The Spirit Of Chennai
While the entire nation is debating on the"Non-sense" called "Intolerance", there is humanity at its best in Chennai. I can tell this for sure because, I stay in Qatar and my family (wife and 2 kids aged 11 and 7) are in Chennai.
With all the floods and problems, I am getting the message from them, "We are safe".
In the wake of calamity, Chennai is "One". It has only one religion, "Humanity";
It has only one enemy, "Water"; there is only one aim "Help".
And they did it in style.
When they were offering help, they didn't ask whether you are"Hindu" or a "Christian" Or a"Muslim". They didn't ask whether you are"Rich" or "Poor". They didn't ask whether you are a "Tamlian", "Malayalee", "Telugu","Kannadiga" or "North Indian". Only one question they asked; "Do you need any help?
The rich people, my neighbors who never interacted with anybody in the neighborhood in last 4 years, opened the gates of their huge house. The man stood outside and welcomed people to his house.
"We will eat whatever we have. We will share whatever we have. You can stay here until the water recedes" thats all he had said.. He accommodated around 35 people in his house.
He is a Hindu Brahmin. He provided mat for the Muslims to do Namaz. He allowed Christians to pray in his Pooja room.There were volunteers outside helping people to reach safe places.
They used anything and everything as tools until the army people reached. Once the experts came, they gave the leadership to the more experienced and helped them to help others.
My wife told me that, there were groups of people going through the streets with neck deep water and asking "Sir / Madam, do you need any help?" in front of every house. They provided whatever help they could and they distributed food and essentials. There were groups providing cellphone batteries for 5 minutes to anybody who wanted to talk.
I have seen people fight for food when there is a calamity. Even the most modern countries, when there is a calamity, people fight for food. They think only about themselves at that time. But, when the food was distributed in Chennai, it was calm. People stood in queues and they have given food for the people who are not able to stand in queues (elderly, mothers and kids).
They brought boats. They made temporary rafts and just went on helping people.
On top of all these things, this is what my kids are seeing. This is what they are learning. How to help each other at the time of need. It goes straight into their brain. The images gets implanted there. And then, when there is another calamity, they know what to do.. How to survive..How to get help and how to help others...
This is what I want my kids to learn.. Humanity, without boundaries....There is no wonder that, Chennai is one of the oldest cities in the world. It has survived everything thrown at it.. It will definitely remain so for ever. They are united.They can beat anything.. They can survive anything...
I am a proud Chennaite... I will never forget this in my life! A city which gave me and my family safety in the hour of need..
Thank you Chennai!.. Thank you Indian Army! Thanks you India!!!
Jaya stickers hijack relief effort
- Largely missing during crisis, Amma back in view on rice bags
Chennai, Dec. 5: Jayalalithaa's benign smile is greeting flood victims when they receive relief materials, whether from the government or from private or voluntary agencies.
Her party functionaries and officials are ensuring that "Amma" will be the face of the humanitarian operations by pasting her stickers on relief material before they reach the beneficiaries.
The chief minister has been seen in public just once during the floods, zipping through her RK Nagar constituency for an hour when the first phase of flooding occurred in late November.
After the December deluge she undertook one aerial survey a few hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived for his survey. She did not address the media on Friday, deputing her ministers and officials instead.
But when it comes to relief operations, Amma's visibility will increase manifold. At government offices, rice from 20kg bags are being repacked into 5kg packs with an Amma sticker on top, so whoever receives a bag will see it as a gift from Jayalalithaa.
Relief materials sent to Chennai by voluntary agencies or individuals from other districts too are being intercepted and pasted with the Amma stickers.
"Six of our trucks with relief materials were stopped by AIADMK cadres at Sriperumbudur. They unloaded them, stuck the stickers and put them back in the truck," complained Coimbatore businessman William Daniel.
The practice had begun in Cuddalore, the first district to suffer badly in the November rain.
Initially, there were complaints that AIADMK cadres had hijacked the supplies and distributed them at colonies of their choice, with Jayalalithaa banners displayed behind them to portray the effort as a ruling party initiative.
After complaints, the administration asked all relief materials to be routed through the district collectors. It was here that officials and party workers resorted to the repackaging and labelling.
When the donors discovered this, many of them protested and some stopped sending the material.
But after the December 1 floods, there was again a spurt in relief materials arriving in Chennai. Ruling party workers, facing flak because of the invisibility of their ministers, MLAs and councillors, saw their chance to make it appear as though a caring government had swung into action.
"They printed thousands of Amma labels in no time," a relief volunteer from an NGO said.
The brazen branding of the relief materials has invited snide remarks on the social media. The AIADMK, which usually shrugs off such complaints, has reacted quickly with a media release promising punishment for party cadres hindering relief or threatening volunteers.
"This is nothing but mischief to discredit the government's good work in flood relief," the release said, listing phone numbers, email accounts and Twitter handles where complaints can be sent.
"Wherever pictures of the chief minister are being used on relief material, it is the official relief that is being distributed," it added.
The party's anxiety to stem the controversy comes at a time its ministers and MLAs have been facing public anger whenever they venture into the field to inspect the damage and monitor relief.
On Friday, at Jayalalithaa's R.K. Nagar constituency in north Chennai, ministers N. Viswanathan and Gokul Indira were asked to get off their cars and chastised by angry constituents, who asked them why the mayor and councilors had been missing all these days.
Viswanathan, the power minister, had no answer when asked why electricity had not been restored three days after the rain.
As the crowd got restive, the police whisked the two ministers away while the former MLA Vetrivel, who had vacated the seat for Jayalalithaa, was punched.
The defence forces and the National Disaster Response Force have earned praise for their rescue efforts, but the flood victims are critical of the poor follow-up by the state authorities.
"They have not managed to distribute even packaged drinking water after four days. Where is the Amma mineral water they had marketed with such fanfare?" asked M. Bhaskar, a resident of West Mambalam.