Sunday, September 14, 2014

Disaster Choreography

On board a Konkan Railway train
 A couple of months ago, the incessant rains caused an ill-constructed neighbouring wall to collapse on the compound wall of our residential complex and they both came crashing down. Fortunately - rather, miraculously - no one was injured and there was little damage to any property except for the wall itself.

The South Goa Planning and Development Authority has thoughtfully created a "District Disaster Management Authority". Unfortunately, in doing so, they raised my expectation. And so it was, that I was taken aback when, on submitting a written communication asking them to help, the idiot lady (I do believe "idiot" is a unisex word) sleepily asked us to check back after 8 days to know the "status" of our "complaint" without so much as bothering to read or know what we had come to report.

I don't mean to single out the SGPDA for this non-response. Indeed, as a nation, and perhaps as a race, we have not (yet) internalized the notion and the significance of disaster preparedness and recovery.

But what churns my stomach, is the "choreography" that goes into any and every disaster we are faced with. When I say "choreography", I don't mean it as a metaphor for "manufacturing" the disaster in the first place; rather, I am really referring to the post-incident posturing that we seem to have become experts at.

From the Arnabs who wallow in their own superciliousness to clueless political figureheads who just want some airtime, we have no dearth of entities who add absolutely no value. Not even to their own faces or to their own (dis)repute.

The long-decayed-icing on the cake though, is this:

Pictures predominantly from PIB

If there's anything and anyone that can make the scripts of Ekta Kapoor's "K brigade" look like a Steven Spielberg potboiler, it simply has to be the idea and its inventor (perhaps the brainchild of Doordarshan) of making us watch politicians watch disaster-prone areas. And for this, I would blame the media more than the politicians.

Aerial survey of a disaster-struck zone - sad as it may be - is newsworthy. But covering a politician peering out of a plane purportedly flying over a disaster zone? Now, that's a disaster.

Just so you can gauge for yourself, try this: do a Google image search for "aerial survey" and then search for "aerial survey of disaster". See the results that show up for each. The pictures will speak a thousand words.

Since we now have a PM who has after ages delivered a I-Day speech from the heart instead of by-heart, who has stepped in to question why so many scrooges needed to accompany the athletes to Incheon, and who has asked people to assist in J&K aid instead of celebrating his birthday - and hopefully truly meant all of those - I will rely on him to please stop this parody+travesty+ignominy of "disaster recovery".

Please, Mr. PM. We need true disaster prevention, preparedness and recovery. No more disaster choreography.


No comments: