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Heed message from heaven!

Statesman News Service |

rajinder puri
When the forest is aflame, the lion and the lamb make common cause to escape. Is the recent deluge a message from nature that India&’s politicians should heed? There is criticism that the Uttarakhand disaster is man-made and could have been avoided.  Perhaps, it is so. Thousands of stranded passengers are protesting bitterly. But do not blame just the Congress government for it. Any other party in power would have performed no differently. Do not blame just politicians. No politician in the prevailing political culture could have performed differently. Do not blame just the political culture. It cannot be different given the political system. Any dispassionate critic would accept this truth.
The death toll eventually may run into thousands as the fate of all those missing is discovered. There are certainly innumerable lapses in governance that result in man-made and avoidable disasters. Why, even right now, people are dying in Mumbai because one building after another constructed in violation of laws is collapsing. That tragedy has nothing to do with rain. But is this the time to indulge in blame game? Is this the time for politicians to score debating points and for media commentators to sermonise and pontificate?
Consider instead the heroic and dogged rescue operations in impossible conditions being undertaken by members of our armed forces. Their efforts reveal what Indians are capable of. The deluge exposed our failed performance and refusal to follow the dictum of ‘prevention is better than cure’. The rescue operation indicates how well we are capable of acquitting ourselves when challenged. The gap between India&’s potential and performance could not be more glaring. Therefore critics would be well advised to practice temporary restraint. Victims need to be helped. All sections of politicians and people must offer help. It is a time to unite.
It is also a time to think. The deluge of rain was visible. There are even greater threats of disaster that are invisible. Should we not unite to face these future threats that our crumbling system and collapsed governance are not fit to address? We need basic reform to confront the looming crises that will inevitably hit us. Should not our politicians seriously consider forming a national government for a limited period that might unite all sections of opinion to introduce systemic reforms that will help India survive and thrive? Should not political leaders of the government and the opposition confer to consider this possibility? The world moves forward while India retreats. There is need for a bold approach. Critics might scoff at the above suggestion. This writer urges them to withhold judgment till the end of this year. Then recall what has been written and reconsider its merit.

The writer is a veteran journalist and cartoonist. He blogs at