The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Sunday, 30 June 2013


Officially, the rescue operation of the stranded pilgrims and tourists in Uttarakhand is almost over. Government figures say over 1,05,000 have been evacuated. Government is capping the death toll at around 900.  Speaker of the Uttarakhand assembly says some 10,000 could be dead while the chief minister of the state says exact number of deaths would never be known. Mass cremation of bodies has begun but digging out bodies from the mud sludge with boulders, almost three metres high, is an uphill task.

And midst all this, the cry that was always there, desperately looking for a voice, is now finding its listeners, introducing us to yet another horror tale that we all knew, but wasn’t hearing about. Many cities of Uttarakhand stand devastated. With homes gone and connectivity snapped, most of the towns and villages in affected areas wear a deserted, ghost-town like look.

The two weeks of the Uttarakhand disaster, like any other calamity of this scale, have given humanity a pain that will be felt forever.

But, at the same time, these two weeks of the man-made disaster have also reaffirmed the strengthening perception of the masses about the callousness of politicians and politicians-controlled bureaucratic apparatus in dealing with the concerns of the common men, the proclaimed basic entity of the masses in a democratic (read pseudo-democratic) set-up like India.

Three days before the disaster, to the ultimate devastation of June 16-17, to the aftermath of the cloudburst, glacier-melting and flash floods, and since then, every detail cries out loudly to implicate the political apathy and administrative delinquency.

As usual, in the aftermath of a man-made disaster, the blame game is on and is getting uglier each passing day with more skeletons tumbling out. There are clear indications that the state government was alerted multiple times from June 14-16 of heavy to very heavy rainfall. The state Met department of Uttarakhand had even asked the state government to evacuate the pilgrims. In fact, a reporter told one of his relatives, who was in the upper reaches of Uttarakhand, was advised by a high-level bureaucrat of Uttarakhand to climb down two days before the catastrophe of June 16-17. Every finding into the ‘hows and whys’ of the disaster every passing day tells us the political administration did nothing but slept over the alerts.

Experts say Uttarakhand has witnessed a boom of unplanned development in recent years. Fragile ecology of the state has been manipulated beyond a point of reconciliation with the nature. Riverbeds and riverfronts are encroached heavily. Dozens of hydroelectric power projects (45 operational and over 100 under development) and hundreds of big and small dams crisscross the state. Environmentalists, activists and scientists have been regularly raising voices against sanctioning so many hydroelectric power projects and dams without the necessary scientific studies. But politicians always slept on the reports; always killed the warnings. In fact, they have vehemently pleaded with the central government to denotify the preserved areas and not to notify more areas as sensitive ecological zones that prohibit any activity detrimental to the ecological balance.

In order to earn quick tourism money, the relatively inaccessible areas like Kedarnath, which are under snow for half of the year, were made accessible with poorly laid roads while the hills of Uttarakhand needed roads built with specialized technology. These bad roads aided to the calamity monumentally. A report by the Indian Institute of Technology (Roorkee) and the Bureau of the Bureau of Indian Standards blames bad roads in contributing significantly to the landslides.

These bad roads did increase the tourist influx. But, being one of the major infrastructural casualties in the aftermath of the disastrous floods, these very roads stranded thousands in various parts of the state. The resultant loss of connectivity further hampered the relief and rescue efforts.

Why didn’t the politicians and the politicians-controlled bureaucracy take into account the expert warnings and views before connecting the remote parts of the state with a fragile ecosystem of relatively younger and unstable Himalayan region?

Each of these factors is a direct outcome of the human greed of political corruption. Without politicians and the politicians-controlled bureaucracy, such unrestricted and obscene exploitation of nature damaging the ecological balance of the area wasn’t possible.

But it wasn’t enough. The obscene display of political corruption continued unabated even after it emerged how massive was the devastation in the Uttarakhand hills.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -