God’s own country, Kerala is experiencing the wrath of nature from last one week and battering rains and landslides in the state have forced over 30,000 people to leave their homes and take shelter in relief camps. The situation is grim as over 215 landslides have occurred in the 444 villages which have been declared as flood-hit by the state government and the death toll which has touched 87 does not seem to halt. The damage to life and property has been alarming and the state which is known for its highest literacy rate and sex ratio in the country apart from being a haven for tourists is suffering in silence with little outside help and relief operations which have their roots confined in the state itself.
Ideally, this is not how relief operations work, in fact when one part of the country is affected by a natural disaster then it is the duty of the entire nation to come together and lend a helping hand to provide as much relief as possible to our brother and sisters who are suffering but this does not seem to be happening at all in Kerala right now. If we assess the scale of relief operations in some natural disasters which have previously occurred in our country then it will become evident that Kerala is being treated unfairly in terms of the help it is being offered from various stakeholders. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest tweets assuring help for the state is a welcoming step and I hope it transforms into actual relief assistance and rescue operations in Kerala. The nationalistic civil society organizations which are heavily funded by the central government should also now join in the relief operations after the intervention of the Prime Minister himself.
The flash floods in Kedarnath and adjoining areas in 2013 saw various stakeholders ranging from civil society organizations to the central and state governments and most importantly the common people joining hands to re build the region but nothing of that sort is visible in the scale of relief operations in Kerala. The Bhuj earthquake in 2001 and the floods in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014 also saw relief operations being carried out at large scale and people from all walks of life coming together to help their suffering brothers and sisters. In fact, what transpires after any natural disaster is a mass humanitarian movement aimed to help those who have suffered the fury of nature but nothing of that sort has happened in Kerala so far.
It is therefore important to understand and question the changes that have stopped the people of this country from uniting for Kerala and its people and standing with them in these turbulent times. The changing meaning of nation and nationalism in the era of post truth where only a certain people and their ideology is supposed to be nationalistic while all others are branded as anti-nationals is behind this silence suffering of the state. Kerala is the only state in the country which is being governed by a left party, an ideology which has been steadily and systematically branded as anti-national to the extent that anybody who is a follower of this ideology is shamed, threatened and eventually asked to go to Pakistan by the hate mongers on social media. It is therefore not surprising that hate mongers on social media are continuously discouraging people from donating to Kerala’s CMO relief fund stating that the money will be used for anti national activities and not for relief work.
This is a sad and disturbing state of affairs because if we do a reality and fact check then the contribution of the state to the development parameters have always been impeccable and best in the country, be it the highest literacy rate, the highest sex ratio or simply being at the top in terms of social progress measured through the social progress index. Thus, an entire body of politics affecting and hindering the rescue operations in Kerala cannot be ruled out and it is clearly evident that the state is paying the price for electing the only left government in the country.
These are testing times for civil society organizations and above all the people of India. It is important that these two forces join hands and stand in solidarity with the people of Kerala and contribute to the relief operations in the state. The political differences and ideologies should not come in the way of people receiving adequate help. Natural disasters often known for the destruction they bring with them also offer an opportunity to bring fore the spirit of humanity and that spirit should reign supreme in Kerala just like it has reigned supreme in all the testing times which our country has faced in the past.
The biggest disservice which we would do to humanity and to our nation is to turn a blind eye to our own brothers and sisters simply because their belief system is different from ours and hence the onus is now on us to save ourselves from committing this sin. I therefore urge to the central and various state governments, the civil society organizations and most importantly the people of India to stand with the people of Kerala in these testing times and contribute generously to the relief operations in the state.