Friday, September 09, 2005

Unseemly Gloating

Rediff commentator T.V.R. Shenoy credits Katrina with exposing the seamy side of the US. He writes:

The question intrigues me given the vastly different ways in which the people of Asia and those of the United States reacted in the face of immense calamity. The tsunami that struck nations on the Indian Ocean rim caused thousands of deaths but it also served in some strange way to draw people together.

The looting, arson, rape, and murder that television cameras caught in graphic detail in the devastated city of New Orleans was another story altogether. Look at Sri Lanka for instance, where the tsunami led to a (sadly brief) armistice between the Tamil Tigers and the Government of Sri Lanka so that aid could be rushed in.

Nor was there any of this criminal behavior visible when Mumbai endured the heaviest rains in over a century.

As we've noted before, there was indeed criminal activity in Tsunami ravaged areas. Further, as regards to how fellow Indians react to calamity, please refer to 1984.

It's one thing to say US authorities bungled Katrina's aftermath, it's quite another to gloat about it -- when our own emperor really has no clothes. Too much of the latter is going on, alas.

(Link courtesy: Seriously Sandeep)


libertarian said...


Your title "Unseemly Gloating" captures the mindset of this writer. He's got a terribly smug attitude which doesn't fit the data in India well.

Hopefully, there is enough from the Indian press, people and government that registers the real concern that Indians do share with Americans. The following Pew Report was an eye-opener for me. India seems to be the only major country where the people view the US favorably. Hopefully TVR and his type are not the only ones being heard.

indianpatriot said...

Libertarian is wrong in this respect. Lot of indians in Pew report are in favor of America for following reason.

1) Lot of Laskar E Toiba, Jaish E Mohammed terrorists instead of infiltrating to India are now directing their attention to Iraq. Most of Indians are enjoying this unending Tamashas between Jihadis who want to convert entire world to Dar ul Islam and Evangelical administration who wants to evangelize entire world starting with Middle East.

2) I have enclosed interesting link written by Swapan Das Gupta who also gloats much heavily than T.V.R. Shenoy and who used to Contribute to Wall Street Journal.
Physician heal thyself on September 4
3) Bottomline the present american establishment (both parties) donot respect Indian culture and only court nris for their money. Instead of talking about american sensitivity about indo iranian relations why cannot america be sensitive about Indian sensitivities. There is a report today that CIA looked other way about Dr. Khan activities and prevented Holland in prosecuting him

Primary Red said...

Libertarian, well said.

Indianpatriot, for all our warmth for America, we too are puzzled by the Pew Report (not that even a misleading report is not good PR!).

In rural UP, that this blogegr visited in December last, there was a lot of anti-Americanism openly on display. If what was being said there is any indication, Pew likely sampled only urban India.

We agree about the motives of Jihadis -- but to compare those killers with the Bush administration is, regrettably, a real low blow.

As for Iran, its about negotiating the right deal -- which does exist out there. If Iran were to promise never to test a device and to quit sponsoring terrorism directed against Israel, in return, it will be accepted fully into the comity of nations.

Sooner or later, a deal much like this will hopefully be struck.

Best regards.

indianpatriot said...

I have posted entire article by Swapan Das Gupta since I did not find links anywhere.

Pysician, heal thyself first!

It may sound callous, but the truth is that the thousands of middle class Indians who sat glued to CNN watching and discussing, of all things, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, weren't remotely driven by a sense of Christian charity or Hindu compassion. On the contrary, you could detect their smirk at the descent of the American Dream into a Third World nightmare.

Don't get me wrong, the Indian viewer wasn't gloating at the possible discomfiture of President George W Bush or echoing the global warming alarmism of the ayatollahs of environmentalism. There was just a quiet satisfaction that a country which believes in its divine right to offer gratuitous advice to everyone on every conceivable subject was now being shown up with its pants down. BBC World, the world's most infuriatingly sanctimonious TV channel, didn't need to lace its footage with the sepulchral voice that accompanies every calamity in 'Bungler-dish' and sub-Saharan Africa. The chaos of New Orleans was the worst advertisement for Western civilisation in a very long time.

It is not merely that India manages its disasters, from the Orissa super-cyclone and Gujarat earthquake to last year's tsunami in Tamil Nadu, much more effectively. Narendra Modi, for example, should have got his own back by offering the services of the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority to the State of Louisiana. What we witnessed on real time TV wasn't merely a demonstration of administrative sloth, political panic and social disarray in one American city. In the unhinged, profane rantings of the Mayor of New Orleans we witnessed the demolition of some of the most fundamental assumptions of the American Dream.

Most striking was the widespread demonstration of criminality. Every disaster leads invariably to some looting and lawlessness. Even the folklore around the Blitz in London, 1940, cannot wash away the fact that some people took advantage of someone else's misfortune. However, what was witnessed in New Orleans wasn't just crime; it was the descent of a city into complete anarchy. The organised armed gangs looting empty houses and ransacking shops, the widespread instances of rape and the desertion of one-third of the police force, made New Orleans resemble a Central African town in the throes of regime change.

It is said that the goonda-raj was a result of helplessness. Some 70,000 people packed into a baseball stadium without drinking water and toilet facilities can easily forget the importance of decency and gentlemanly conduct. Yet, what I find inexplicable is why there weren't armies of volunteers bringing food, water and medicines into New Orleans. In the aftermath of every flood or earthquake in India, we see home-grown organisations such as the Ramakrishna Mission, Bharat Sevasram Sangh, RSS and assorted Rotary Clubs taking charge of emergency services and complementing the Government machinery. Have voluntary agencies disappeared from the US? Are American NGOs only for export?

More significant was the irrelevance of Church bodies. The evangelists who litter the landscape of the Deep South are cash-rich and have an amazing knack of turning up at odd places promising deliverance. How come we didn't hear of them providing solace to their flock and engaging in Christian charity in New Orleans? There are reports that the few charity workers who turned up beat a hasty retreat after being threatened. What does this reveal about the supposed importance of Christian values in the civic life of America? And to imagine US evangelists have the gumption to preach to Indians.

What was equally striking was the horrific lack of compassion for both humans and animals. The Daily Telegraph reported a Baptist hospital turning away homeless survivors from the deluge at gunpoint. "They would not even let us into the parking lot." The Washington Times described how a distraught boy was forcibly separated from his pet dog by the National Guards.

In the past three days, American sanctimoniousness was busted. The message from the rest of the world is loud and clear: Physician, heal thyself first.


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