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My tribute to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam,

Lt Col R K Singh (Retd)

 

 

        

 

 

 

 

 

Disaster Management- A Distant Dream!

The first thing we do in the morning is to check the newspaper for the weather forecast for the day and within minutes we know if it’s going to rain today or the sun will shining on our head!

We can almost predict the conditions of a flood or a draught in this high tech word and still we call Disaster Management........A “Distant Dream?”

The dictionary defines a Disaster as great or sudden misfortune. The first thing that comes to our mind when we hear the word disaster is an Earthquake....or a flood!

As we all must have learnt as toddlers, that disaster’s can be divided into two parts, Natural & Man-made Disasters. Natural disasters include the disasters that are caused by nature, for example, earthquakes, floods, draughts etc. Whereas Man made disasters as the name suggests are the disasters that are caused due to the negligence humans. It is said the Nature is the most unpredictable thing man has ever come across. But isn’t it so strange that even though we can estimate the occurrence of a natural disaster but it is almost impossible to predict disasters like a terrorist attack or  plane crash.

We all are given an action plan as to what should be done in case of a natural calamity but there is no action plan as to what we can do in case of manmade disaster.  We have the best security systems they say. And still their planes get high jacked?  We have the best Law & Order they say. And still crime is a reality?

Let me refer to some examples now, It was a wonderful chilly night of November. Some of the royal families of Mumbai decide to have dine out in a five star hotel. Some romantic newly married couples are staying in one of India’s most prestigious hotels. Who knew that we will never be able to see those people again!  Yes I’m talking about the 26/11 terrorist attack. Where a bunch of young outsiders come into our country with Ak 47’s and grenades and ruin the finest hotels of our country and kill hundreds of Indian’s and foreigners who were exploring India. What could we do? Well even though we killed all the terrorists and captured one, we still could not save those precious lives!

Its not only India, This is the case of every country. I’m sure all of you have heard about Osama’s 9/11 attacks in the States.

It is so surprising that we, the Humans are so curiously inventing mechanisms which will be able to device the occurrence of an Earthquake or a Tsunami which is not in our control but we almost ignore the management of the disasters that are created by us our self.

Perhaps this is the reason that we still call... Disaster Management........A Distant Dream!

-          Mrs. Sarbdeep Kaur

Lecturer (Mathematics)

 

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Need to Save Our Culture

 

The Indian Civilization is the third oldest civilization that emerged ever since the humans started their long journey of progress. Our geographical location which turned ancient India in to a sub-continent added to the distinct nature of this great civilization and restricted the influence of other civilizations. Although there were foreign invasions by Greeks, Turks, Afghans and others, but the reach of invaders who came through Himalayas remained limited to the northern part of the country. The southern part was invaded by the Europeans who took the sea route. The invaders also brought with them their religious beliefs and social systems and did try to impose them on the natives. But, despite all these military, social and cultural invasions the Indian society always managed to protect its distinct inherent Indian character. The ancient Hindu culture was so strong and at the same time so flexible, that it absorbed all the other cultures and still survived without any royal patronage, despite going through thousand years of slavery or dominance of foreigners, which started in the 10th century and ended in the middle of 20th century.

 

The salient features of the Indian culture have been its religious tolerance, well entrenched caste system and joint family system. The Indians also pride themselves for being peace loving, respectful and highly moralistic in their day to day lives. Respect for women, compassion for weak and downtrodden and charity for social and religious causes could be counted as some more characteristics of Indian culture. With the passage of time there were changes caused by external factors like invasions by invaders or occupation of the country by the Europeans. Internally, changes in religious and social orders were also caused by eminent social and religious reformers. But all these changes could not change the outlook of our people to a great extent, or it could also be said that the rate of change was so slow that it did not cause any noticeable impact on our culture.

 

Although, things never remain static and change is a permanent phenomenon, but the speed of change has become very conspicuous in the last 20-30 years. There are numerous reasons for it. End of the foreign rule, empowerment of common people in a democratic set up, developments in infrastructure, advent of electronic media, internet and spread of education have ignited the imagination of millions of Indians. Of late, the developments in communication systems and increasing globalization have made the world very small. In the rapidly changing world scenario there is tremendous increase in consumerism and commercialization of all aspects of our lives.

 

In this changed scenario the developed nations have once again got a chance to impose themselves on countries like India. Unfortunately, this time they are proving to be more successful than the last time. Through superior means of communications like TV and internet and increasing consumerism and commercialization they have altered our lifestyles like never before. The food habits of our young generation have changed drastically. The love for home food is waning and pizzas, burgers, sandwiches or Chinese preparations are becoming more popular. The dress sense has undergone a huge change. The days of sarees or traditional Indian dresses are numbered and very soon these will be reserved for special occasions only. European dresses are more in vogue. The sleep pattern of youth has also got altered. ‘Early to bed and early to rise’ has been totally reversed. Call centers and other such business ventures have changed it all. Our own festivals are loosing out to Valentine or Friendship Day. Similarly, foreign brands in food, fashion and consumer goods have started dictating our choices.

 

It is not a sin to make use of modern technology and remain abreast with the changing times. It is also not bad to adopt what is good in other cultures. But, very soon the question in front of us will be how to protect our distinct Indian identity. What is it that we can take pride in? What is it that we will be able to call Indian? Our forefathers have fought very hard for protecting their Indian-ness. They made great sacrifices and ferociously resisted each and every attempt by the foreign invaders and occupants. But, the younger India is giving it away rather easily or even voluntarily, without even caring about its ramifications.

 

It is a serious concern that needs to be addressed by all Indians. It is high time that these issues are brought to the focus of our discussions, before it becomes too late. The religious and ethnic societies can play very emphatic and vital role in reminding their communities about the basic tenets of glorious Indian culture. More than 70% of our population is below 30 years of age. Therefore, there is need to educate the younger generation about correct traditions in simpler and logical manner. We should discard those age-old rituals and traditions, which have lost their utility value in the changed scenario, because the younger generation is much more intelligent. It gets convinced more by sound and convincing logic and less by the weight of orthodox and irrelevant traditions. There is a need to make changes in our ceremonies to make them simpler, meaningful and attractive. The youth should be associated more in organizing our religious and social functions by assigning them more responsibilities. The elders should assume advisory and supervisory roles. Unless we are able to attract younger people in our social and religious mainstream, we are fighting a loosing battle to save our culture.

 

            The present generation has this onerous responsibility of passing on the cultural heritage to the next generations. But, with so much dilution of values at such a fast rate, one wonders if there will be anything left to pass on after 20-30 years. It is time to wake up and recognize the reality that our cultural heritage is indeed in danger. Only conscious and concerted efforts of all of us can save it from extinction. The time to act is now.

Lt Col (Retd) RK Singh

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