September 03, 2005

Rising water has killed hundreds, five million people are displaced, medical and food supplies are exhausted, gun battles are breaking out between vigilantes and criminal gangs on the water-logged streets, refugees are crammed into a stadium where conditions are horrendous...
No, its not a third world country disaster we are talking about. The above is the chaotic situation aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina which has caused extensive and severe damage in much of the southeastern United States. The total deaths as I write is 729+ and people missing are 20,000+. Bangladesh is known to many as a land cursed with natural calamities. That is why its not surprising when you see people comparing Bangladesh to the above situation.

But is it fair to compare Bangladesh to the chaos & destruction United States is facing? Natural calamities are always a tragedy and an act of God. The humans can only be well prepared and coordinated to minimize the destruction. Bangladesh faces this kinds of tragedy every year and still it is a developing not a stagnant country. The media do not propagate the courage and efforts many Bangladeshis show each year to start their life all over. If the calamities would not only be the central idiom of the media, the world could have learnt many tips for tackling these kind of calamities.

Daniel Brett writes a striking post "What America can learn from Bangladesh":

"Last year Bangladesh faced a natural disaster which was an altogether larger disaster than Hurricane Katrina and the casualty figures were probably lower than the casualties sustained in the New Orleans disaster. But the disaster was contained due to the survival instincts of the Bangladeshi people, their ingenuity in the face of adversity and their culture of hard work. Rather than shoot and loot, Bangladesh immediately used its modest resources to limit the impact of the floods before international aid arrived.

The fact that the economy was able to recover from the floods so soon is a testament to the ability of Bangladeshis to pick themselves up and go about rebuilding.

The Americans have never really faced such adversity...Bangladeshis place great importance to social and family ties and these have brought them through a multitude of natural and man-made disasters. Bangladesh's experiences show us that, in the face of disaster, money does not make society more cohesive or better organised."

Bangladeshi blogger Mezba has things to say to the Americans which may cause heartburns to many but can these be denied?:

"We, the rest of the world, still hold the Americans to a higher pedestal than the rest of us. Like it or not, Americans are still considered a standard of excellence.

* They put a man on the moon in 3 days, but the aid took 5 days to arrive.
* Congress stayed up all night to pass the 87 billion dollars needed for Iraq’s army, but did not pass an aid bill for New Orleans since the last 5 days.
* When National Guard officials were needed to stop looting and anarchy in their home state, they were off doing the same in a foreign country thousands of miles away.

And who is suffering? Society is judged by how they treat their poorest, their weakest, and their most vulnerable citizens. The people left behind in New Orleans are certainly those. I hope, for their sake, the American government gets its act together.

Americans deserve - and expect - no less from their leaders."

And speaking of the leaders, many are pissed with them and asked to "get off their asses".
"Calamity is the perfect glass wherein we truly see and know ourselves." - William Davenant


Post a Comment