Sunday, October 13, 2013

Vijay Dashami / Dushera - Mixed Bag of Emotions in 2013

So its the festive season of the year. We know as to why we call this day Vijay Dashami - its the day when Ram won over Ravan i.e. the victory of good over evil. Different parts of India have their own way of celebrations like Durga Puja by the Bengalis, Garba- Dandiya by Gujaratis, Navraatra by North Indians and worship of Saraswati by the South Indians. Many of today's kids only look forward to these days as days of 'Celebrations' by Cadburys and a Dressing Up / Down cum Dancing festivals!

Today, on the Dushera day of 2013, I'm having mixed feelings. On one side, hapy about the festivities, catching up with near and dear ones but on the other hand, sad about the super-cyclone Phailin affecting coastal Anshra and Odisha. We are barely 2 months away from the massive tragedy at Uttarakhand and now this. Fortunately, this time, we had enough warning in advance to be able to evacuate a large section of the potential areas but devastation will follow through nevertheless.

I had yesterday tweeted about how nature unfurls its fury in its own way. India, the land of reservations - can anybody in the Indian government or bureaucracy now have a word with Phailin? 52% reservation for SC/ST/OBC and minorties so please ensure that these people are not affected? Can Maoists fight back Phailin for their rights?

Nature has always been ruthless when it decides to unfurl its fury just as it is impartial whilst gifting us its natural resources. I sincerely hope that the damage from Phailin is less severe than the tragedy of Uttarakhand. If Vijay Dashami is victory of Good over Evil, then the verdict is very clear. We Indians have become rakshasas like Ravan ever hungry to exploit gifts of nature and monetize them. We end up fighting with each other and push things to the limit in pursuit of money, power and prestige. So from time to time, nature has to take some action and make us humble and realize how cunning and stupid we have become.

As much as I hope that both the government and people realize their mistakes, Im not that optimistic. Our governments and bureaucracy will take this as another grand opportunity to siphon of millions [perhaps billions] of tax payers' money meant for relief for the affected people. At the same time, the Telangana and Seemandhra issue will get more vociferous and a full scale political drama will unfurl.

We, the people can only do 3 things; first and foremost, realize that we are human beings much before we categorize ourselves as Hindus, Muslims and then into Kannadigas and Teluguites, Brahmins, Kshatriyas etc. Second, we the people need to objectively evaluate whether our constituency leaders are simply doing things to gain political mileage or are genuinely concerned about our well being and vote accordingly. Most important, we need to cultivate 'empathy' [not sympathy or apathy] for the affected people. Sympathy means we end up demeaning the affected people and try to unburden ourselves by merely donating cash and supplies. Apathy means we simply don't care as long as we are not affected [that is what is the attitude most contemporary Indians have] In 2013, we will have witnessed natural calamities affecting almost 20% of geographical terrain of India and the huge challenge of rebuilding lives [which can take at least 5 years]

First and foremost, our affected brethren need food, clothing and shelter. Our armed forces are doing their best within the limited resources they have. I hope corporates and people move forward to lending resources to ensure basic well-being. There will be a lot of logistical support needed for the same and we should take up a cue from our ASEAN leaders [both government and corporates] who ensured full support when the tsunami struck in Dec 2004.

So Happy Dushera to all of us lucky to have been saved from nature's wrath for now. Let us hope to convert ourselves into living in harmony with nature and weeding out the Ravans who are taking us for a royal ride at our own expense.