God has his way or does he! The recent disaster in Uttarakhand striking the god-loving pilgrims in Kedarnath, Badrinath and others areas in the state can be interpreted as the wrath of Lord Shiva by his devotees, but it can also be the lack of a sound disaster management plan and timely weather warnings that had more to do with the natural disaster going out of control even as 80,000 people (roughly) were stranded across the state.
Uttarakhand is known as the land of gods and the images of recent devastation and landslides where over 822 people (roughly) are feared dead make it all the more shocking in times when technology, gadgets, and transport facilities like helicopters have made great advances for disaster management. Natural disasters are beyond human control yet the damage can be managed and controlled to a great extent. But you cannot do it if you are importing satellite phones from Hong Kong four days after the disaster to handout to disaster recovery personnel.
The Indian Army, Indian Air Force, ITBP, NDRF, and the Para-commandos (GARUD) personnel deserve kudos for their relentless rescue operations reaching remote corners of the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand. These unsung heroes set an example in selfless service displaying extra-ordinary strength, discipline and comradeship in the face of calamity. The unfortunate incident of a chopper crashing down during a rescue operation that recently cost lives twenty rescue personnel (from IAF, NDRF, Army etc.) make you salute the courage and determination of the trained forces. The rescue and evacuation operations include building temporary bridges for on-foot rescues and also airlifting people. The undying spirit of these personnel to rescue people deserves a round of applause for the determination in treading difficult terrains at the cost of risking their lives.
On year-round pilgrimages in India, I wonder given the fact that India has several high remote and high-altitude spiritual areas like the Vaishno Devi, Mansarover, Amarnath etc. and there is a regular congregation of people at those locations, why are there no arrangements by the very wealthy trusts of these institutions for the welfare of pilgrims? If the state government machinery is not adequate then the trusts need to do something as the pilgrims and pilgrimages are an integral part of these spiritual destinations. Also during disasters politicians need to get out of the way and make sure that they let disaster relief teams do their job and make sure that every person is treated equally as they are to Lord Shiva!
Your thoughts are welcome.
Sanjay Puri has been working on Indian-American issues and facilitating stronger US-India relations through USINPAC (US India Political Action Committee) and AUSIB (Alliance for US India Business), two bipartisan organizations that he chairs.