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Eye of the storm

Statesman News Service |

The “raging” prediction of a “super-storm” last week goes to show the reach of social media. While the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast an impending storm, social media went viral, soon building up what was at best a normal summer dust-storm into a “monster”. Coming on the heels of the 2 May freak storm that barrelled through North India, leaving over a 100 dead and a trail of destruction, the impending storm understandably raised a lot of fear.

As the wind picked up, there were minute-by-minute real time information zipping through Whatsapp and Facebook. The threat of the “super-storm” finally proved to be greatly hyped up. There was a thunderstorm but it was a mild one with just a sprinkling of rain. A video was circulated on social media of a thunderstorm but many claimed it was a fake one.

There were announcements on radio advising people to shut down all electronic devices. There were fears that power supply may get affected. There were advisories issued to stock up food. Even the schools were shut down. Everywhere, for a couple of days, the storm was the topic of discussion. But, the worst never happened. In fact, it became a joke of some sort.

One scribe attributed the near-panic situation to a “bleak news situation”, when even the storm was played up. She wondered whether dust-storms would next be given names as well. And with plenty of jokes making the rounds, the storm also found its place ~ many of them, in fact, sounded terribly silly.

Two ladies in the Metro mentioned the “poor disaster preparedness” in Delhi. Unlike in the coastal areas, one said, Delhi did not experience “super-storms”. And so, there is no disaster-management system in place in the Capital, including early warning and mitigation plans. May be true, but the hype did make Delhiites look silly.