Cyclone Yaas

One cyclone coming soon after another and that too in pandemic times need not and should not lead to a sense of helplessness. The country has  the capacity to overcome bigger challenges, and this has been revealed several times in the middle of great difficulties. In a more specific context,  frontline coastal states like Odisha and West Bengal have shown significant improvements in cyclone related preparations and rescue efforts. At the  level of its wide coastal region, the nation has improved the warning systems.

However we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. As there are definite and proven signs that  the threat from disasters in general and cyclones in particular in times of climate change is increasing, we need to improve our disaster-preparedness ss much more.

Have we progressed on this front? Certainly yes. Have we progressed adequately keeping in view the fast growing threats from this disaster? Probably not.

Even with a realization that our achievements so far have been limited, we may assert with confidence that we as a nation  are capable of bigger things, and this capability increases further with better cooperation with neighbors. A cyclone storm sees no boundaries in its blind assault. The ability to help in times of distress and disaster too should have no boundaries. Increasing cooperation in reducing distress and responding to disasters will be certainly beneficial for all countries of South Asia.

Coming back to limits of our own achievements as well as to failings , let us recognize that we as a nation could have done much better to prepare for the much more difficult and challenging times of climate change if we were not so hindered by many weaknesses and imperfections. Difficult times must be times of greater unity. Has national unity, whether based on faith or caste or region, improved or weakened in recent times? These difficult times should be times of greater unity and understanding between the  centre and states. Has the spirit and practice of cooperative federalism improved or weakened in recent times? Has the capacity of the ruling party at the centre to work with opposition parties to together face difficult times in a spirit of cooperation improved or declined? Difficult times are times of moving away from narrow selfish interests. Have corruption and corrupt system been checked or enhanced in recent times in the country? Unfortunately the answer to all these questions is that in all these important respects there is a visible decline, not progress.

The ability to respond better to climate change and the increasing disasters does not consist only of rescue efforts  and relief measures. Immediately of course these are the most important factors, but taking a wider view  the other aspects mentioned above are all very important.

Just now the nation’s thoughts are with those who have suffered in the cyclones. Imagine the  people who have suffered much due to pandemic and loss of livelihood and are now affected badly  in new storms. The first priority of course must be to help them as much as possible immediately. But in due course we must also give adequate attention to the wider improvements that will enhance our ability to face the new challenges and difficulties in more effective ways.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign for Saving the Earth Now With its SED Demand.



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