Kudos to Kerala, Where Relief Means Relief
August 20, 2018
It is a sad commentary on the times when even a mammoth human tragedy like the Kerala floods becomes an occasion of divisiveness on the social media. And the media per se. Focusing on the death of a former prime minister, the big Indian media ignored the trauma and suffering of the people of an Indian (note not Pakistani) state for days. Attention switched finally, but by then the social media had established that Kerala was “Commie and Congress” and hence did not deserve attention. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the state, held a meeting with the Chief Minister and his government on the flood situation, but this did not stop those who swear allegiance to him and the BJP from insisting that no funds need be diverted to the submerged state. From an initial Rs 100 crores, the PM hiked the Central assistance to Rs 500 crores. A paltry sum by any standards for a state where all 13 of 14 districts are under water, and rescue still an ongoing operation. Relief and rehabilitation will be a staggering feat, and perhaps it needs a Left government to simultaneously start the relief work in camps that have full supplies, are well run, with doctors in close attendance.
A sign of this is the decision by Kerala groups in Delhi to donate the supplies and money being collected to the Chief Ministers Distress Fund, as the state government is clearly being trusted by its own citizens to look after the affected populace. There, perhaps, cannot be a greater compliment than this for P.Vijayan and his team with Ministers wading through flood waters, personally supervising rescue and relief operations. The cadres are on the ground where able, with the state uniting to save its own in these times of trouble. No one in the state has seen floods of this magnitude.
At the same time anger against Delhi is growing and visible on the social media where the trolls have come out to insist that there was no need to help the ‘Commie’ state. The language, as always, is crass and objectionable even in these times where fellow Indian citizens are struggling to survive, where nearly three lakhs or more have been displaced, and where about 300 persons have lost their lives, and still counting. This is not to mention the loss of property with houses having collapsed, and live stock including elephants and other wild life that is not expected to have survived natures fury.
Tragic that even in this times the sword of divisiveness is being wielded with such viciousness. And where non-BJP states have rushed to help Kerala, with less heard from the BJP ruled states. Foreign governments, like that of Canada, have recognised the viciousness of the floods and reached out with a message of support.
Fortunately, the divisiveness is not working on the ground, with individuals and organisations across India voluntarily gathering money and food and blankets and medicines for Kerala. Helplines for relief are in wide circulation and the good in India is very visible in its support at all levels.
For now kudos to the Kerala government and her people for work not always seen in the wake of natural disasters. Where relief means relief.
First published in The Citizen.
Donate to the Indian Writers' Forum, a public trust that belongs to all of us.