IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
The visual media is into the business of producing images. Sometimes, just sometimes, they become iconic. For disasters there is a recognisable visual trope -- hungry people chasing, looting or scrabbling when a relief convoy happens by. Just as the hands-folded image of a man facing death became the final representation of the Gujarat riots. In the first case, just stop and think: yes hungry, deprived people are desperate -- but that doesn't make them the creatures television makes them out to be.
The protagonists of the following story are the fisherfolk of Tamil Nadu, the state hardest hit by last year's tsunami. They are among the poorest of people in the country -- their sources of livelihood amongst the most fragile. They cannot afford to keep their lives on hold, whatever the magnitude of the disaster that befalls them. And as it happened, they didn't. Life didn't magically return to the tenuous normality that is their lot anyway -- it still hasn't. But pretty much from day one, they started picking themselves up -- by themselves.
This is also a story about those who helped and those who hindered -- wittingly or unwittingly. The state government made honest efforts to dispense relief and to rehabilitate those struck by lightning. They were hampered by a lack of perspective, the inability to plan and by the rigidities of rules. ngo s tried to help. In some places they succeeded -- especially when they tried to forge genuine partnerships and build bottom upwards. Often they failed -- especially when in imitation of leviathan bureaucracy they took the top-downwards approach. For a variety of reasons, mostly systemic, the rehabilitation agenda was denied the expertise of groups -- like scientists -- who could have made a difference. And so, a great opportunity to rectify a lot that was wrong was lost.
But this story is not principally about them. It is about the people who are still picking up the pieces. About the people who are still not completely at ease with themselves or the hunting grounds they knew so well -- and into which they cannot venture without trepidation.
Report by T V Jayan; Photographs by Pradip Saha
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