[Assam] Editorial from Tehelka
jaipurschool at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 23 14:12:48 EST 2005
It is the same psyche - doing charity work is considered a blue collar job - unfit for leaders. So throw money from afar rather than go among the people and provide for the needy and help them become independent (self-dependent).
Chan Mahanta <cmahanta at charter.net> wrote:
The Humiliation of Relief
We Indians are accustomed to the idea of India as a corrupt State.
Even then, this has been a season of particular mortification.
Parliament questions can be bought. mp funds can be bought. We've
known it all, now we are shown it all. There is little one can
believe sacred in this country. Now comes the most mortifying fact of
them all. In India, even relief can routinely become disaster. This
is not just a product of corruption; it is something even more
humiliating: It is the absence of thought. Of respect. Of basic human
regard. We are accustomed to the idea of India as a feudal State. The
stampede deaths in Chennai give this idea urgent brutal shape.
Ceaseless rain. Floods. Acute discomfort. More than 4,000 people
lining up for relief tokens linked to merely three public
distribution shops. Lining up 12 hours in advance because in our
country there is always the fear there will not be enough. And then
the sudden rush in the belly of the night. A mad scramble and 42
dead. A lead picture of three children weeping inconsolably. Then the
heaping ironies. Instant relief for the dead: Rs 1 lakh. Much less
for the living and hurting: Rs 15,000.
The Indian State does not hand out relief, it flings
it at us
Chennai echoes Lucknow: 22 dead stampeding for cheap Rs 40 nylon
saris. The shadow of Kashmir and the Andamans looms over it all.
Terrible disasters of earth and sky and what is the relief we send?
Trucks of sanitary napkins the tribals finally use as pillows, and
thin cotton for a bitter winter. No tents even two months later. Much
has been written about the absence of disaster and relief planning in
India. Corruption and bewilderment abound. No systems kick in. But
the real neuroses run deeper. The humiliating story of relief
measures in India is the humiliating story of our latent unresolved
We stampede because we are a people bred without the idea of
entitlement. The State owes its citizens nothing. It does not hand
out relief; it flings it at us. Crumbs chucked without thought or
regard or propriety. No information given, no order imposed. No calm
transmitted: There will be enough for all. With each disdainful
chuck, the wounded are reduced to the craven.
The drowning of New Orleans roused heated debate about racial
discrimination in the US. In India, it is not just one town. Ninety
percent of the country is vulnerable to the humiliation of relief.
And ten percent of us do a favour if we think we care.
Dec 31 , 2005
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Ed.M. - International Education Policy
Harvard Graduate School of Education,
Class of 2005
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