By Nicky Collins:
Blame is a lazy man’s way of making sense out of chaos. As I was reading about the devastating floods that have ravaged one of the most scenic states of our country, I could feel the familiar urge to point my finger at someone or something. Yes, at many points of our life, we do like to take the easy way out from a disaster by simply blaming it on others. But the floods in Uttarakhand prove to be a very complicated situation if you look at it closely.
The first finger, when it comes to even the tiniest detail of the weather, is always pointed at God. But I think, given that most of the stranded people in Uttarakhand are pilgrims, we can safely exonerate God for the deluge. From what I have observed, blaming is a much relished activity in India. The government, of course, is everybody’s favorite punching bag. Criticizing the government is seen as a dignified way of acquitting ourselves of any responsibility to the country. Sometimes the range of people we blame for our state of affairs is ludicrous – the neighbor who lives six floors down, your boss, the prime minister or even aliens and UFOs. In fact, the only person who is worse than the average Indian when it comes to blaming is Mamta Banerjee — if the floods had happened in West Bengal, she would have unhesitatingly blamed it on the CPM, no matter what common sense dictates.
But here, I would like to provide an alternative viewpoint. What if we, the normal citizens, do deserve some culpability in this matter? Of course, I am not suggesting that any of us have the power to control the weather. But what if we are indirectly a little bit guilty when it comes to natural disasters in general?
True, it is the hydroelectric projects constructed by the government that has resulted in the instability of the soil strata that probably compounded the effect of the floods. But who uses the power from these dams? We do. Who is ready to bite off the heads of those in the government if they do not get electricity? We are. Who raises a hue and cry if the power cuts are too long? We do.
The lush greenery that plays a very important role in stabilizing the ecosystem of the hilly areas is also being cleared because we need to build settlements. There is also a very good chance that the freaky weather these days is a result of the adverse impact of human activity on the environment which has resulted in global warming already.
In this entire issue, a sense of unity was conspicuous by its absence. I was disgusted by reports that stated that some locals were taking advantage of these floods by inflating the cost of basic items like food many times over. And if articles in leading newspapers are to be believed, pickpockets made a killing while people were fleeing for their lives.
Whatever way we look at this issue, it is obvious that we are at fault in some or the other way. And although the culpability is not very obvious, we all understand that it is there. That brings us to the main question, ‘Are the Uttarakhand floods a manmade disaster?’ You bet.