January 03, 2005


The Washington Times reports:

"A United Nations official yesterday backpedaled from his claim that the United States is being 'stingy' in its response to the Asian earthquake disaster after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell disputed the remark. "

Yeah what could he say when the stingy US pledged $350 million (ten folds from initial pledge). The British citizens have personally contributed in excess of $100 million (three times more than what there government pledged). Japan pledged $500 million. The global response in aid of the victims has been overwhelming and the overall generosity has never been seen before.

Some have criticized heavily about the Arab world's response in aid of the tsunami victims:

--Qatar, $25 million
--Saudi Arabia, $10 million
--Kuwait, $2.1 million
--Algeria, $2 million
--Libya, $2 million
--UAE, $2 million
--Turkey, $1.25 million
(figures as of 1/1/2005)

Mahmood of Bahrain criticizes his own government:

In a country where parliament has squandered $31,830,238 in salaries and other benefits over two years without showing anything for it; in a country where the daily income from oil revenue exceeds $6,000,000; in a country where the majority of the workforce are South Asians we give a paltry $2,000,000 to the victims of the Asian tsunami. Shame on you Bahrain.

Meanwhile Professor Juan Cole argues:

If we take their populations and actual per capita income into account, the offers made by these governments are generally more generous than that of the United States. A lot of Middle Eastern countries have small populations, so even if they gave a lot per capita, it would look small in absolute numbers. The Saudi per capita income of about $8,500 per person per year (Atlas method) compares poorly to the US average of $38,000 per year per person.

Just in the context Bangladesh's per capita income hovers around $300 per person per year. Bangladesh has already sent two medical & rescue teams and helicopters manned by more than 100 army personals to Sri Lanka & Maldives (consider the cost of operation).

But I feel that generosity should not be counted only in figures or in context of what others are doing. People should ask themselves what they can do. I hope the people of Arab world & smaller nations would come up with their helping hand as there is still time to help those affected in rehabilitation and set-up of precautions (shelters, warning systems). For a personal view, I would like to quote this fellow:

Why keep score? I'm doing my own giving via private charities, not via the UN nor anything associated with it. For obvious reasons.

This probably echoes the millions of individual voices who have made a difference by extending their helping hand. Charity begins at home.


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