Though I wished I could start my first post for the new year with a “Happy” posting, it is about Tsunami everywhere – Radio, TV, Newspaper, Friends, Neighbourhood & even in office. So I toe the line.
The New Year celebrations this year was anything but Jubilant. In Chennai, just couple of hours before the midnight on 31st I drove down to several parts of the city – Mount Road “Spencer Plaza”, Radhakrishnan Salai, Pondy Bazaar, Panagal Park, Nungambakkam, Marina Beach and other normally “Busy” districts. Normally on a festival day/holiday these places will be crowded with people, flashing lights and colourful display in every shop, hotels and bars overflowing with music & with people. But all this was absent this time. Many hotels cancelled their New Year parties; government too cancelled all its New Year celebrations. Understandable!. How can you celebrate when in the first place you are still unable to come to terms and comprehend the happenings of December the 26th.
In all the media – Radio, TV & Newspaper people are being encouraged to look forward to the new year with hope for better. I feel this positive outlook itself is for better – when media is not reporting about human killings (terrorists, bombs, human destruction), wars, political fighting’s and corruptions. For someone like me who is born and brought-up in India, Government Machinery’s inefficiency, bureaucracy and its in-humane attitude is common. Even when a tragedy happens, the machinery doesn’t change its behaviour. But all this seems to be “untrue” for the Tsunami relief efforts. Though initially media claimed slow response from government machinery (across the sub-continent), everyone seems to be acknowledging now that it has improved for better drastically. It seems impossible for anyone (even the UN) to have comprehended the scale of the disaster as it happened and to react.
It is also satisfying to see the entire world to have responded immediately and comprehensively to help the victims. Right from USA to Japan, Russia to Australia, governments, NGOs, individuals are all helping the victims. In fact, even though it was affected India has pledged US$25 Million to help Sri Lanka. Almost all the websites from Google to Chennaionline , Microsoft to Apple carried links prominently calling for help. In a BBC interview yesterday, I saw Sri Lankan Health Minister acknowledging the international help and he said they have already got adequate medicines and pharmaceutical supplies to tide over this devastation (the speed at which Aid has come for Tsunami is really surprising, if this is the result of Technology/Communication and Globalization; then I am in full favour of Globalization). Tourists are coming back to Thai Resorts – though no “Resorts” exist now, they are coming back so that the people who live there, who depend on Tourist/Foreigners’ money can have their livelihood. Almost all the tourist who come are turning into volunteers.
Near home, even in the street where I live, the local “Exnora” (A neighbourhood association) volunteers yesterday came door-to-door collecting aids/utencils/food/money for the victims. They are going in person to villages in Nagapattinam (in South Tamilnadu) and distributing the aid.All these show signs of caring and co-operation across the world, a sign of true brotherhood and friendship. Probably what years of round table discussions, United Nations couldn’t achieve is now achievable b’cos of a tragedy. I feel, like how “9/11“ changed the world order forever, the Indian Subcontinent Tsunami is changing the world for ever. If 9/11 helped us all understand the evils of global terrorism, the Sumatra Tsunami is helping us all to come together as “Humans“.Tsunami related links: