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We are in the same boat brothers??*

September 13, 2008

Much as I hate politicising natural calamities, I ,along with scores of my friends from the North East, can’t help but be appalled at this obvious discrimination by the Central Government and the biased approach of the national media.

Two states, sharing borders (many thanks to Kopili for pointing out the big error ), facing the same calamity.(Ok, now who ever can come up with an apt way to write the preceding sentence after striking that out, gets a gift!! :-))  Yet one has only to open the national papers to see which one has been the favoured child,so to speak.

By now ,we all must have seen endless shots and images of the ravages of the Kosi river. Incidentally, if you only move your finger a centimetre to the east of Bihar on the map of India, you will notice see another state  which has been  affected, as much,if not more ,by the annual flooding of the Brahmaputra. Two million people have already been displaced and about 1,500 villages submerged.  (Source : BBC ).And I am only talking about the numbers for this year, after the second flash floods. Comparing statistics might be the worst way to go about it, but if that is what it takes to draw attention so be it.In case anyone missed those 2-3 seconds when the national media actually flashed a little about the floods in Assam you can read it , here and here and here

The  biggest slap on the face , I think, was when the Lok Sabha Speaker ,Somnath Chatterjee, asked each MP to donate a sum of Rs. 25 lakh from the Local Area Development fund in aid of the  Bihar floods. And for once the M.P.s from the North East spoke up instead of kowtowing to the demands of some fat ass Party Supremo from the Hindi speaking heartland.

I quote here from a  local daily:

/*********************************************************************************************\

Cutting across party barriers Congress, BJP and AGP had refused to respond to the Speaker’s appeal unless the collected fund was divided between Assam and Bihar.

Congress MP from Assam Kirip Chaliha will not pay any money for flood relief in Bihar. Addressing a press conference in Guwahati on Monday, Chaliha said he is ready to urge both Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari to issue an appeal to help Assam flood victims in the same line.

Chaliha said, “the Assam MPs are unhappy over the fact that Mr Chatterjee has issued an appeal only for Bihar when similar destruction has taken place in Assam also.”.

The MP from Guwahati made it clear that he would not respond to the appeal of the Speaker of donating Rs 25 lakh by each MP from the local area development fund for the flood victims in Bihar.

According to Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) MP Arun Kumar Sarma, ”Assam is also under water like Bihar and I do not think my inner sense will respond to the Speaker’s call that Rs 25 lakh from the MP local area development fund should be handed over to Bihar for relief and rehabilitation when there are so many things to be done in Assam,” said whose constituency is the most flood prone of the region.
BJP MP Rajen Gohain said, he would also follow the suit adding, “‘when my own house is under water why and how should we help others? The ruling Congress too has joined the growing chorus.
Meanwhile, AGP MP Sarbananda Sonowal had already wrote it to the Vice-President as well as the Lok Sabha Speaker on the same issue urging them to intervene on behalf of Assam.

/*****************************************************************************************************\

This is Puthimari, a village 45 kilometers west of Guwahati, my home town

Can you blame the ULFA for jumping on to this opportunity to criticise the central government’s attitude towards the flood affected people of Assam. A couple of other organizations have also attacked the chief minister Tarun Gogoi for failing to secure a similar relief package for Assam.

How many more bodies to be washed away before a local flood becomes a national calamity? I remember reading in the papers that even within Bihar the rescue efforts were sharply divided along the caste lines, with the upper caste Hindus ,as usual,getting the better deal. (very much like in Titanic, I must say !!). That issue as raised quite a furore,but of course not a word has been heard about the rescue efforts in Assam.

P.S.- I am not,even for once, suggesting that the havoc created in Bihar is any less grave (as if death and despair can be measured), but is it fair for the Central Government of a country which calls itself a “Union of states”, to be so obviously callous about one part of the country.

And this when the Prime Minister’s constituency is Dispur, Guwahati!!!

* Paul Robeson song which greatly influenced Bhupen Hazarika.Listen to  his rendition of the song here .!!!

And to all my Assamese friends, who clicked on the last link, hope it bought back memories of  Bihutolis!!!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2008 2:55 pm

    this is such a huge calamity! and i am ashamed to admit i didn’t have any idea.

    if possible, could you also put up info on ways general junta like me can help in whatever little way.
    Me : Have asked around for some reliable online donation sites and NGOs working for this.Will definitely let you know.

  2. sid permalink
    September 14, 2008 10:58 pm

    u r right…its a shame really…it was covered by media for sure..but yes i agree not much has been done in terms of monetary help..the focus has been only on Bihar..though there too people awakened to the reality 10 days late or so!!..surprising no one has raised the issue on Assam yet.

  3. September 15, 2008 3:09 pm

    And finally Home Minister Patil has paid lip service to the issue by saying something about 500 crores yesterday. Some things don’t change – you either wait for centuries till they become irrelevant, or you go ahead and do something drastic to change them.
    ME : Please let us know in case you find any online sites to contribute for the Assam floods!

  4. Anu permalink
    September 15, 2008 5:29 pm

    Did you notice one word in the news, ANNUAL FLOOD. If it is annual, then the govt knows well advance this might happen still no mechanism to prevent it or to warn locals. Again in next summer govt is ready to point at water shortage all this rain water now is already wasted. And their apathy towards north eastern states is well known.

    Let me also know the reliable charity.
    Me : As of now, could only find the PM relief fund site.Gimme a coupe of weeks!After all Assam is the Land of Lahe Lahe -figure that out 🙂

  5. September 16, 2008 9:28 pm

    Its one country for heaven’s sake.. whats this with giving funds to one state and the other? But this statement particularly irked me “‘when my own house is under water why and how should we help others? “… that’s why you are a politician.. so that you can help others.. if only people would put aside their differences.. of state borders, of caste and whatever else they want to pile on it, and help the needy!

    On a similar note I wrote this recently. Do read!
    Me :
    Exactly!! If its one country then how come the Central Government is helping out Bihar and turning a blind eye to Assam? But as a leader of a constituency he has some responsibility towards people of his constituency. It would have been easier for him to simply donate the money to Bihar please his Party bosses and thus ensure a ticket for himself the next elections, isn’t it?

  6. Galadriel permalink
    September 17, 2008 1:25 am

    ok, this morning i logged into reader and found 2 posts from you. and now there’s only one. what happened to the sperm donor post eh? (have fun answering that question 😀 )

    back to your current post, yes, it is indeed shameful and unless we speak up against the injustice, people will not take notice either.
    Me : : Oh now I get it . Damn those readers :-P.. Ok Ok here comes the other post,just wanted people to actually read about the floods in assam 😦 thats why didn’t publish that post so soon

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