A flood of apathy
We had floods last month in Assam and parts of the North East got cut from access. This month we have floods in Orissa where large numbers of people are surviving on roofs or abandoning homes altogether.
The plight of people is bad, BAD. The levels of water in rivers have started receding since yesterday, but it will be a while before villagers are able to reclaim their villages. Meanwhile, they are marooned on their rooftops or wherever they are sheltered. Surrounded by floodwater and out of basic essentials like food and water.
Relief supplies are being dropped from Bhuwaneshwar and no one really seems to know what’s going on with those, but there is a lot of wastage when packets are dropped in flood water and lost or damaged beyond use. Imagine the mental state of one who is reduced to seeing his thirsty children drink floodwater out of desperation, stay hungry for days, and have packets of aid dropping into the water around. Read this man’s story.
I hope relief forces discover better ways of targetting where the supplies land or at least pack them to be waterproof. I suppose the packing will also become useful protection for the victims.
The other thing that comes to mind is the disinterest of National Media in this tragedy. There is little awareness being raised, little effort made to draw attention to people suffering desperately and on a massive scale in the country. Most people don’t know about the flood, or if they do know, they know it as a vague news thing they heard briefly. Compare this with the day Mumbai flooded. The flooding lasted for a couple of hours but was headlines for months after that.
Even minor flooding and traffic jams and collapsing building walls and what nots all make news when it is the city. And when it is not the city? Many, many people in desperate straits barely get a mention. This is wrong on so many levels. If we are a country, then we must act like one country. It is not enough to call a place an “atoot ang” or get angry if they want to break away from the country, but ignore the people who are there. Every state of this country is important, all the citizens are important.
These are simple people, their needs are simple and mostly revolve around survival in a time like this. As co-citizens, concern, basic supplies and attention is the very least of what we owe them. It is shocking to know that we are failing them and in their time of need, the aid is falling short of the objective and their plight is hidden from the world. This callous disregard must go.
I had suggested in an earlier article that the National media must include stories from all over the country. I stress that in times of crisis, these stories must occupy even more prominent places. Vijayendra Mohanty challenges this pseudo national scope of our media in an excellent, scathing article where he describes a friend asking him how he is doing because he is in danger of his home being submerged, but is reading in the news that Delhi is facing severe flooding.
This isn’t just some idealistic thing, but these are real people and their plights are very real. Aid agencies both in and out of the country cannot understand the magnitude of the need, if it doesn’t reach them. In being blind to the plight of the lesser known citizens of the country, the media ends up depriving them of potential assistance in their time of crippling need. There needs to be some reflection on this.
More importantly, we need to be aware that our national media is no such thing and make conscious efforts to spread the word on the difficulties faced by the people of our country in places media is not interested in. For example, Here is the link to the Chief Minister of Odisha’s Relief fund for the flood victims. You can also donate online. To quote information from that page:
Donate to “CHIEF MINISTER’S RELIEF FUND, ORISSA” (CMRF) by CHEQUE/DEMAND DRAFT payable at Bhubaneswar.
All contributions to ORISSA CMRF may be sent to Joint Secretary to Government, GA (CMRF) Department, Orissa Secretariat, Bhubaneswar- 751001,Orissa.
Donors can also remit through their bank directly to SB A/C No.10566116417 of State Bank of India, Forest Park Branch, Bhubaneswar, Orissa.
PS: I had wanted to write more and more and more…. really a lot. Lots of articles, posts… to show my caring. But I know very little of what is happening there. Sharing a source for more information: Orissa Diary and Orissa TV – They are local news, and they are deploying teams among the flooded to bring really grassroots news. Kudos to them.