A MAN-MADE DISASTER, THE HUMAN MISERY AND OUR SUPERHUMAN POLITICIANS

Many thousands estimated to be dead, over ten thousand still stranded and in imminent danger, yet our politicians maintain a figure hanging around 1000 – see, they have this ability to lessen the impact of death and disaster by manipulating the data – superhumans! Aren’t they?

Like a man is totally helpless and hapless when the nature strikes with its fury, in the same way, the miserable Indians have resigned to their fate on being trampled over and manhandled by the politicians.

What else one should say when we, who form the nation, witness the politicians shamefully slogging out verbal volleys to hide their failure and score their prospects midst one of the biggest disasters the country has seen in the recent years – the Uttarakhand flash floods.

Failures and prospects – these two are relatively contradicting terms. What hues failure takes directly affects the prospect. It has been the norm. It is and it should still be the norm.

But like the socially responsible role of politics has been pushed to the oblivion with rampant human greed of the political corruption in India, a trend, becoming a norm, that, indeed, is not the norm, this interdependence of ‘failure and prospect’, too, has no functional dependence left.

In fact, Indian politicians of the day don’t believe in normative forms of ‘failure’. They feel they fail only when they are not able to score personal gains.

Failing in carrying out responsibilities for which they have been voted in or have been accepted as political leaders doesn’t amount to failure for them any more.

And so the governance failure in making a natural calamity, that the Uttarakhand flash floods is, a man-made disaster, doesn’t even register on the faces of the politicians when they react on it.

Instead, they are busy hobnobbing the state as if it is some election campaign battleground and so an opportunity for photo sessions and rallies. They don’t care if them rallying around by air, when air-lifting is the backbone of the evacuation operations, hampers the relief and evacuation process.

Politicians are scrambling to visit the disaster-hit state as if they are rushing on government sponsored irrelevant study tours that every year costs the exchequer millions from the public funds. It all looks so crassly insensitive.

So, if biggies like Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Narendra Modi and many other known and small politicians including some chief ministers were not enough to delay the rescue operations, another biggie, Rahul Gandhi, who had become a matter of debate by his absence as he was not in India, too, took the plunge yesterday by visiting the flood-ravaged state.

Now who cares on the worthiness of such debates as delayed responses or prolonged silences on issues of wider social repercussions have become trademarks of Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi. One is the prime-minister in office now while the other is the next prime-ministerial candidate of the current ruling party! See the misery of ‘we, the Indians’!

But, they are superhumans, like most other politicians – entitled to act so. So, they are trying to mitigate and lessen the impact of the disaster in their trademark ways. They are making statements that nothing could have been be done as they were not informed of such heavy rains yet they have done impressive work and have saved many lives by acting in time.

But what about those thousands who were still trapped while the helicopters were ferrying politicians?

But what about the unplanned development promoted by the human greed and political corruption that has made this calamity so disastrous?

Politicians like Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Narendra Modi, Digvijay Singh and others cannot answer it and they won’t bother to answer it.

A report about a biggie politician says he evacuated 15000 trapped pilgrims from his state in one day; another politician says the people from his states are being ill-treated in Uttarakhand; another politician responsible for governing the environmentally fragile state refuses aid from a state as the government there is of political opposition; a powerful political duo sitting on top of the decision-making process of the country still doesn’t find enough reasons to declare the calamity a national disaster – the list about self-made and self-followed reflections of the disaster, that is just 10 days old, is long.

Our politicians, superhumans they are! They don’t buy what the reality says. They follow what suits their interests, manipulating the reality of the masses with the feasibility of their own interests.

They believe they are not answerable to anyone. Denial is their primary weapon and manipulation is their ultimate weapon, even if it comes at a cost of thousands of lives struggling to get out of the imminent danger they are in.

Many thousands are still trapped in Uttarakhand while the weather has started taking bad shape again making the rough terrain even less accessible for the relief and rescue work and sadly, our sincere and honest soldiers, carrying out the operations at many ‘ground zeros’ of the massive devastation, are not superhumans!

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

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UTTARAKHAND DISASTER: SOME REAL GOOD JOB BY AN OVER-THE-TOP MEDIA

Right from the time when the enormity of the disastrous Uttarakhand flash floods became clear, the national media has been on it, 24/7. As the thousands trapped in the rough terrain of Uttarakhand post-floods were from across many parts of the country, the regional media, too, had a major chunk of their daily plans on it. And a human crisis deepening every day brought the international media on the scene as well.

And it has continued.

And it has torn deeply into the political doublespeak. Okay, the folks have flown unrestrained, blurring every fine line of decency in reporting a human disaster like this, but it is they only who didn’t give the politicians chance to manipulate the reality to hide the scale of calamity. The world now knows the scale of the disaster that, probably, has killed tens of thousands though the government is still hovering around a figure of 1000.

The raw reporting on the crude behavior of the politicos has forced the politicians to do more, though, even now, they are not looking sincere.

Reportedly, the former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu is visiting Uttarakhand today (after 8 days!) His magnanimity has revealed its desire at a time when the delays in the relief and rescue efforts due to the visits (silly, worthless aerial surveys) of the political VVIPs like Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Narendra Modi and others have been a matter of raging debate.

According to some reports, during initial days of the calamity, when the government was still in a denial mode, almost 70 per cent of the helicopters, supposed to be used for evacuation and relief efforts, were being used to ferry the politicians.

Also, in order to stuff more in order to score over the completion, they have dug more and more on how the scale of the disaster is man made; on how the human greed, silly political considerations and unplanned development (owing to the political reasons of vote-bank politics and political corruption) contributed to make this disaster so massive; on how the government was trying to hide the facts by sending reports from the areas of maximum devastation like Kedarnath and its surrounding places; on how the relief materials like food items and medicines were in short supply at many places where larger number of people were trapped; and how the politicians went on scoring rhetoric while people were dying.

Yes, the political apathy continues even if thousands are dead and thousands are in imminent danger. The two biggest political parties, Congress and Bhartiya Janta Party, are playing politics over the dead bodies to score political mileage. The war of words is deafeningly ugly and certainly avoidable. But the folks would not let us give the leeway to look the other way.

There may be a silver-lining in this but only if we could read the message, something that we fail to read most often.

While the media carriers have their own interest in desiring for more intense war of words, the public has the opportunity, once more (like innumerable other times) to see the real character of the Indian politicians, on how insensitive and disconnected from the masses they have become to lead the Indians who vote them in the office.

Would they see it this time?

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

UTTARAKHAND FLASH FLOODS: IT MAY BE A NATURAL DISASTER BUT ITS ENORMITY IS MAN-MADE

The usual deafening noise in the aftermath of a catastrophe forced on us by the nature –

–        the less than enough rescue operations, as always,

–        the uncertainty over the scale of calamity, as always,

–        the reports in the aftermath that the warning signals were ignored by the administration, as always,

–        politics over the calamity, as always, and,

–        the insensitivity over the lives lost, as always

The flash floods of Uttarakhand have caused huge devastation, on unprecedented scale, that happens in case of natural calamities of this scale where a large geographical area is affected.

But what is aggravating the situation more is the administration’s attitude. Four days on, the governments (state and union) are still maintaining a death toll of around 100 while the eye-witness and survivor accounts about it vary from 2000 to 20,000. The final figure, that may take months to compile, may come out to be even much more than 20,000, if honestly reported by the governments.

Local people from affected areas say many localities across many districts in the hilly state are washed away in the mudslide. Reports say only the Shivling of the Kedarnath Shrine is left and everything else there is gone. People from the affected parts of the state say clusters of villages at many places have disappeared.

It is now four days. Bodies are piled up. There is imminent danger of spread of diseases that may well prove yet another epidemic for the stranded visitors as well as the survivors and the unaffected people of the disaster hit areas. Stranded people are complaining of administration’s apathy, ill-treatment and unavailability of food.

Given the rough terrain and the inclement weather due to which even the sincere rescuers of Indian Army and Air Force are facing difficulty in locating and evacuating the people affected, no one can say anything yet about the scale of devastation but that doesn’t make anyone including Mr. Manmohan Singh qualified to underestimate the scale of the crisis.

Rs 2 lakhs to the kin of the dead, 50,000 to the injured, 1 lakh for the houses washed away – lakhs that are never adequate –- lakhs that only show the insensitivity of the political class – is this what a human life and thousands of human lives mean for the governments? – can any one think of building a house of even a single room in Rs 1 lakh?

Human lives of this country are still, more or less, the mute spectators. They will, as always, weather this calamity, for good or bad, on their own and will go on to elect one or the other politician to lead them. The political class realizes it and enjoys the System that doesn’t give the voters the option to reject the politicians in the electoral process.

But nature is not a mute spectator. It always hits back like this time, like every other time, whenever the mankind encroaches the areas where the nature warns not to venture in.

But the irony is it is the people, who do not have anything to do with such decisions to exploit the nature beyond the acceptable limits, have to face the fury.

Be it controversial hydroelectric power projects, riverbed mining, or construction in the areas along the river flow, or state government’s resistance to declare the environmentally fragile area of the state as an ‘eco-sensitive’ zone, it is the ordinary people who are left to face the disaster in case a natural calamity like this happens.

Reports and local people say most of the commercial operations including illegal buildings, hotels and resorts, encroachments and riverbed mining are being operated by politicians directly or in connivance with others.

Once such a development happens in an area in a rich country like India where the majority is still poor, it sees spontaneous flow of people looking for the elusive livelihood option; people who, someday, may become and become victims of nature’s fury while the political masters make statements sitting in secured palatial offices in metros, like it is happening in Uttarakhand now.

It may be a natural disaster but its enormity is man-made.

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