Friday, 1 May 2015

Brute Force

Scenes from Nepal after the earthquake. Source -

Quake. Fire. Rain. The past week or so has been tumultuous, to say the least. The City of Joy plummeted into a time of unfortunate mishaps, all in a day or two, but it was our neighbours in Nepal that took the hit worse than imaginable. There was torrential rain throughout the eastern and northern regions of the country, coupled with the fire at Citimart, New Market. But understandably, it was the devastating earthquake that caught most of the attention.

There is probably nobody left on social media who has not heard a thing about the Nepal Earthquake by now. We have had hashtags trending the news of the plight of their inhabitants, urging rescue rescue missions, collecting relief funds and many other such positive turnabouts. However, the problem with social media, conversely, is that it provides a platform for the display of unchecked stupidity. Regrettably, a natural calamity such as the one that struck Nepal recently, becomes the clarion call for rumour-mongers to spring into life. Spreading false news, unconfirmed rumours and the like only serves to instill fear and panic in the hearts and minds of the common public, thus making a bad situation worse.

Source -

The aftermath of the earthquake saw several theories floating around. Posts went viral warning people that there were other earthquakes, measuring even higher on the Richter scale to follow. This rumour has since been proved unquestionably wrong, but it did its bit in scaring and even making some people move out of their homes in anticipation of devastation.

In another instance, it was apparently reported that NASA had warned of an earthquake hitting India a day after the Nepal quake, and that this next earthquake would measure over 8 on the Richter scale. There was even talk of a possible series of earthquakes to shake the Indian lands. The mention of NASA and the prediction of doom immediately struck fear in the hearts of thousands. The Indian government had to clarify in an official statement that no such prediction had been made, in order to quash the rumours.

There were plenty of other posts and text messages circulating the country that declared an oncoming apocalypse, and made up fantastic tales of earthquakes stronger and more destructive than ever seen before in history. There were strong beliefs in places as prominent as Lucknow, Patna, Kolkata and Mumbai, that doomsday was imminent and there would soon be another earthquake, this time rocking the Indian subcontinent as a whole.

There is also another brand of stupidity on display over social media – the type where people post messages saying how much they “enjoyed” the feeling of an earthquake, or how much they “regret” not having felt it, whichever way it works. There were also some who went to the extent of expressing “hope” that they would experience an earthquake soon. As ridiculous as this might sound, the mainstream media is not too far behind. We have had TV channels showing what they call “earthquake selfies” – endorsing the complete apathy of unsympathetic souls. While people starve in Nepal, the Indian media channels are highlighting the fact that Pakistani relief agencies have sent in beef masala along with their food. While the death toll mounts and the affected people desperately look for relief, functionaries of India’s ruling party went on record to blame the earthquake on the fact that the Vice President of the opposing party went to visit the holy shrine of Kedarnath without “purifying” himself. (Source - TOI)

Source - The Times of India

The crux of the matter is, in times of crisis, it is best not to trust unreliable data and information. We have not yet developed the technology to prevent or even predict a natural disaster such as an earthquake. However, we can do our bit to make sure that we do not add to the chaos and confusion. In a situation of despairing odds, a calm head is the need of the hour.
Let us unite in helping our neighbours cope with the jolt. Please do send in whatever help you can via the various agencies that are catering to this cause. And above all, keep the affected lives in your prayers.

Stay strong, Nepal. You will rise again. 

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