The Press Trust of India reports that 177 people have died so far in the aftermath of cyclone Nisha’s torrential rains that hit Tamil Nadu. The news did not come as a complete surprise to me because I have family in Chennai who reported of flooded roads and downed power lines. If people living in one of the better areas of the capital city were without water and power for 5 days, it stands to reason that people in the outlying rural areas were worse off – sure enough, casualty reports are coming in now.
Why are we not outraged about this? For the last week, the media have been dominated by the events in Mumbai and understandably so, but the situation in Tamil Nadu is as much a failure of governance as the carnage in Mumbai.
We seem to have given up on expecting anything from our government, whether it be basic amenities, infrastructure or protection. If our governments cannot fulfill their core obligation to look after their constituents, why are we tolerating them like parasitic beings who feed off of our efforts and give nothing in return? It is a common saw that “India thrives inspite of its government.”
I see that there is a tremendous movement in Mumbai in the wake of the terrorist attacks to hold the government accountable for its ineptitude and force them to be proactive about these kind of situations in the future. There is talk of a federal intelligence agency and enhanced attention to the needs of our police and armed forces. My hope is that a similar movement demands that the government be as proactive when it comes to natural disasters, urban planning and basic infrastructure.
My expectation though? Unlike Mumbai. the deaths in Tamil Nadu were of poor farmers and villagers who have never had a voice – I don’t believe they ever will.