Tuesday, September 6, 2005

A week after Katrina

The lead story on BBC and CNN continues to be Katrina, almost a week after the disaster. The images are still shocking. The city of New Orleans is still under water and it is said it may take many weeks to pump it out. But a few things are striking:

1. We are yet to get a death toll from the tragedy. Today the mayor said 10,000 may have died, though the official figure is something like 71. But if there was a similar natural disaster elsewhere, the US would have immediately put a figure to the possible death toll.

2. Katrina is one of those incidents that happen in the US, which unveils to the world at large some inherant, inexplicable paradoxes of the American society. Slowly but surely CNN is discussing the racial aspect to this tragedy, which the BBC had spoken of on day one itself. Not just Americans, people of many other countries too believe that racial issues are a thing of the past in the US. But tragedies like Katrina suddenly rips open up an underbelly of the American society that makes one shudder.

In an article in The Guardian of September 5, Jonathan Freedland talks of the r
eceding floodwaters exposing the dark side of America, and of a country waking up to injustice and high-level incompetence.

The following two paras are interesting:

  • Finally, America will have to get over the shock of seeing itself in a new, unflattering light. It is not just the lawlessness, violence and gun culture that has been on show in New Orleans. It is also that America likes to think of itself as the "indispensable nation", the strongest, richest, most capable country on the face of the earth.
  • That belief had already taken a few blows. The vulnerability exposed on 9/11 was one. The struggle in Iraq - where America has become a Gulliver, tied down - was another. But now the giant has been hit again, its weak spot exposed. When corpses float in the streets for five days, the indispensable nation looks like a society that cannot take care of its own. When Sri Lanka offers to send emergency aid, the humiliation is complete.


  1. Well said!!!

    And look at Mumbai...the Mumbaikar rose to the 'occasion'and showed tremendous spirit and humanity in helping himself and his fellow man to overcome the adversity. I feel so proud to be an Indian today.

  2. Apart from that there is another important lesson in there for the Americans.

    When times are bad and social and economic injustice rampant, people get desperate. And desperation shows in the form of violence.

    It applies to the rest of the world too just as it happened in New Orleans.
    America led military aggression’s not the right way to go about fighting terrorism. And Americans need to realize that.