An Essay: Tsunami

"I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me" - Abraham Lincoln.

Magnitude of the disaster

The Tsunami has once again demonstrated the fury of nature and the tragedy it can cause. It showed us that nature could be as harsh as it is benevolent. The Tsunami, an extraordinary calamity of unprecedented proportions, is a reminder that no matter how much wealth or power man acquires, he is still at the mercy of the elements. The havoc created by tsunami can never be forgotten. The most powerful earthquake in 40 years quickly turned into one of the worst disasters in a century, as walls of water crashed ashore across South Asia. The number of human casualties, mostly children and women, is horrible and is increasing with the passage of time. Every person you meet in the tsunami-hit area has his own story to tell but no one is there to listen him or her.

In poor countries, living is so hand-to-mouth that there is scant time to think about the distant future. This dreadful disaster of such a vast dimension has led to outbreak of diseases like cholera, gastroenteritis, hepatitis B, malaria, and dengue fever. It (tsunami) ravaged some of the most fragile economies in Burma, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

Religion and Science

Today, in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, we are caught up in the same debate between traditional beliefs and scientific solution. The fisherfolk, despite devastation caused to them by the sea, are offering traditional prayers to the goddess called Gangamma, believed to be their protector. They think that sea goddess is angry due to their past sins and now needs to be appeased. Fisherfolk is badly riddled with ancient superstitions.

Role of India

India refused aid from foreign governments and assured them that India has enough to meet its requirements. In expression of neighbourly solidarity and sympathy, India offered a helping hand to affected neighbour countries despite It's own problems. The loss of critical infrastructure of less developed countries is a double blow. It makes getting assistance to victims that much more harder. Lack of coordination between government and relief agencies creates chaos and makes the mockery of the disaster management.

Corruption and disaster

Corruption has made its presence felt everywhere and everytime. It could be noticed in the leakage of foodgrains meant for tsunami victims into the open market. People with power have not let this opportunity go from their hands in exploiting the poor masses. It is disturbing to find officials insisting on death certificates for the payment of compensation to the family of those killed. Such administrative bottlenecks should be avoided. The humanitarian concerns are often absent in our government's policies of disaster management, as well as functioning of its agencies, which are supposed to provide relief to victims of disasters.

Role of defence forces

Defence forces played a crucial role in all aspects of the disaster. The active roles of defence forces that came to the rescue of the victims and helped build confidence among the affected people

Role of media

Media played an important role in tackling the agony and the pain of the tsunami victims. It is the media because of whom many people could get united. Star News, a TV news channel operating in India, went one step further. It put an L.C.D near a relief camp, which helped victims lessen their mental pain and distress. The media could have played a vital role in dispelling the impression of cynicism generated in the sections of Western media when India declined foreign aid.

On the other side of the fence, print media also violated the dignity of the dead by showing images of mass burial. The relatives of the affected people fiercely condemned this act. The excessive coverage of the visits of VIPs and famous personalities often hinders the relief work. Media should give minimum coverage to visits of these people so they will automatically stop coming because of lack of reward.


The need of the hour is to put the human back into humanitarian. Relief cannot be measured solely in monetary terms, because only a miniscule fraction or at times nothing reaches the needy. The boycott of used clothes and packet-food indicate that the victims need emotional and psychological touch and not just monetary and material relief. The victims desperately require a human contact to resettle their shattered emotional lives. The trauma of the disaster has engulfed the lives of affected people and they need to be given psychological counselling to help them come out of their severe trauma.

The lesson that I learnt from this dreadful disaster is that the Tsunami has reunited people and thrashed the inner egos. Tsunami removed the status-based divisions, having spared no section of the community. Individual acts of heroism, collective efforts that saved lives, nations coming together in the relief efforts are signs of hope.

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