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Sriram Balasubramanian
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 17 : 40

The earth shook yet we were clueless


The earth shook. The floor I was sitting on was shaking for about 5 seconds. I was in my world when I was shaken by my colleague next to me. There was a scramble downstairs walking down 5 floors in the building. As I was walking downstairs with my colleague, in my sub conscious mind, I had a sense of slight shock, a slight sense of panic and a sense of urgency. What worried me the most was that everyone on was almost clueless on what to do.


Clueless is an appropriate word for most of us in India with regard to major natural disasters. People were scrambling downstairs either in a lackadaisical manner or with irrelevant theories on the aftermath of these quakes. One bunch of jokers had the audacity to update their facebook statuses' before leaving the premises. Some tweeters are so insensitive with their dumb jokes in such traumatic situations. Dude, its an earthquake! Adding more fuel to the fire, there are people who speculate and whip up sentiments with regards to what might happen in sometime around or what would have happened. Most of us, including me, had no idea of what one needs to do during a disaster. This is due to the lethargic and pathetic state of disaster management in the state as well as the country.

Disaster management is nonexistent:

Educated people, leave alone the illiterate's, are not aware of what to do during a disaster. How many of us have been through an earthquake drill? How many us have had a session on disaster management? Systems are not in place to take these threats seriously and there are barely any awareness campaigns in public life. Even in schools, there are barely any awareness drills that are conducted to tell the students about the quake and its effects. There has to be a governmental mechanism which advocates and spreads the idea of disaster management to the school going and working class. Government's need to take proactive steps unlike the reactive steps to these disasters. Tremors are not new in the Southern coastal cities, it has been pretty frequent. Though it has been mild, there is every chance that something big might flare up someday. Disaster management can save many lives' and keep people much more confident during such unfortunate circumstances. In addition, it can also help to create an atmosphere of calm amidst the chaos around them. Adding to this illiteracy of the educated class in handling disaster is the pathetic state of buildings in major cities.

Most buildings are a sham:

Office buildings in most urban cities are a sham. Forgive me for the harsh language but that is the reality. The building that I was in is so hopelessly maintained that you will be alarmed at how inept they are. Most buildings in urban India are

a) Do not have a back up evacuation plan

b) Do not understand what disaster mitigation is and

c) Are clueless on how to react during such disasters.

In an era where the Japanese are building earth quake resistant buildings, we are sitting here exploring what to do post an earthquake in our major cities. Most of the buildings are not earthquake proof and they do not have a proper mechanism to react to such situations. Again, the policy here from the building owners and administrators is to be reactive and not proactive. This is the reality in top notch buildings in city which has multinational companies setting up offices. Even if the buildings are not providing them with such facilities, why don't the MNC's or other companies demand it from them, something they would do in developed countries with elan? What about the smaller buildings across the inner districts of the country? Where does this leave us?

People will move on because this is India right? :

The alarming aspect of this entire thing is that it will be forgotten. As the days progress, things will be forgotten. People will move on with the rot that has been thrown with them. People will move on with being uneducated about handling disasters. People will move on with the sub standard and hopelessly maintained buildings. People will move on with this rot because this is India, if this was the US, the world will fall apart, wont it?

For all my whining, if you do ask me what I am doing writing this after feeling the tremors a few hours ago? I am writing this because this message will spread only when it's the news, if not it will be swamped by everything else. I am writing this because this might affect you and being an educated Indian, you have to be aware of this, not helpless.

Its time we woke up from this mess before it's too late, may God save this country.

5 Things to do in an Earthquake:

1) DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops

2) Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.

3) DO NOT use the elevators.

4) Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

5) Once outside move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires

(The author can be reached on his Facebook page)


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More about Sriram Balasubramanian

Sriram Balasubramanian is a Journalist, voracious reader, avid Blogger, social enthusiast and a believer in excellence not mediocrity. With an inherent passion towards journalism and writing, he believes in playing the "Straight Drive" all the time. Besides this, he has a MS in Engineering Management and has played Chess for Singapore.



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