Unable to pay loan, farmer hangs self outside DM office
Indian Express, April 26, 2015

Under debt, farmer commits suicide
Chandigarh Tribune, April 25, 2015

These are also some of the headlines since Saturday from India – a Saturday when Nepal’s devastating earthquake enveloped a part of Himalayan range, including many districts of Nepal, 39 overall and 11 severely damaged, and many parts of India and some parts of other neighbouring countries – China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

It’s an unending human misery and Nepal will take long to come back to normalcy in spite of the overwhelming international aid including from India.

Farmer suicides in India are also an unending human misery and no foreign aid is coming to curb them.

Governments here, including the Union Government try to do all to the hide behind the data when it comes to farmer suicides.

Though Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has revised the estimates to 189 lakh hectares from 94 lakh hectares, many states affected have not reported farmer suicides due to unseasonal rains and the subsequent crops loss or have reported he same in highly disproportionate ways. And even the Centre, though accepting, is not attributing almost of these distress deaths due to some agrarian crisis.

The Nepal earthquake comes to the rescue of governments we can say, especially one government – Arvind Kejriwal’s government in Delhi.

Arvind Kejriwal has found himself in a trap after a farmer allegedly committed suicide in his rally. Kejriwal had launched the rally to take over the mantle of farmers’ fight against the National Democratic Alliance government’s land acquisition ordinance. He was claiming to offer the maximum compensation to the farmers in the country who were victims of unseasonal rains.

But Gajender or Gajendra’s alleged suicide washed down his efforts. When Gajender made the move to climb the tree at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, when he was trying to scale up and down the branches of the three, when he was waving his turban, the crowd below there, consisted mostly of the Aam Aadmi Party volunteers mainly, cheered him up.

When his alleged suicide, which was caught on many cameras, took place, Kejriwal promised he would visit the hospital after finishing the rally. He kept on speaking. The rally went on.

Meanwhile, Gajender was declared ‘brought dead’ by the doctors of Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in Delhi.

And Kejriwal and the AAP’s plans went to the awry after it.

After it, Kejriwal’s proposed visit never happened. He spoke on it, but only on third day, on April 24, defending and apologizing at the same time. His party’s spokespersons were speaking rubbish all this while. Sanjay Singh even visited Gajender’s village in Duasa district in Rajasthan.

Gajender’s village became a talking point. Every major political party, along with some senior politicians, saw it its duty to register its presence there. When Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Rajasthan’s chief minister, from the Bhartiya Janata Party, made a controversial statement about visiting Gajender’s villages, it created a political storm. She ultimately did not visit the village.

Gajender’s family too changed its stance after meeting Sanjay Singh. In words of Sanjay Singh, the family demanded ‘martyr status for the cause of farmers’ and jobs for dependent of Gajender, along with other demands.

In all, a political storm was brewing and farm suicides were at the forefront of every discourse in this country, something that seldom happens, even if tens of thousands of farmers commit suicide each year. Everyone was trying to squeeze in the maximum political mileage of this ‘Peepli Live’ sort of situation.

All this while, Gajender’s suicide and suicide note, both were under scanner. There were doubts based on the probe so far and it was told to us that Gajender did not intend to commit suicide and his suicide note was forged. Questions like who invited him from Rajasthan and his call details are part of investigation now. And the AAP was clearly on back foot.

Kejriwal was feeling uncomfortable with these questions. He was at the centre of every criticism and he had no answers but lame excuses. Also, the incident came after almost expulsion like situation of two senior-most AAP founder-members, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan. The AAP is staring at a credibility crisis.

And then April 25 Nepal earthquake happened. The whole nation since then is talking about it. It got round the clock coverage till Monday. Even yesterday, it got the maximum amount of coverage.

And the AAP got the breather that it desperately needed.

April 25, 26, 27 and 28 – no one talked about Gajender.

But Gajender’s issue is not dead. As coverage from Nepal will return to normal, the AAP agenda will be back in political circles.

Kejriwal realizes it or not, we need to see that. Though he has softened his tone towards Delhi Police saying even Delhi Police officials present there could not think that Gajender was preparing to commit suicide, Gajender did die.

Farmers are dying daily in this country the headlines tell. Unseasonal rains have only added to the numbers. But they don’t pull attention, until someone like Gajender commits an intentional/unintentional suicide in India’s national capital in a rally called by its newest political party that is running the show in Delhi and is trying to take on the whole political class including the BJP in the centre.

Commonplace ironies of world’s largest democracy continue.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON APRIL 28

— Death toll in Nepal has crossed the 5000 mark. Injured count over 10,000. The final figure, as expected, is to be in many thousands – of dead – of injured.

— India has reported 72 deaths, China has 25.

— Most affected districts in Nepal – Kathmandu, Pokhara, Lalitpur (Patan), Lamjung, Gorkha, Sindhupalchok, Bhaktapur, Rasuwa, Dhading, Langtang, Gorkha, Nuwakot, Kavre, Makwanpur, Chitwan, Parsa, Bara, Saptari, Dhanusha.

— Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur have lost many temples and heritage sites. Kathmandu’s Darbar Square and Gorkha’s Gorkha Durbar have been hit badly.

— Millions were displaced and left homeless. Their rehabilitation is a priority but public frustration is growing. Relief is not reaching to them as expected.

— Rescue and relief efforts are proving difficult to carry out, especially in remote towns and villages. Many of them are still out of reach. Teams are facing problems of logistics with cracked roads and dysfunctional power and communication lines.

— Nepal’s small and chaotic airport is proving to be a problem. It is inundated with people, and with relief material and is facing logistical problems in managing them. People are rushing to go out of Nepal while support from the world community has created a sort of mismanagement at the airport.

— Nepal, due to its goodwill, is getting overwhelming response from the world community. India, Nepal’s neighbour, the only country with direct road access to the country, is playing the role of big brother with its ‘Operation Maitri’, helping Nepal in every respect. It is helping in rescue, relief and reconnaissance efforts in Kathmandu, in Everest base camp area and in other quake affected regions. It is expected to play a big role in rehabilitation and reconstruction work. It is airlifting people and trying to open up more roads to the country to carry more people to this side of India-Nepal border and heavy equipments needed to that side of the border. Indian Army has established a camp in Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest district, to coordinate the operations. The international community, including China, Pakistan, US, UK, Australia, Canada, Israel, etc., and different aid agencies including the UN are there with helping hands.

— Stormy weather with warnings of heavy to very heavy rains are affecting rescue and relief work. Whenever rains happen, efforts to reach and help people across the affected region come to a virtual standstill.

— Electricity was restored in some parts of Kathmandu with help of India.

— Though there was no major earthquake today, Nepal continue to experience aftershocks.

— People continue to stay in the open – in Kathmandu and across Nepal. Kathmandu looks like a refugee camps with many tents, open hospitals and relief centres.

— According to the UN estimates, some 8 million are affected and many of Nepal’s cities look like ghost towns. It is revised and up from an earlier UN estimate of 6.6 million quake-affected people. According to the revised estimates, 39 of 75 Nepal districts are earthquake affected. 11 of these are severely damaged.

— Around 20 bodies are recovered from Mount Everest base camps. Some reports say 18. The final figure is yet not available. Scores are still missing. Some reports say them to be around 200, some 400. Dozens are saved from the way up and the area surrounding Everest base camps. The way up from Tibet side, in China, the northern side, is closed. The southern side, from Nepal, the popular one, is devastated. Everest climbing season this spring is virtually over with it.

— Nepal’s deputy PM said the rescue efforts were over and it was the time for rehabilitation work even if the reconnaissance work was not yet complete.

— Also, petty politics, though to a smaller extent, is at play. Nepal has rejected Taiwanese offer of help. There are reports of China expressing displeasure on India, choppers flying near China’s border. Also, there are reports of skirmishes between Indian R&R teams and Nepal’s defence forces.

— Different estimates say different things and will continue to say so. The impact of this earthquake on Nepal’s economy is severe. Nepal and global agencies are already assessing the damage. If we believe the US Geological Survey estimates, the damage could be to the extent of around $US 10 billion. IHS Global, a US based firm, estimates Nepal needs $US 5 billion for rehabilitation and reconstruction works.

— Remittances form around 30% of the GDP while tourism’s share is 8%. This 38% also helps Nepal to work on its unemployment problem, that is as huge as 50% according to some estimates. In the aftermath of Nepal quake, the sectors are going to be hit badly, affecting thus Nepal’s economy badly.

Related post:
NEPAL EARTHQUAKE: UPDATES SO FAR – ON APRIL 27
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/nepal-earthquake-updates-so-far-on-april-27/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/