Religion, Tragedy And Apathy
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Religion, tragedy and apathy

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Religion, tragedy and apathy

Logo 2 OverThe death toll coupled with the destruction of property caused by the Nature’s fury in Uttarakhand is unprecedented in the history of pilgrimage in the religious India. Every year, precious lives of people are being lost during pilgrimages due to stampede, road accidents, collapse of overbridges, fire accidents and natural calamities like floods, etc. State governments ruling the states and every Central Government that comes to power do not want to prevent such tragedies taking place in places of pilgrimages because they are afraid of offending the religious sentiments of thousands of devotees thronging the religious shrines. Governments do not want to educate the citizens about the perils inherent in undertaking arduous journeys in show-clad mountains.  Governments do not want to enlighten the citizens about the need for social service to humanity that is akin to service to God.

The precious man hours and money spent by the millions of pilgrims can be diverted to social work and charity in villages, especially in tribal land and among the downtrodden.

Religious tourism may be a source of earning livelihood for the local people in hilly and snow-clad regions to some extent.  However, the government has to develop the skills of the people living in such places for establishing cottage industries, developing fishing industries along the rivers, planting gardens, etc. Industrialization of such places in green belts and creating infrastructures for hotels and resorts should not be given the first priority.  Let us not do something against the Nature in these fragile regions which are prone to earthquake and other natural calamities. The government should spend more on the welfare of the people living in these regions. Since there are no industries in these places, children studying in these places should be given preference in government jobs. The government should exhort the corporate houses to employ these children in their factories and establishments which are elsewhere. How long we can allow the local people to live on the money given by the visiting pilgrims? How long we can expect the local people to carry the pilgrims on their ponies or in palanquins for their livelihood?

When the weather forecasts indicate possibility of catastrophe through movement of glaciers or through a deluge, the government concerned should warn the people against visiting such places. Enlightening the citizens through education is the need of the hour.

No state government or central government has learnt any lesson after the tragedy. Prevention is better than cure.  

After the tragedy, VIPs make a beeline to the places of tragedy, comfort a few people in front of the television and media cameras; governments make ex-gratia payments to the dead and the living. The politicians make donations and distribute relief materials in vehicles fluttering their party flags. After some months, everything will be forgotten and the people of the regions will be back to square one. 

The brave soldiers who lost their lives in the chopper crash in Gaurikund during their rescue mission will also be forgotten and the whole nation will be watching the IPL matches. There was some news report that the central government has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs.15 lakhs to the family of the personnel who died in the chopper crash.  If this news report is true, we have to lower our heads in shame because a cricket player is paid not less than one crore of rupees after his winning an international game. After the tragedy, there will be politics and apathy. 

One Mr. Ajaz Ashraf, a Delhi based journalist has written a wonderful article in The Hindu dated 4th July, 2013 under the title, "In God's abode, questions for man".  He has observed ultimately, "What is needed is to rescue God from meanings and attributes we assign to Him. In this, the priestly class could play a vital role. But what hope can we derive from stories of pujaris walking away with the donations, running into lakhs of rupees, of which a portion must have been the contribution of those who perished in Uttarakhand?..."

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