Six questions that don’t go away

On Sunday, India failed as a nation


Posted online: Wednesday, December 29, 2004 at 0000 hours IST

Here are six questions that arise in the wake of the tsunami tragedy which don’t go away.

Question 1: Once the tsunami hit the Andaman and Nicobar islands, the government should have sprung into action and warned the people on the mainland. Southern India could then have been better prepared to face the disaster. Once the tsunami hit the Andamans, we had at least 60 minutes to do this. Why was this not done?

Question 2: Why do we have all that government paraphernalia in the Andamans if we cannot keep an eye on developments in Southeast Asia?

Question 3: What were ISRO’s numerous satellites doing at the time?

Question 4: If the US, Australia and other Pacific nations knew about the tsunami within 15-30 minutes, why did they not warn India and the others? It is unimaginable that they allowed the disaster to happen just because Sri Lanka and India were not ‘members’ in a Pacific watch scheme. If, on the other hand, they did not know, then all the research and money being spent on observing the Pacific watch is a waste. After all, the same tsunami could have travelled south to the western coast of Australia. If they did know that the tsunami was traveling west towards the Indian subcontinent and did not warn the nations concerned, then they have failed humanity.

Question 5: Today it is a tsunami, tomorrow it could be something else. What we know from this tsunami is that India, as a nation, failed. Indian scientists failed. Indian managers failed. Indian politicians failed. Indian administrators failed. The Indian media failed — by wasting time and energy on trivial issues rather than focusing on issues of importance. Why did the nation fail?

Question 6: Finally, if the people cannot be warned about a tsunami, can we trust the government of the day and/or bureaucracy to warn people of nuclear strikes — by rogue states or otherwise?

© 2004: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world.


Informant: Shanti Renfrew


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Dezember 2004

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