In The News (4)

Video: Bamdev Gautam



Nepal, Before and After the Earthquake
The accounts hint at the trauma of seeing an environment mostly taken for granted as stable and secure suddenly disintegrate. There was the house that fell on a little girl who had just walked inside to fetch water. There was the nursing mother who looked up and saw the unthinkable: “The hills all came down.” ...... scientists project that this residual shaking could continue for years.
Indian media criticized for 'insensitive' coverage on Nepal quake
Hours after Nepal was shaken by its biggest quake in decades, India rushed to the rescue -- its army, air force, and rescue teams were applauded for their nimble and generous response. ..... Local news channels have been proudly trumpeting that they were the first ones to reach "Ground Zero" and to bring "exclusive" reports to households in India and across the world. ...... Indian journalist Indrani Bagchi argued that it's unfair to criticize India's media with one brushstroke -- if it wasn't for India's media, many of the stories of what's happening in Nepal would go untold ...... "Indian media coverage has been largely responsible for how the rest of the world sees the Nepal tragedy. Even driven global response. Even if it is slightly over the top sometimes"
India's TV journalists have damaged our relations with Nepal
For years, Indian journalists reported stories about “big brother India” in Nepal, and how Delhi’s policies towards its northern neighbour often resembled the third degree being meted out to a recalcitrant, moody, stubborn child who simply refused to listen. ....... This patronising treatment was primarily the prerogative of Indian diplomats posted in that Himalayan nation, and it was no coincidence that the ambassador was often called the “Viceroy”. ..... God forbid you were seen in public with an Indian diplomat; it was as if your credibility was already suspect. ...... Some of the Nepali reaction was certainly justified — remember the time, a few years ago, when the Indian ambassador applied enough pressure on Indian companies to pull advertisements from Nepali newspapers because he didn’t like the line they were toeing? ..... Certainly, the visiting Indian tourist, who behaved abominably in the bars and restaurants of Thamel or in casinos elsewhere in the city, reconfirmed the ‘Ugly Indian’ epithet that the poorer Nepalis applied to them. ...... There was an intimate dislike between Indians and Nepalis — precisely because both citizenry shared language and religion and colour of skin. ...... Having gone there to cover the earthquake and show solidarity with the pain and trauma of those who had suffered, several Indian TV journalists instead behaved like callous and insensitive jerks, one of them repeatedly asking a woman who had lost her young son: “How do you feel?” ...... It’s enough to make you throw up. The exact same thing happened in the Kashmir floods in September last year. Some TV journalists got into boats that the National Disaster & Rescue Force (NDRF) had employed to rescue residents of Srinagar, and, thrusting their mics in the face of traumatised people, asked: “Are you grateful that the Indian army/air force/NDRF are rescuing you?” ...... When some Srinagar residents shouted back into the cameras: “We are Indians too, we don’t need to be grateful,” the TV journalists replied by reporting that Kashmiris had divided loyalties towards Pakistan. ..... Several Nepalis have caustically pointed out how several Indian journalists reporting the Nepal earthquake behaved as if the people’s trauma was only a sideshow to the “amazing” help that the Indian government in general, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular, displayed towards Nepal. ...... No wonder Doval and Jaishankar — and joint secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Javed Ashraf — flew into Kathmandu a few days ago to reiterate the message, that Nepal was leading the entire operation and India would only help Nepal as long as Nepal wanted help. The fact of the matter is that the NDRF has specially exhibited such sterling service that it has left every other country far behind. India is the only country that doesn’t have the name “India” emblazoned on every tent, every all-weather jacket, every milk tin, every grain bag that is being flown into Nepal. Every other country — whether China, the US, Israel, Britain as well as every two-bit Scandinavian do-gooding nation as well as NGO — is behaving like they’re there to “save the people”.


The Glory That Was Hippie-Era Kathmandu Finally Died in the Nepal Earthquake
60% of all heritage buildings were “badly damaged” in the quake. With them, a whole way of life has finally vanished. ..... The Kathmandu valley lies at an ethereal altitude of 4,600 ft. (1,400 m), and, besides the natural beauty of the encircling Himalayas, boasts some 130 monuments, including several Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites, and seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. Or perhaps we should say “boasted.” ...... The 1975 Bob Seger classic “Katmandu” immortalized the escapist allure of Kathmandu. “I’m tired of looking at the TV news,” sang Seger. “I’m tired of driving hard and paying dues/ I figure, baby, I’ve got nothing to lose/ I’m tired of being blue/ That’s why I’m going to Kathmandu.” ...... Goodman, a 67-year-old Ohio native, describes his time in the ancient Newar city of Bhaktapur, just 8 miles (13 km) outside Kathmandu, and where at least 270 people were killed in the most recent quake, as like “living in medieval Europe in the 13th century.” ....... “I used to wake up around 7 a.m. to the sound of birds at the window, distant temple bells and giggling girls at the water tap by my house,” says Goodman. “I’ve never woken to a nicer sound in my life.” ...... Those halcyon days began to fade towards the end of the 1980s. The government made visas harder to obtain, and many long-term expatriates, like Goodman, were strong-armed into departing. The Iranian Revolution and civil war in Lebanon made the old overland route to Nepal far more difficult. New arrivals had to come by air, and thus needed deeper pockets. Later, Nepal’s own civil war, which raged from 1996 to 2006, deterred many visitors. ...... Today, income inequality has soared and land values within the Kathmandu ring road rival those of New York City ...... While the trickle down of tourist dollars has helped some, particularly the Sherpas, “marginalized groups who are not in the trekking areas do not receive any of the benefits” ........ And once all the rubble has been cleared (or looted), there seems almost no chance that the traditional but vulnerable red brick and timber structures will return. The old city will be rebuilt in reinforced concrete and hippie Kathmandu will become merely a memory. The Kathmandu of an even earlier era may not return either.
Recovery In Nepal
One view holds that no government could have dealt with a crisis of this magnitude, let alone Nepal’s ....... Nepal is in a seismically vulnerable zone, the government should have been better prepared. No one disputes the contributions of foot soldiers in the rescue effort, but there is obvious frustration with the government response. Reaching out to all locations immediately may not have been possible, but there is emerging criticism of the government’s actions in the first three days, when rescue needs were most acute; its neglect of rural regions; its failure to have stockpiled basic supplies; the inertia of political parties that have not been on the ground helping citizens; and the government’s confusing and contradictory directives on requirements for receiving international assistance. ........ There have already been protests of Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s management of the crisis. Koirala, who was in Bangkok when the earthquake struck, reportedly received the news from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweets. Delhi, meanwhile, has been a remarkably energetic first international responder. By the Thursday after the earthquake, India had sent five hundred and twenty tons of relief materials, eighteen medical teams, eighteen engineering teams, and sixteen disaster-relief teams. India also sent National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar for a ground-level field assessment. An editorial in the Kathmandu Post, Nepal’s leading English-language daily, noted that the hashtag #ThankPM was trending on Twitter, and caustically commented that it was, in fact, to thank Modi. ........ The debate about the Nepalese government’s capacity and effectiveness has real policy implications: it will help determine the balance of power between the state and other actors when it comes to determining relief priorities, distributing aid, and working on a long-term reconstruction plan. Nepal’s finance minister, Ram Sharan Mahat, has said that the country will need at least two billion dollars to rebuild, and has issued an international appeal for help. The United States has pledged almost twenty-six million dollars; the U.K., 7.5 million; and the E.U., 3.2 million; there have also been pledges from individual European countries, and aid has been channelled through international N.G.O.s and private charities. These numbers are constantly changing as actors scale up their assistance. But the question is whether Nepal’s government is in a position to effectively coördinate the aid that is coming in and deliver it to those who need it. ......... Young people of Nepalese origin all over the world have been quick to start fund-raising initiatives. ...... the earthquake has brought Nepalese society together in ways that were difficult to imagine until last week, when a polarized political climate and deep social cleavages had almost eroded the ethos we shared and the sense of belonging we had
Use Data, Not Nepotism, to Deliver Aid in Nepal
On the day the earthquake hit, after finding out that relatives and friends in Kathmandu Valley were alive, I worked to connect volunteers and people affected by the quake, using low-tech solutions including a Google Doc and social media. As I helped crowdsource resources and needs, and read reports from the ground, it became apparent that there was little relief available for villages outside of Kathmandu Valley. When we look at the data coming out of the disaster so far, it’s clear that these villages need relief, too. ....... The data show that villages outside the Kathmandu Valley need aid the most, not just based on the lives lost and houses destroyed by this disaster, but also because historically people in the villages had less to start with. ..... For instance, in Nuwakot, a district about 60 miles northwest of Kathmandu, about 45,000 houses have reportedly been destroyed or damaged. According to Nepal’s 2011 census, there are about 59,000 households in that district. That means that potentially only one in four houses are left intact in Nuwakot. Yet only about 1,300 people in the district have been reported injured by the earthquake—a figure that’s likely underreported. ....... we have been regularly updating an interactive map of the effects of Nepal’s earthquake. It uses district-level data to show injury tolls, death counts, and houses damaged to determine where aid is needed the most.
Nepal’s Only Billionaire Begins His Own Earthquake Aid Program
Nepal’s richest man–noodle king Binod Chaudhary–said his group has already handed out hundreds of thousands of packets of Wai Wai noodles ...... His Chaudhary Group is Nepal’s largest conglomerate with revenues of more than $800 million. It has interests in everything from cement to hotels to supermarkets but its best known brand is Wai Wai. ..... The group sells about two billion packets of the instant noodles worldwide every year. ..... While many of the group’s 6,000 employees had to sleep outdoors for a few days, none were killed by the quake and its production facilities in the district of Nawalparasi, more than 100 miles west of the capital, were undamaged. ...... If Nepal doesn’t get back on its feet quickly, he said, there is a real danger that a lack of opportunities could trigger a new exodus of workers from Nepal. ...... More than two million Nepalis already work overseas—most of them in India and Persian Gulf countries—sending home the equivalent of close to 30% of the country’s gross domestic product comes in remittances.
NASA's Radar Found 4 Men Trapped in Rubble in Nepal By Their Heartbeats
After the earthquake hit, rescuers in the village of Chautara got two prototype units of the device called FINDER, or Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response. The core of the device is a system that bounces microwaves around to “see.” Crucially, it can discern faint heartbeats and breaths in people buried under several feet of rubble....... In this case, FINDER was apparently able to detect the heartbeats of two men each in two different collapsed buildings. The men had been trapped for days, under as much as 10 feet of rubble.
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Why hasn’t more money been raised for Nepal earthquake relief?
Just over a week after the devastating earthquake, only 2 per cent of the $415M (U.S.) flash appeal has been pledged. ...... the problem is that there is only a limited amount of money available for humanitarian relief in the world, and an endless supply of crises. ...... when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, aid flooded in from around the world...... the turmoil in the Middle East and Ebola in West Africa have taken their toll on the world’s coffers, and may have tilted the balance of available donors — mostly governments — away from Nepal. .... “The world’s kind of tapped out,” he said. .... global humanitarian expenses rose almost 30 per cent to US$22 billion in 2013. ...... Compounding the issue is that even when governments do pledge aid, it can take a long time to deliver. As of Monday, about 85 per cent of the money that has been raised for the flash appeal is still outstanding. ...And while countries across the world wait to send their checks, Nepal is running out of time... “Rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, as the monsoon season approaches, is likely to become an added logistical challenge to the provision of humanitarian assistance,” Doyle said.....“Funding is needed immediately to continue the relief operations.”

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