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Friday, November 19, 1999 Published at 23:28 GMT


Orissa cyclone: Is enough being done?



Are the hapless victims of the cyclone now caught up in political bad feeling between the state and central governments? Or is the outside world partly to blame by being slow to respond? Or perhaps the task is so overwhelming that it will take time to help all those affected.

India might be able to spend more on disaster relief had it not spent so much of its national wealth on its military. Alan J. Cain, United Kingdom

Please realise that these people now need your help not your Criticism. No government however resourceful could have been fully prepared to meet the needs of such a ravaged population.Subhashis Satpathy, USA

I sit here sometimes amazed and mostly shocked at the treatment meted out to the people of Orissa by the international community. It doesn't take a genius to recognise the magnitude of the disaster. Yet, the international community has stood aside and given nothing but condolences and meagre help. It is still not a month when the world's elite nations were scrambling to help Turkey in it's hour of need. If this doesn't smack of racism and partisan attitude then nothing does. The world should be ashamed of letting the disaster go unnoticed.
Kunal Shah, United States

The army is doing its best to control the situation. People in Orissa shall be evacuated and sent to other states. Let them be guests to other states in India until everything is Ok there. Otherwise there will be a higher number of deaths due to epidemics.
Meher, India

It is interesting to note that the Indian government's aid to Orissa was less than what it spends in 6 months in maintaining a military presence, since the late 80's, on the Siachen glacier. Interesting set of priorities.
Ahmad, UK

It is facile to say that India should be able to fund the relief operations on its own, if only it did not spend so much money on military equipment or whatever. India has many problems, not least of which is its poverty and the military threat posed by Pakistan and China. This is not paranoia, she has fought wars with both of these countries in recent years. India also has internal security problems with a number of separatist, and other, movements.
The Orissan cyclone was exceptional both in its strength and duration, and coming so shortly after another one. The response was inadequate and both state and central governments have been severely criticised as a result. Nonetheless, no matter how well the governments in these regions prepare for such emergencies they will almost inevitably need help from those of us who are fortunate enough to live in areas not subject to such disasters and wealthy enough to have the necessary resources.
Allen Copsey, England

Orissa has always been neglected by the centre. Even after more than 50 years of independence more than 70% people of Orissa are below poverty line. Orissa is the only state where railway lines are not electrified, still only diesel locomotives are running. Even though Orissa is full of natural resources like Chromite, Iron, Coal, Aluminium etc., there are very few industries in Orissa.
I guess if a supercyclone would have hit some other state like Gujarat, Maharstra, etc. they would have got much more central assistantship & it would have been declared as national calamity. To add more, the non-functional Govt. (Thanks to Congress party) is unable to distribute the relief materials whatever reaching Orissa. It would be nice for Orissa if President's rule will be imposed at least for some years. Orissa doesn't want to be ruled by any politicians.
Saraju Prasad Mohanty, India

Maybe they could sell a nuclear bomb or a couple of those new Russian jets ...hey how about cancelling the aircraft carrier. It doesn't look very good sailing the World's oceans when you can't even take care of your disasters.
Eddie, USA

I humbly request to the entire media all over the world to please give attention to the human disaster than anything else because it is we the human beings who have to take care of each other. I regret to say that not even one-thousandth of Diana's Death attention has been given to this world calamity done by our Mother Nature. People are dying everyday it is not even close to enough has been done.
Girish, USA

No one could have prevented this type of Natural disaster. Orissa Govt and its people will need the support of the international agencies to carry on humanitarian support services which are needed now. The victims will also need long-term solutions: housing, food, livelihood and social support for years to come. Perhaps the overseas " ORIYA PEOPLE" may be involved in this type of long term planning. But I can not imagine, what will happen to that part of Orissa if another super-cyclone hits that region next year.
Disaster management in western countries is very effective with institutionalised support services. But in a poor Indian state like Orissa such a set up would be perceived as unnecessary. I am told several affluent oriya people have simply decided to leave Orissa and some oriyas living abroad have cancelled flight reservations for the time being. Orissa is bigger in population size than Canada or Australia and many other world nations. Please do not ignore its people.
Prof Manindra Mohapatra, United States

The age of the global family has arrived. Problems, such as wars, famine, plagues, storm damage - in fact suffering of any kind - all are no longer just local issues. Because we now KNOW of such matters, how can we sit back and do nothing, or say it is not our problem? Because we KNOW, we must DO everything we can to alleviate suffering wherever it occurs in the world.
Roy Litchfield, UK

Yet again, another example of how huge amounts of money is *always* available for war and killing but *never* for humanitarian reasons.
Richard Swain, UK

All I would like to ask those criticising the relief effort or the spending on arms is "What have YOU done to help?" Finger pointing is easy. Using the worst tragedy of the century to try and prove a rabid, racist point is the greatest disservice you can do to the memory of those who perished.
Andy, India

I believe the international community should consider this as a humanitarian disaster and lend their hand to help. Even for countries like Pakistan, this is a great opportunity to help their India and start building trust in that region.
Ahilan, Canada

It was a test that India failed. If India cannot help states like Orissia then it is not surprising that Kashmir wants to be out of India.
Anup Deb, USA

The international relief agencies are doing their part. However, the Indian government itself is ambivalent to the terrible situation. Already relations between Bhubaneshwar and New Delhi are not too friendly. New Delhi must do its part before India can ask for international aid. What's more, New Delhi should take measures for next time in preparation for another cyclone, so that it doesn't raise such a hue and cry when the cyclone catches them unprepared.
Zeeshan Amin, USA

Besides my immediate family, all of my relatives live in the state of Orissa. In addition to the thousands of lives that have already been taken by the cyclone, there has been a hundred percent crop loss. If we do not significantly step up funding for food and other resources, there is potential for a great famine in Orissa.
Yes, many people may say that India has the money to handle the problem and they should stop spending money on nuclear weapons, but this is not the time to point fingers and blame India's government for there past blunders and irrationality. The victims of that cyclone were innocent, and had their lives ruined for reasons that no one can explain. The only way to clean things up is to GIVE MONEY NOW!!!!!
Sombit Mishra, USA

It is pathetic that even after 3 weeks of cyclone, there are some villages unapproachable in Orissa. It tells how much we care for our people.
Satish Upadhyayula, USA

The international community needs to help more. They need to have better weather forecasting systems. The government and the people of Orissa need to have a storm warning and evacuation mechanism in place.
Amiya Mansingh, USA

India has always had natural calamities and will always have them in the future. Surprisingly, the 'heads' don't seem to either realise or emphasise on these facts. A lot of money is spent in the nuclear arms race. It's something that everyone is aware of. It's good to be technologically advanced but the after effects of such a cyclone has cost a fortune. There are millions of people who are homeless and an unaccountable number of people have died.
Even though, India a country criticised by many, still manages to go through bad times and has always grown. Help is there and always seems to come whenever it's needed. But the bottom line is that Orissa has had a set back which will take a while. What the cyclone has done to the affected people of Orissa is something we can never possibly fathom.
Raja Dutta, USA

I am aghast that I am not able to see any news about the cyclone in any news papers of India, let alone the world!! What a shame that human life has no value any more!!
Krishnan, US

It is true that the relief operations are not up to the mark. The government was not prepared for such a thing. Poor administration is a reason for that. Some gentlemen said if India could spend lots of money on arms, then it could sort out this thing, but actually India's expenditure on arms is a very less percentage when compared to some developing countries and of course far less than that of UK and USA. So it makes no sense to say to compare arms and relief operations.
Anand, India

Whilst we are sitting in the comfort of our own homes, these people do not have the luxury, or likely to in the foreseeable future. More must be done now. Wouldn't it be nice to see a gesture from Pakistan?
Gareth, UK

To ask such a question begs an obvious answer. No enough has not been - and is not being done to assist fellow human beings whose world has been virtually destroyed. All people who have not held in their hearts a prayer, who have not opened their wallets to give, are missing a great opportunity to be truly human, to know compassion.
The donations pledged by world governments fall far short of the mark. The US pledges 2 million to India and 1 billion to Turkey, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to to figure out the political agenda. I say people before politics - humanity before selfish interests!
Cynthia Ratliff, USA

The severity of the effects is not well advertised by the media. The attention given by the US media and the administration is extremely poor. Indian government needs to be more expedient in making decisions to channel resources.
Sarat Mohapatra, USA

It is true that the whole nation was caught on the wrong foot by the sheer magnitude of the natural calamity but at the same time there is no reason to ask why India spends so much money on defence and so little on relief. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CORELATION BETWEEN THE TWO. India in fact spends a far lower percentage of its GDP on defence and defence related research than the countries of the developed world.
The storm just caught everyone OFF GAURD ...could have happened anywhere. Please realise that these people now need your help not your Criticism. No government however resourceful could have been fully prepared to meet the needs of such a ravaged population.
Subhashis Satpathy, USA

I do not think enough is being done in India. It upsets me that all the attention seems to be on helping the Turks, and there is much coverage of their plight in the U.S.A., but little seems to be heard about the Indians on the US media. This is probably due to the strong strategic ties between the US and Turkey, which does not exist between the US and India. And, of course, the rest of the west follows obediently behind the US.
Yes, there may be a growing middle class of Indians, who I expect are helping their fellow Indians. Do I hear anybody complaining that middle class Turks should solely aid their victims instead of the international community. It is sad that the Turks have experienced violent earthquakes and it is right that they should get international aid on humanitarian grounds, but it is also right that the Indian of Orissa should, too. It sickens me that my fellow countrymen (Dave & Mr. Cain of the UK), who live in a country that sucked the wealth from India, should dare to have the attitude that the Indians should help themselves with no international aid. This attitude is born of racism and ignorance.
Andy H - Brit in OKC, USA

Indians world-wide have to join hands to help a state on its knees because of a natural calamity. At the same time the Indian government should understand that it cannot go out with a begging bowl every couple of months for relief for the disaster victims. India should rather focus on better preventive and disaster management mechanisms. People should also learn to co-operate with the administration to minimise the impact of the natural disasters about which we are able to forecast.
Ravi Jana, US

The state of Orissa is approx. the size of UK, which was underwater. To organise and help all the people affected is on a massive scale, which most people can not imagine. In UK we have flooding and storms and it takes weeks and sometime months before it gets back to near normality and the scale of the disaster in UK is not even 1 percent of the one in India. Also keep in mind India has only been independent for only 50 years and had to start form scratch after the British left it in Ruins.
DIL, UK

I was surprised by how little coverage the disaster in Orissa got in the media. It was largely the disaster the world forgot. Does it really take images of the worst kind to prompt people into action? Was it because terrible images from Turkey were more readily available that enabled dozens of rescue teams from all around the world to get to Turkey within 24 hours of their recent earthquake? I think so.
Rakesh Bhagat, UK

After doing a detailed case study on Orissa I can safely say that not enough is being done, Orissa doesn't just need short term aid, in the form of money, it needs long term support, and more aid workers sent to help.
Luke Friend, England

Its a shame that so many people have to suffer, while those in a position to help, are sitting around and weighing ideological and economic issues. Politicians everywhere are mostly a sick lot, and therefore one should expect ordinary individuals to step in and offer help. A natural calamity should make us all aware of our impotency in fighting nature, and at the same time foster in us an awareness of helping fellow humans who feel the wrath of such calamities.
Shashank, USA

The rescue and relief operations that the central and state govt. has made for the people of Orissa can be termed as just pathetic. In a situation like this everything possible should be done for the affected people. I think for the govt. at the state and the central level words speak louder than actions. The defence minister and various other ministers go to survey the area when the people are more in need of food, medicines and shelter. What have the affected people got to benefit by seeing the faces of politicians who come to survey the area without any food? I think it's just ridiculous and they ought to use their brains for once. I think the chief minister of AP was the only person who had the mentality to do something rather than just keep making statements and I commend him for his efforts.
Ashish D'abreo, US

Before asking the question, is enough being done to help? one should ask whether whatever help that was provided by the international community, has reached the deserved people. The biggest problem in India is corruption not poverty. So in my opinion no body can help those victims unless international community make sure that their help reaches the real deserved before offering any more help.
Bhairavavajjula Nageswararao, USA

The people that died in the cyclone were the poorest 'citizens' of India where one loses one's right to live a life of minimum dignity when one's is born poor. So anyway, the debate over how much has been done and what could have been done for the cyclone is a forgone conclusion and has only academic interest for the statisticians, journalists, politicians and the unemployed rich. In my opinion, the hue and cry over number of dead, declartion as a national calamity etc. makes one more and more cynic which is anyway a hallmark of Indian citizenry. I must commend the BBC for demonstrating detachment and objectivity in dealing with the whole affair.
Deenesh Padhi, India

Giving money /Food is not enough. We've got to see that those relief funds etc are reaching to the people when they need it the most, That is not happening The fact is that most of the relief are not reaching to the people due to the lack of planning /management of the Relief activity by the Current state govt over there. Even two weeks after the cyclone nothing concrete was set up by them for the relief works and now the relief foods are getting piled up at the state capital and the people are dying of Hunger in the worst affected areas.
nbm, US

The Indian Government has fallen far below the expected rehabilitation. It can definitely afford much more, as it is no longer a very poor country. The state of Orissa has been neglected all the time by the centre and the available aid has not been very well distributed to the needy. The people of India however have made reasonable contributions. Other rich countries also have not done enough. The sufferers have lost a generation and no amount of aid can return back the loss. The people of Orissa particularly, need to make the best use of all available aid and face the task or re-building themselves as a challenge and should not only rely only on aid.
Santosh Meher, Ireland

The lack of support by the administration is appalling. The destruction left behind by the killer storm is beyond imagination. Rather than wrangling over what status of calamity should be granted, the whole nation should come together to rebuild Orissa from the grassroots level. First the short term need of food, clothing and shelter should be the taken care. There should also be long term plan to avoid such destruction in future by building more cyclone shelters, installing satellite phones and constructing a coastal highway that will serve as a barrier to the seawater, besides solving the traffic problem. The international community should also step in and stay there to help the poor victims get back to gain self-dependency.
Manoj Panda, California, USA

There is practically no disaster relief preparedness in India. The attitude of the people in power is deplorable. However, most of what we see is due to the wrong attitude, rather than lack of willingness. Let us stop gauging India with the same yardstick that we use in the West. The poverty in India is simply tremendous. Both India and Pakistan are very unwise to pour so much of money on military efforts while the mass struggle in poverty.
S.Gobinathan, USA

It is sad and frustrating to see that many thousands have not received adequate help so long after the disaster. What seems to be lacking in India is a well-organised national system to respond efficiently to such major calamities. And such disasters are not new to this region. The experience with terrible calamities in many countries underlines the importance of having an efficient disaster relief system.
Rajiv Rajan, India/USA

As always, with a disaster outside of Europe or the United States, help for victims is scarce. Just like with Rwanda, although that was a massacre, the west chooses to look the other way in hopes that it will blow over.
Jane Shlimovich, USA

INDIA, like China, is a developing country. We have limited resources to cope with those natural disasters, among many other problems. We need genuine help from the west. However, it seems to me the west regards these problems as internal problem we should overcome by ourselves. When it concerns human rights, the principle becomes universal. For us, if you don't help us with our basic needs, don't talk human rights with us. It's completely non-sense. We should fill our stomach first before we can talk about human rights and democracy. If you choose to not help, don't criticise
B Li, China

The Indian people and its rulers rejoiced on the laurels of their nuclear accomplishments, spending the largest portion of their GDP on military hardware with a nod and a wink from the West. This brought Asia perilously close to an all out nuclear war. If all that Western aid earmarked for economic development had been used appropriately, their misery may well have been mitigated to a large degree. The Indians made their bed, now they must sleep in it. Let them suffer the consequences of their choice of leadership and maybe now they will realise that religious zeal and ethnic hatred are a bad choice to temper their judgement at voting time.
Don Burton, UK

India might be able to spend more on disaster relief had it not spent so much of its national wealth on its military.
Alan J. Cain, United Kingdom

"Enough" can never be done. These people have lost everything. You cannot replace a person's entire life history (in material possessions) no matter how much money you give them.
Kate, UK

Going by what I've heard, the rescue attempt has been pathetic to say the least. Death and disease prevails and the politicians who very recently sought the people's mandate have now abandoned them. It is surprising to see that common people from elsewhere in India are not opening their wallets like they did during the recent Kargil conflict. Surely a national calamity ranks right up there with war?!
India will do well to use its own internal resources to take care of rehabilitation instead of looking outward for help. As we all know, help from outside is always concomitant upon certain conditions the helping country wishes to impose. So far, the state and central governments' efforts have been too slow, too little and too late.
Srinivas Rangaraj, Canada

If India can afford to spend so much money on arms and Nuclear weapons then they should be able to sort out this without any help from us. More we help the less they do and the less obligation they have to sorting out their own state.
Dave, UK

There never seems to be enough done in response to these disasters. However, in the Orissa disaster this neglect exceeded all bounds of decency. We are all human beings, it is unbelievable that we can function knowing so much unnecessary suffering is being endured. India is not the poor country it once was, it has a middle class numbering hundreds of millions. Hopefully, they didn't achieve such status by prioritising material well being above compassion.
Tom, Australia

India has made a big effort to get medical and food supplies to many areas. Yes, more can be done if the World at large joins hands without any prejudice and helps. This does not only apply to the natural disaster in India but anywhere on this planet. Race, religion, colour and cultures should not come in the way for helping others.
Mike Still, UK





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