The Best and the Worst on Show
Columns, Point of View

The Best and the Worst on Show

By T.J.S. George,

How many will learn how many lessons from the floods that devastated Kerala and Kodagu? The most important lesson is bound to go unlearned — that, ultimately, these were again examples of Nature collapsing under the impact of human greed. We were warned of it five years ago when cloudbursts and landslides turned Uttarakhand upside down, killing nearly 6,000 people. It was adjudged a man-made disaster with hydroelectric dams, illegal mining and construction activities upsetting Nature’s balance.

The same greed-driven factors have been threatening most of the Western Ghats as Madhav Gadgil warned seven years ago. Land exploitation and illegal quarrying had reached dangerous levels. But the profiteers behind such exploitation always get support from government leaders and political parties. So the Gadgil Report was subverted. Gadgil has pointed to the Kerala disaster and warned that Goa would be next. To see what he means, we only have to take a drive along certain areas of interior Goa that have been turned by mining companies into gaping holes in the earth. The miners and their political friends earned Rs. 35,000 crore in profits as an inquiry commission found.

The story is the same whether it be Kerala, Goa or Kodagu where entire plantations have disappeared in flood fury. Converting paddy fields and forest lands into resorts is an easy way to make money. When the natural movements of water are blocked and when hill slopes are cleared of vegetation, Nature breaks into landslides, debris flows and rock falls. But we refuse to learn lessons as greed dances with corruption.

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The depredation that wrecked Kerala threw light on the best and the worst that make up our country. The way the local people rose to the occasion was both inspiring but humbling. Individuals and groups plunged into rescue operations disregarding all political and religious differences. Coastal fishing communities transported 700 boats by lorries to the affected areas and helped move 65,000 people to safe shelters. Social media groups set up online control rooms and call centres manned by hundreds of volunteers. Prisoners in the State’s jails prepared food in vast quantities in addition to contributing Rs. 12 lakh from their prison-work wages. The authorities closed the gates of a dam to save a flood-trapped elephant. Four men risked their lives to save a dog that couldn’t swim against a strong current. The media did a great job combining responsibility with dedication. The Chief Minister showed timely leadership and instilled confidence in people while coordinating relief activities. He was even courteous to the media. What the world saw was a spontaneous people’s movement with the “We shall overcome” theme as a driving force.

This groundswell of voluntary action by a people who refused to be cowed down by catastrophe added weight to the help that rushed in from outside. The Armed Forces,  Central teams with special skills, and flood relief experts from Odisha were so brave that the locals took them as family. The message was: This is a country that citizens can be proud of.

But one sinister streak marred the whole scenario. Discordant notes came from the religious right and, astonishingly, from the Central Government. A Swamy’s comment that Kerala was punished for eating beef may be dismissed as the ranting of a mental case. But what about a man from the BJP’s IT Cell who uploaded an audio clip and text saying that the flood-affected people were mostly from well to do families who therefore deserved no assistance. He still asked for donations, but to a BJP-sponsored platform. There were others who said contributions should not be sent to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund because the money could go to the minorities.

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Just as BJP voices went against the public mood, the Central Government took positions that seemed partisan. Was Delhi piqued that its Rs. 600-crore aid to Kerala was followed by UAE’s Rs. 700-crore offer? It saved face by announcing that the 600 crore was only a preliminary step. It caused outrage when it said that it would charge rice allocations to the State, then saved its face by saying the rice would be free. Its ban on foreign government’s contributions marred its face beyond saving. There are rules and precedents that make the ban decision untenable. But that is not the real issue. The real issue is that the Government of India has given the impression that it is inimical towards the Government and people of a State. This is unprecedented and it bodes ill for the future.

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www.tjsgeorge.info

August 28, 2018

7 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “The Best and the Worst on Show”

  1. Surya Prakasam says:

    Kannadigas need a person Like Chandra Babu Naidu(CBN) for rebuilding from a disaster. The best example of CBN is the rebuilding of Visakhapatnam after Hoodud Cyclone. The center never kept it’s promise for rebuilding Visakhapatnam and created obstecles too. But CBN stood gaurd and rebuilt this place. I am not praising CBN, what I am trying to impress upon you people is here is a living experienced person who built a strong Visakhapatnam from the disaster. (An area of 1000 sq. km was flattened by 240 to 280 Km speed winds which lasted for 2 hours only)
    It is time for all Kannadigas to act now in grooming the Young who can put up an effort equal to CBN to change the lives of Kannadigas. I also request people to stop blaming, pointing fingers at the Administration, State Centere, religious groups it is free India people talk and let them enjoy the talking.
    If you see suffering of the people and the administration not able to meet put up those which is the need f the hour. If you find the help is not reaching take it to CBN he will send his men whitn hours. I am sure even Modi cannot what CBN can do.

    Once again i beg you journos to high light the suffering of the people so that some one acts for them for relief. Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please.

  2. Hari says:

    Why are people even expecting from thus government? They are in power not because the people voted them, but just by the arrangement that the loosing parties put their differences aside for the sake of power and grabbed power! So, you can’t expect them to do any favor to the voters!

  3. Prakash.R says:

    Mr George! Do not spread the rumor that UAE offered 700 crores, even after UAE itself denied even offering it! It was the communists ploy to embarrass the central government and media was too enthusiastic to broadcast this LIE!
    Christian missionaries have plundered the Kerala state of the resources and used religion as their tool to spread their evil empire of quarrying, illegal mining and using the cross to continue their trade! The cM wants 20000 crores cash handed over to him, but hates the idea of creating the compensation to the victims bank account! All he wants is the total control on the cash so that he can fill the begging bowls of the communist party!
    The same evangelists who badmouthing Hinduism in every one of their sermons are now resued by Hindus, even RSS.. How about that?

  4. Sunil says:

    UAE Ambassador to India told the daily that the UAE had “not announced” a relief fund amounting to Rs 700 crores or any amount! But Kerala communists stated this hoax to bash the government on this non existent offer and congress joined hands on this scavenger opportunity! Now why George has to still continue to hold on to this Lie , everybody knows! He takes a stand Pro China pro Pakistani interests just because he hates Modi! Now, just think, Kerala is governed by communist parties which is well known for murdeing Hindus in large number , no questions asked,just because they may be Bjp and RSS! Majority of our army is Hindu and they have rescued the people of Kerala , some of them may even be the murderers of Hindus ! Even RSS is serving in Kerala but no news media reports it! And every state in India has contributed to Kerala! But the same Kerala govermoment has never given a rupee to national disasters like Uttarakhand or Gujarati! People should remember, when George’s friends in Kerala murder the Hindus next time nation should ask this question! Did we save them so they can murder us?

  5. In four years and three draft notifications since March 2014 when the Centre recognised the need to prevent further degradation of the fragile ecology of Western Ghats, it has failed to bring six states on board for urgent action.
    As a result, 56,825 sq km of ‘ecologically sensitive’ area could not be earmarked as ‘no go’ zone for polluting activities and deforestation — a prerequisite to save the region from constant environmental degradation.
    Earmarking Kerala’s 9,993 sq km as Eco-Sensitive Area (ESA) four years ago may not have saved the state from excessive rainfall but the delay is certainly making the state, along with five others in the Western Ghats, more vulnerable.
    Since the demarcated areas remain on paper despite the draft being notified thrice in the past four years, continued deforestation in the fragile zone has left the entire stretch of 1,500 km running through the six states prone to landslides and floods even in a situation of ‘above normal’ rainfall during a short period of time.
    “High rainfall needs vegetated hills to break the rain’s energy and clear drainage lines (stream and rivers) to safely take the silt and water to the seas. Over time, denudation of hills, raising of dams, diversion of drainage lines and occupation of floodplains created a recipe for what has been witnessed,” environmentalist Manoj Misra said.
    “Unless ‘business as usual’ is reversed, Kerala 2018 is not the last that the nation has seen,” Misra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, said while noting that destruction of ‘ecologically sensitive’ area in Kerala was one of the reasons for the devastation it witnessed this month.
    Every time the environment ministry notified the ESA draft, as recommended by a high level working group (HLWG) headed by space scientist K Kasturirangan, it asked the Western Ghats states — Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala — to submit their views or objections.
    The process, however, has already seen a four-year delay. It has got entangled in states’ objections — mainly from Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
    “As a result, large-scale deforestation, mining and construction are continuing unabated, hurting the ecology of Western Ghats. Such harmful practices will increase the intensity of disaster. This flood (in Kerala) would have happened in any case. The destruction of Western Ghats made its impact worse,” said Chandra Bhushan, climate change expert at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
    The HLWG had submitted its recommendations on earmarking ESA in April 2013 after examining details of an earlier report by ecologist Madhav Gadgil. Both reports had flagged need to earmark ESA to prevent deforestation in Western Ghats.
    The ministry wants the states to speed up the process. It told Parliament last month that “finalisation of draft notification is subject to the final views of state governments”.

  6. Sam says:

    While George could blast the BJP based on the Blatant Lie from his comrades that UAE offering 700 crores, even after UAE vehemently denied any such offer ever made, here are some facts
    Os BJP government not giving enough support to the Kerala floods?
    Please have a look at following facts & figures:
    1. Uttarakhand Floods (2013)
    Death Toll : 5748
    Central Aid to Uttarakhand : 1000 Crore
    Kerala Aid to Uttarakhand : ZERO
    (Note : It was UPA Government in Center, Uttarakhand & Kerala)
    2. Tamil Nadu Floods (2015Death Toll : 500+
    Central Aid to Tamil Nadu : 1940 Crore
    Kerala Aid to Tamil Nadu : ZERO
    (Note : It was NDA Government in Center, AIADMK in Tamil Nadu & Congress Govt in Kerala)
    3. Gujarat Floods (2017)
    Death Toll : 224
    Central Aid to Gujarat : 500 Crore + 2 Lac for Death + 50K for Injured
    Kerala Aid to Gujarat : ZERO
    (Note : It was NDA Government in Center, Gujarat & CPI Govt in Kerala)
    4. Bihar Floods (2017)
    Death Toll : 514
    Central Aid to Bihar : 500 Crore + 2 Lac for Death + 50K for Injured
    Kerala Aid to Bihar : ZERO
    (Note : It was NDA Government in Center, Bihar & CPI Govt in Kerala)
    5. Assam Floods (2017)
    Death Toll : 85
    Central Aid to Assam : 340 Crore
    Kerala Aid to Assam : ZERO
    (Note : It was NDA Government in Center, Assam & CPI Govt in Kerala)
    *6. Kerala Floods-2018*
    Death Toll : 357
    *Central Aid to Kerala :* *920 Crore + 2 Lac for Death + 50K for Injured + Various Schemes and Benefits.*
    *Uttarakhand Aid to Kerala : 10 Crore.*
    *TamilNadu Aid to Kerala : 5 Crore.*
    *Gujarat Aid to Kerala : 10 Crore.*
    *Bihar Aid to Kerala : 10 Crore.*
    *Assam Aid to Kerala : 3 Crore.*
    *(Note : It is BJP Government in Center, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Bihar, Assam and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu & CPI Govt in Kerala)*
    Why Anti National Lobby is making Buzz of of that in case of ‘Kerala Floods’ and trying to put Present NDA Central Government in Bad light ?
    Why Luteyens are creating North-South divide ? Instead of doing Help, Why Missioneries are Protesting ?
    Now you know the intentions! Want to bring back Congress and let the loot start again

  7. Sam says:

    Is the central government not giving enough support to the Kerala floods?
    *Neeraj, Indian politics stories*

    Please have a look at following facts & figures:

    1. Uttarakhand Floods (2013)
    Death Toll : 5748

    Central Aid to Uttarakhand : 1000 Crore

    Kerala Aid to Uttarakhand : ZERO

    (Note : It was UPA Government in Center, Uttarakhand & Kerala)

    2. Tamil Nadu Floods (2015Death Toll : 500+

    Central Aid to Tamil Nadu : 1940 Crore

    Kerala Aid to Tamil Nadu : ZERO

    (Note : It was NDA Government in Center, AIADMK in Tamil Nadu & Congress Govt in Kerala)

    3. Gujarat Floods (2017)

    Death Toll : 224

    Central Aid to Gujarat : 500 Crore + 2 Lac for Death + 50K for Injured

    Kerala Aid to Gujarat : ZERO

    (Note : It was NDA Government in Center, Gujarat & CPI Govt in Kerala)

    4. Bihar Floods (2017)

    Death Toll : 514

    Central Aid to Bihar : 500 Crore + 2 Lac for Death + 50K for Injured

    Kerala Aid to Bihar : ZERO

    (Note : It was NDA Government in Center, Bihar & CPI Govt in Kerala)

    5. Assam Floods (2017)

    Death Toll : 85

    Central Aid to Assam : 340 Crore

    Kerala Aid to Assam : ZERO

    (Note : It was NDA Government in Center, Assam & CPI Govt in Kerala)

    *6. Kerala Floods-2018*

    Death Toll : 357

    *Central Aid to Kerala :* *920 Crore + 2 Lac for Death + 50K for Injured + Various Schemes and Benefits.*

    *Uttarakhand Aid to Kerala : 10 Crore.*

    *TamilNadu Aid to Kerala : 5 Crore.*

    *Gujarat Aid to Kerala : 10 Crore.*

    *Bihar Aid to Kerala : 10 Crore.*

    *Assam Aid to Kerala : 3 Crore.*

    *(Note : It is BJP Government in Center, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Bihar, Assam and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu & CPI Govt in Kerala)*

    Why Anti National Lobby is making Buzz of of that in case of ‘Kerala Floods’ and trying to put Present NDA Central Government in Bad light ?
    Why Luteyens are creating North-South divide ? Instead of doing Help, Why Missioneries are Protesting ?

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