Friday, May 1, 2015

Fragility of our existence has been exposed.

Once again humanity has been humbled.
Once again the fragility of our existence has been exposed.
Once again nature has proved its dominance over mankind.

Earthquake, as we call it, is basically shifting of tectonic plates below the surface of the Earth. It is a natural process which, in course of millions of years, has given birth to landmasses, mountains and islands, upon which we now dwell upon.

On Sunday our neighboring country Nepal was struck by massive earthquake of 7.8 magnitude and aftershocks. This seismic shockwave with strength of more than 20 thermonuclear weapons devastated its capital city Kathmandu and moved the entire city 10 feet south. Death toll rose above 5,000 by Tuesday and is expected to rise as still many areas are inaccessible and people are trapped under debris. More than 8,000 people have been reported to be injured. Hospitals have run out of space to treat patients and keep dead bodies. As per official statement issued by Nepalese authorities, the death toll is expected to reach 10,000.

Cities have been flattened, towns destroyed and villages have vanished from the map. The entire country is in tears as nearly everyone has lost something in form of life or kind. In such hour of need, I'm glad India acted as a responsible neighbor and was the first country to send in medical aids and relief materials to the affected areas. India's response started within 15 minutes of the quake.

Until now, under this major relief and rescue operation named Operation Maitri (Friendship), Indian land and air forces have evacuated more than 5,000 Indian citizens and 170 foreign nationals from the affected areas. Nearly 1,000 National Disaster Response Force personnel have been sent to Nepal. Hundreds of doctors and nurses have been sent to treat the affected. Engineering teams have been sent to reconstruct roads, restore electric supply and reinstate other infrastructural facilities. Several thousand tons of food and water, along with oxygen cylinders, are being sent every day. Several thousand blankets have been distributed and tents have been set up.

More heartening is the fact that citizens of the country, irrespective of religion, caste, creed or linguistic diversity, have come together to support our neighbor in whatever way they can, either by providing financial support or by supplying food, water, clothing and other basic necessities. Even corporate entities have pitched in to provide relief materials and donations. Indian Railway has issued 7000 zero value tickets to help earthquake victims to undertake journey to their destination. Moreover, since the disaster struck, it has been sending 100,000 bottles of drinking water to Nepal every day through Indian Air force. Several other companies, government as well as private, are actively contributing for this noble cause. Even religious bodies are participating in this mission. To name few, the Golden Temple is preparing to send 100,000 meals to the sufferers and Delhi Gurudwara is sending 25,000 food packets through Indian army every day.

The battle to save as many lives as possible has just begun. Due to inaccessibility of the terrain and severely damaged infrastructure, it’s difficult to reach many places where people are trapped under the wreckage. Thousands of them are injured, and are in desperate need of urgent help. If not treated timely, they could be left with permanent disabilities. But what binds us together is our willpower and hope that even in this calamity humanity has the power to survive, strive and revive. The fact, proven by recent rescue of a teenager after being buried for 5 days under the debris and rescue of 4-months old baby from the wreckage.

Our prayers and empathy are with our neighbors.


This article is written by Raju Verghese. Follow him on Facebook here