22 June, 2013


A Short Article

The nation is waiting with bated breath for the full scale of the tragedy to unfold even as nearly one thousand people have perished, several thousand injured, and many more are stranded precariously in unreachable areas.

Scores of villages, lakes, roads, bridges, mobile towers, water tanks, electrical and phone lines, houses, hospitals, schools, offices and temples have vanished. Tourists and locals alike are stranded at several inaccessible pockets with acute scarcity of food, drinking water and warm clothing.

Clearly detailed investigations will be necessary to precisely identify the causes for this massive tragedy and for the slow rescue. Unprecedented fury of the nature and impact of global warming apparently triggered the tragedy. Criminal neglect of environmental concerns, unbridled material greed leading to unauthorized constructions and gross unpreparedness in disaster relief worsened it.

But, is this the time to pin the blame? Or should every possible resource be mobilized towards rescuing people and relieving their pains as best we can?

But blaming is what the media, particularly its electronic wing, is doing. They demand that none short of the Chief Minister and the Lt General must talk to them. Anchors are busy blaming the politicians, giving them the choicest of epithets and arousing people’s anger against the political class and the establishment. They are themselves setting one against another and then citing this as blame-game of politicians. One leading channel said: “our soldiers are toiling hard while our politicians are cozying in airplanes” while showing the Prime Minister during his aerial survey.

Media is demotivating government officers and workers, creating a crises of confidence. Aggrieved and angry people are taking law in their hands and making their job even more difficult, compelling some to even abandon their posts.

This is an extremely dangerous trend. Right now people need to exercise restraint, behave in orderly fashion, follow instructions, and trust the system for what it is.

Who can ask these self-styled conscience keepers of the nation when they last did a documentary on environmental degradation or a sting operation on lack of disaster relief preparedness? How many suspended their entertainment fair, reached inaccessible areas, brought out stories of courage, sacrifice and endurance, offered tips for survival, set up help-lines.. and when?

And why not blame the Gods that these hapless pilgrims went to please? And the Godmen that failed to forewarn these credulous faithfuls? Why not show that when temples could not stand the fury, surely Gods failed them?

Why not blame the people that are making a kill by selling a bottle of water for Rs.200, looting stranded people and removing the jewelry of the dead rather than rescuing the injured?

Much better, why not showcase the good Samaritans that have set up emergency relief centres voluntarily, providing all they can under difficult circumstances, cite duty conscious workers and officers, and interview travellers helping each other?

Why be sadistic and negative when positivity, hope, sacrifice and determination are what are most needed? There is plenty of time to fix the blame and punish the guilty later, if we acquit ourselves well right now.

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