How resilient is India?

The months of June/July for emergency practitioners is the month of immediate action, for media is fodder for news and of course for the people a season that begins with rains followed by floods. The administration is often seen claiming for making adequate preparation and having everything ready for the monsoons to arrive, but often these faulty claims are washed away with the first heavy showers and downpour. In major cities like Mumbai or Delhi, gaping holes in roads, heavy traffic blocks, overflowing sewages, overflooded railway tracks, washed-down settlements are common sights of the dismal preparations by the administration. While in other regions of India, where monsoon remains a season of dread and danger such as Assam or the northern hilly regions, heavy rains and recurring floods have become a regular phenomena, integral to their lives and preparedness to deal with it. No matter how much India has moved ahead in emergency planning and disaster management, the losses and damages, as well as deaths following such ‘natural’ disasters are not validating the claims of being a ‘disaster resilient nation and people’. Where are we lacking, where do we draw our lessons and how do we implement our ideas into policy and action? These issues are debated and discussed over national television, universities, closed -door meetings, agency workshops and coordination meetings, but how close has anyone come to see any action? at any level – national or state policy, local communities or responding agencies?

How often do our lessons get lost in the complexities and interplay of politics, economics and social and administrative factors? How often are our actions rendered minuscule in the larger goals and objectives of development of regions and masses beyond any differences?

The deaths of more than 1200 people in the flash floods in Uttarakhand, variously termed by politicians as the ‘Himalayan Tsunami’ may sound as a wake-up call to many, who may discuss and promise action, but soon ignore and overlook these underlying causes and we wait another impending disaster to happen. Transforming societies in the modern age, informed and agitated youth in various other countries have showed us the power that resides in collective action for a common cause, from the Arab spring revolutions to the recent Gezi protests in Turkey. But how often is any window of opportunity maximised for a policy change and transformation within societies, agencies or nations? India has a challenging role to play, being a leader in the South Asian region, and a functioning democracy and emerging economy in the global South, how does it treat its commons and the issues they suffer in their day-to-day lives?

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