It is indeed a wonder that even after 71-years of independence, the nation stands united against secessionist demands steadfast in its endeavours to uphold the unity in diversity that is unique to the nation. The pro-Khalistan movement continues to have sympathizers across the globe in spite of sane voices from the community claiming that such a nefarious demand of secession from India was not in consonance with the tenets of Sikhism.
A cursory glance over the list of gallantry award winners released by the defence ministry on the eve of the Independence Day this year confirms the eerie fact that most of those honoured owe their citations of bravery to skirmishes with terrorists. It is indeed a sad state of affairs for a country that fought valiantly to unshackle the yokes of colonialism which bound it to centuries of subservience to the British Raj that it still actively engaged in staving off resistance from secessionist groups within its territories demanding ‘independence’.
Exposed now to a new battlefront, where the streets and alleys of areas infested by terror activities virtually turn into war zones, reports of our bravehearts succumbing to the bullets of misguided and radicalized youth are quite disheartening. Categorization of regions in the eastern, central and southern parts of India that experience considerable Naxalite-Maoist insurgency as the ‘Red Corridor’ should wake up countrymen to the hard facts about an armed uprising that is claiming innocent lives in the name of a rebellion that never was.
Yet, the furore over these tumultuous ‘events’ notwithstanding; year after year, on every Independence Day, the Prime Minister of the country proudly announces from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort that the peaceful ambience of this great nation can never be shattered by the violent acts of the vested interests. However, there is an urgent need to put all such unsavoury matters to the back-burner, as today the country battles problems far worse than insurgency and the aggressive postures of hostile neighbours.
With various regions across the country experiencing the wrath of the natural elements in its full magnitude, the nation is now, very painfully, coming to terms with the havoc wreaked by the vagaries of nature. At a time when floods and other natural calamities have been taking their toll on the country, the entire attention of the nation is turned towards providing relief measures to those devastated by the adversity.
The worst monsoon disaster since 1924, the flood fury in Kerala is an indication of the helplessness of mankind when confronted by climatic uncertainties bringing death and destruction in its wake.
God’s Own Country is in need of some divine intervention to rescue it from the clutches of ‘demonic forces’ that has gradually submerged it under meters of water due to incessant and torrential rains. A series of landslides has further added to the woes of residents. Many rivers have breached their banks and water has entered residences. Thousands of families have been evacuated to relief camps.
Besides the three wings of the armed forces pressed into service, Coast Guard and NDRF have been deputed to mobilize additional manpower, boats and helicopters to scale up the rescue and relief operations. The collective efforts by selfless volunteers, slogging shoulder-to-shoulder with the authorities in bringing solace to the distressed people tell their own stories of exemplary courage and fortitude.
As per reports from Ground Zero, although the inexperience in managing a disaster of this scale is quite obvious, relentless efforts by rescue teams is helping locals tide over the crisis, at least marginally. However, the lack of sophisticated equipment to reach people stuck in inundated areas is definitely proving to be an impediment in the rescue operations. Apart from these efforts by the authorities, thousands of associations from across the country have been pouring in relief materials into Kerala. And the help is not just restricted to Keralite expatriates – any and everybody concerned about the plight of people in Kerala have been extending a helping hand.
These humanitarian gestures which is a representation of the unity in evidence during these turbulent times, when people across the country, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion, come together to assist their brothers and sisters in distress speaks for that distinctive trait which distinguishes an Indian from others. It is this amity, the brotherhood in evidence, which will afford India the strength to withstand the debilitating repercussions of natural calamities and the evil designs of divisive forces intent on seeing the republic obliterated beyond recognition.
The politics being played over the disaster threatens to overwhelm the good-work of those millions who have only had concerns about God’s Own Country returning to its former serenity and grandeur. The flood fury in Kerala rates as one of those natural disasters that hasn’t had parallels in recent times - a calamity of severe nature.
Resulting in large-scale loss of life and property entailing massive rescue and relief operations, it is for certain that it will take quite some time for normalcy to return to the state. While the lives and livelihood of millions of Keralites are at stake, clamour over the nomenclature of the catastrophe threatens to stoke political fires with a collective appeal by the state government and other national parties to declare the Kerala floods as a national disaster taking precedence over other matters.
Quantifying and labelling disasters has never been an easy task for experts. But by placing the deluge in God’s Own Country in the Level 3 category, Kerala has been assured the Centre’s assistance with funds and personnel. At a time when selfless volunteers and men in uniform are valiantly engaged in rescue operations, with an equal number busy providing relief measures, the needless politics over the ridiculous demand is indeed flustering!
However, as Kerala battles the devastating after-effects of the terrible floods and landslides, the social media is as usual awash with disinformation about the ravaged state. With facts and fiction being separated by the barest of threads, rumour-mongers are having a field day. But genuinely speaking, devastated Kerala requires all the help it can muster! With relief operations mounted on war-footing not only in the state but also in distant lands, the phenomenal aid and assistance pouring into Kerala has been an indication of the universal concern.
Yet, the propensity for ‘taking credit’ appears to have smitten every individual and organization actively engaged in providing relief measures to those affected by the catastrophe. Various associations of Keralites across the country and abroad are in a permanent state of competition vis-à-vis their roles in procuring relief materials for their brethren back home. It is as if the relief operations have come as an opportunity for the office-bearers to tom-tom their achievements!
If the horrid scenes of ruin in the wake of the tragedy in Kerala are not enough, the galaxy of portentous photos and press-clippings that fly across as WhatsApp posts depicting the ‘generous’ and ‘altruistic’ service of migrant and expat Malayalees for their people back home reek of insensitiveness. But vanity has always epitomized the fallacious quality of mankind!(Published on 27th August 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 35)