Unless you’ve spent the past weeks in Mars, you’d have heard about the flood in Pakistan. I’ve heard it described as worse than the Southeast Asian tsunami of 2004 in terms of the number of people affected, worse than Haiti’s earthquake in terms of intensity, and more crucial than Iraq in terms of geopolitical implications.
Make no mistake, this is bad.
And yet, when I look around in Bangladeshi discourse — mainstream media or blogs and facebook, government or NGOs, or even in private conversations — barring a few exceptions, I see nothing about this massive calamity.
As most of the readers would know, Bangladesh was struck by a massive cyclone in mid-November. The death toll stands in thousands, communities have been shattered, damage to crops, livestock and property is expected to run into billions of US dollars, and over 7 million Bangladeshis are suffering from the immediate aftermath of Sidr. Most ominously, the country faces a grave shortage of food, and a real possibility of famine. This post continues from some recent on what we can do.
Fellow blogger Asif said this the other day:
In the last 8 days of fund relief via TV channels in the UK, I couldn’t find a single not faith based organization that were getting relief via TV. These people from various faith based organizations, were out there on the field collecting money, volunteering etc that wins hearts and minds of common people. While, we folks, the so called liberals, are analyzing things ad nauseum.
My observations accord with his. I don’t know about him, but I feel frustrated. A lot.
If you’re in Bangladesh, you may remit cash directly to the following account:
Chief Adviser’s Relief and Welfare Fund, Current Account No. 33004093, Sonali Bank, Prime Minister’s Office Branch, Tejgaon, Dhaka, Bangladesh. SWIFT Code : BSONBDDH
Ref: Chief Advisor’s Office Website (http://www.cao.gov.bd/rwfund07/rw_fund.html)
I could write about how this compares in terms of death and destruction with previous storms that ravaged the country. But I won’t. The official death toll stands at 1,200 or so when I write this. But almost certainly this will rise.
The cyclone is likely to have severely damaged the country’s autumn crop. Beyond the immediate relief and rehabilitation, this means an aggravation of an already spiralling food price inflation. But on that, perhaps some other time.
And beyond that, perhaps this is a sign of the future. Perhaps global warming means we have to brace for more of these happening at a greater frequency. Perhaps.
But I won’t despair. I won’t despair because this is not the first time that this has happened to Bangladesh. And, global warming or not, this won’t be the last. We did overcome this, in 1991, and before that in 1970, and countless times before that. And we shall overcome, this time, and the next one, and the one after that.
As the old leader said, ‘amader dabaye rakhte parba na’.