Our state is currently passing through a rare scene.
Kerala is in a consternation following a devastating deluge. Incessant rains and the roaring flood have claimed the lives of more than thirty people. More than ten people have gone missing. All 14 districts have been hit by the heavy rains. Red alert had to be sounded in 8 districts. For the first time in history, all the dams in Kerala were opened. There are hundreds of isolated areas which have been surrounded by flood waters. Over 60,000 people have sought refuge in relief camps. The complete figures regarding the number of roads damaged, farm lands inundated, loss of pet animals and the buildings destroyed either partially or fully, are yet to come out. The government has so far estimated a loss of Rs 8,316 crores. In short, people are in the throes of surviving the devastation of the biggest and most widespread deluge in recent history.
The first step to survive a mishap is a government machinery that is functionally akin to an oiled machine. Keeping aside isolated exceptions that arise naturally, the government systems have displayed efficiency in a laudable manner. The services provided by the people from all quarters ranging from village office staff to the Chief Minister ignoring their lives as well as time are much appreciable and exude hope of surviving the destruction unleashed by the mishap. The most important among the isolated mishaps is the complaint by the Wayanad district collector that the Banasura dam was opened without any warning. A n inquiry should be carried out about those responsible for this negligence that caused large scale devastation and action should be taken against them. Their irresponsible actions have dimmed the light of the laudable services provided by all the government employees during the time of flood.
The helping hand of the Centre and other state governments is certainly invaluable and one which brings relief. Benevolence and care of compassionate people supported by their cohesion with service oriented charities are another way out to overcome the times of disaster. The number of NGOs and associations that came forward setting aside their priorities and bringing relief to the flood-affected people since day one makes every Keralite proud. Corporate bigwigs, NRIs, cultural personalities and common man have all come forward to wipe away the tears of the hapless victims and lend them support. They are the oasis of hope during the time of deluge. That we can make a human collective full of goodness and forgetting differences, indeed constitutes a great act and the oxygen to survive. And the spectacle in the valleys of tragedy is one of those rushing to the scene out of care and compassion, helping the ones caught in crisis tide over it.
However, going by past experience, at least on some occasions voluntary service tends to stop with short-term relief work in rehabilitation camps. Perhaps under the tempting influence of social media, disaster tourism and selfie craze even in spots of tragedy, are on the rise among us. But more dangerous is the widespread tendency to indiscriminately post pictures and texts of sympathy, and make them viral in the guise of compassion, thereby hurting the self-respect of the victims. And there are also the rare ones who, without knowing the value of voluntary service, set out to earn instant fame - an act which may poison the entire virtue of all voluntary bodies. The concept of compassion is synonymous with holding the ones who have lost their dear and near ones close to ourselves, and becoming their source of succour. Being a helping hand is not about throwing some used clothes or giving bits of financial aid, but on the contrary it is comprises protecting their honour and radiating hope thus giving them the stamina for survival.
No doubt, all voluntary outfits should have the memory of what happened to the rescue and help drives shining with sacrifice, after the Tsunami tragedy. That should teach us that the civic society too has an obligation to ensure that the ceaseless efforts of voluntary organizations and the gracious response of the public, reach the right hands. Let those memories render the government and voluntary groups capable of surviving the current flood in due manner.