Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Is it a tragedy or . . .

Is it a tragedy or another platform for political showcasing.?

On the day of the tragedy which shook the whole of Asia and World, a premier cable channel in tamil was showing people standing on the beach. the first thing that stuck my mind was "Why are they standing there?". Is it to see if the water level is raising ( talk about caution ) again. Were they planning to die? Or were they expecting to be a "part" of the tsunami if it occurs again so that they can reminisce (???) to the "best" weekly magazine and get a paragraph in that "heart rendering" cover story? I do really appreciate the way that channel was able to cover ONLY but all the areas where dead bodies were lying, be it in chennai, or nagai or cuddalore. You name it, they have the scene of the halls turned mortuaries with wailing to fill the remaining. Once or twice, it evokes sadness and pain in the heart, but a whole day of this causes more irritation than sympathy. This was their only major coverage for the first day and most of second day. Popular english news channels were trying to cover/telecast the cause of this disaster, the science behind it, the probability of recurrence and similar things. I came to know of the TN's CM visit to Nagapattinam only after i saw an article in rediff.com Whose Tragedy is it anyway?

Using the media for political benefit is understandable, but at a time of calamity , its only humane for different people and parties to shove off their differences to get together to bring the distressed back to normal life. Trying to use a calamity for political growth only shows the standard of the people who run the state/country. One another incident which is noteworthy is this. This media person was interviewing people affected by Tsunami . Now the fisherman selected by this channel aptly blames "Government has done nothing for us so far....." and ."Who wants food and water here. Give us boat and nets so that we can fish and survive" Somebody should have told the fisherman (or the press person??? ) that all Sea Food has been banned totally due to the poisining of the sea by bloated corpses all through the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean. Another news was that all used clothes are being rejected by the survived people because "CM has told that she will give us new dress. so dont give us used clothes. we want new clothes". I do not know the legitimacy of this (CM's statement). If the reason for the rejection of old clothes is this, this just mocks at all those forthcoming hearts which gave all those costly clothes. I helped in collecting clothes and segregating them in trichy and chennai. Of all the clothes which had come for the victims, only about 15% were not usable. Most others were in fully usable condition. I sincerely hope the media does a better job in bringing about proper news to the people and helping the victims in a proper way rather than trying to create a political advantage alone under such a circumstance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Political showcasing notwithstanding, the Tsunami has been a natural disaster of humungous proportions. The impacted states do not have the administrative machinery for disaster control and response. The people in power have not gone beyond providing lip service to the numerous impacted families. This is an endemic disease of the political setup in India and the only way out is for private NGOs, individuals to come forward and fill the gap. The private Tamil TV channels that I watched for a few days while I was in Chennai were playing the game their political masters had strategically thought out. There is a lack of direction and leadership in the rescue efforts. There is no single department from the central government which has been made responsible for overseeing the rescue operations. In fact the political leadership has shunned away from the regions that are most impacted. It is not enough to do an aerial survey of the impacted areas and assume that the job is done. The leadership has to provide ground support and direction to local administrative authorities.

A central disaster response team(CDRT) is immediately required. We have had numerous such natural disasters earlier and we have been happy to provide knee-jerk responses to these events. It is time we thought of a coherent strategy to address such natural disasters. The CDRT will
1. Create crack teams of the political leadership to go to the impacted areas and reach the common people
2. Create a team of radio HAM operators closest to the impacted regions and make them available to provide ground reality and avoid sensationalism of issues.
3. Get information from the local people on what kind of help or support is needed.
4. Make plans for different phases of response
Phase 1 - immediate rehabilitation of impacted families and provide necessary relief.
Phase 2 - Get an assessment of damage to infrastructure, nature and human lives.
Phase 3 - make plans for long term rehabilitation of impacted people and industries.

The outpouring of sympathy from the people of India has been spontaneous.
Many individuals and organizations have come forward to provide help and monetary support to the impacted regions and families. The fact that the relief was in the wrong direction (clothes being provided instead of relief camps, food and water) is an example of how directionless the rescue effort was. Of course, we have a several politicians and cracks (professionals) who know how to exploit such situations for their own benefits.

The media coverage of this event by local TV channels is more of a joke than any concrete effort to provide information or help people whose lives have been altered by this earthshaking event.

My random thoughts....BuvRav