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/