I waited before penning this article about the Chennai floods as I did not want people to divert their attention from the actual work going on there. Also I am of the personal belief that at times like these the stuff that should be shared on social media are helpline numbers and information that is actually useful for the people affected by the calamity. Not ramblings from someone sitting miles away in the comfort of his thinking space.
Let me start off by saying… The deluge that hit Chennai was a mix of a freak of nature and decades of mismanagement. The losses to residents in terms of material and personal have been devastating and it will be a while before the whole city is back on its feet.
What was truly heartwarming was the way the Chennaiites stepped up to the situation and decided to take matters in their own hands before things disintegrate in the political squabble that would have otherwise erupted in such dire situations considering the shameless vote bank politics our country is famous for. I am truly proud of the way my fellow Indians in Chennai conducted themselves during these extremely intense days. A big salute to all of you out there!!!
The Chennai floods did manage to bring out a few things into the public eye and “wash” away a lot of the misconceptions that tend to override common sense with the general public. I will not talk about how the film fraternity stood up and donated money or took to the streets to help the needy. They were doing their bit as residents of the city and everyone is thankful to them. No need to glorify the matter anymore.
Our political representatives are utterly useless.
In the days that Chennai was battling the floods, I could not find a single news worthy article highlighting how the elected representatives of Chennai are helping out the residents either personally or using their authority. J. Jayavardhan (South Chennai), S. R. Vijayakumar (Central Chennai) and T. G. Venkatesh Babu (North Chennai) all from the AIADMK where nowhere near their constituencies. T.G. Venkatesh Babu however was present in parliament asking the Center to release funds for the rescue operations.
Apart from this, the blatant shameless act of forcing relief workers to splash the relief material collected with photos of the Chief Minister J Jayalalitha as a political stunt was downright ________. I do not have a word in my limited vocabulary to describe how pathetic it was. Even if the relief material was actually arranged by the state government, this was so ________ that it made Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag look dignified. Let us not talk about the attempts to hoard the supplies that came from #AnboduKochi and the amazing billboards erected praising the ruling party.
This was the one time the politicians could have actually done something good in their political career but they chose not to.
Humanity is bigger than any religion
With the whole intolerance debate going around and how Muslims and RSS workers were being branded as extremists and terrorists, it would have been a tight slap in the face of all the skeptics when these very same people came out in the open supporting the relief works. Mosques and madrasas opened their doors to everyone irrespective of their religious faiths to take refuge. Ashrams and temples went beyond their devotees and provided food to every person they could reach. RSS workers went out on the streets in their khaki shorts and helped all those who were in need without asking for ones religious stand.
These were acts of people and not religiously motivated by any means. If religion were to have played a major factor, then the type of “help” provided would more or less resemble the Christian Evangelists in Africa… “Convert and be blessed with food and water.” This did not happen. Mainly because the people of Chennai raised themselves above all those petty inclinations and let the higher purpose of humanity take over.
The “National” Media could not care less.
I am seriously appalled by the Indian media. Not because they did not give enough airtime to the plight of the Chennai makkal but because the clout they could have used to spread the word far before things got this bad might have helped a great deal. Spreading awareness of hotline numbers, rescue points, volunteer details, food stations etc could have helped the people in and outside Chennai contribute in their own way. This is what the nation ACTUALLY WANTS TO KNOW!!!
By the way, is the weather not part of the news anymore??? Even if the state government did not heed the warnings of the Met department, do the news channels not have the moral responsibility to warn the public of the impending storm and the floods? I mean, apart from creating mass hysteria and sensationalizing trivial incidents, it would have been a welcome relief to see them do their job for a change. What surprises me even more is that news channels that manage to find anybody and everybody to fill their chairs for mindless debates could not get an official statement from the government on this matter.
You not only live in the city, the city lives in you
One of the most profound things that came out was the fact that the “Chennai” floods did not affect only Tamillians and it was not only Tamillians who came out to save their city. Everyone who calls Chennai home came out in support or was on the receiving end of some help or the other. This clearly puts to rest the oft heard argument that Chennai is not friendly to non Tamillians. Might be true in bits and pieces is small pockets around the city, but hey the generalization will stop now.
Chennai is home to a huge variety of cultural backgrounds with people from all parts of the country calling it home. Most people have never even been to their “original” hometown and quite proudly state that they are from Chennai. You will find Malayalees, Jains, Marwadis, Punjabis, and not to mention people from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar etc who have lived in Chennai all their lives and speak the Chennai slang of Tamil to perfection. How all of them banded together to lift the city from a watery grave is what the whole of India needs to stand up and pay attention to.
One last thing I would like to say is that my respect for the INDIAN ARMY has increased tenfold. The Armed forces has time and again that they are the ones whom we can turn to save us no matter what the situation. It is high time the Armed Forces are put up there with the Mighty 3 of Bureaucracy, Democracy and Judiciary.
This clearly shows all of us that we do not need Gods, Media or our Politicians… All we need are human beings who show humanity.