We have already quoted this very interesting article published by S. Anand in Outlook India. Everybody Loves A Good Tsunami depicts some of the secret drama that took place behind the scene of the 2004 Tsunami relief effort in India.
Too much uneffective help
... He has also managed to get MAM to build 145 more houses for Pudukuppam. While officially only 137 houses are damaged, 232 will be coming up in their place. "This shows how these NGOs have so much to spend. The tsunami's created a lot of benamis," says AzhagesanWhy building more houses than needed? The same thing happened with the boats donated to replace the ones that fishermen used to work with :
Too many boats is another spoiler by the NGOs. Admits Vivekanandan: "There was an oversupply of fibre boats, mostly defective. The motor boats now are ten times the actual loss."The fishermen used to sail with catamarans. Fibre boats are more modern but they have a problem :
None of these boats is useful. "When we used them for inland fishing, they capsized. We collected our gear and swam to safety," says fisherman S. PugazhendiNGOs are supposed to help. Why replacing the old fashion catamarans with fibre boats?
Advertizing under the pretext of helping
"NGOs seem to have preferred fibre boats because you can't really paint your names on catamarans."
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The less we can say is that this organization doesn't want to go unnoticed. Each action of compassion has been extensively tagged :
Every MAM house prominently bears the conch and discus symbols of the Math. The place has been renamed Amritanandamayi Nagar.Indeed, the lotus, conches and pictures of Amma are everywhere around the houses that her organization has built.
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The ashram doesn't lack imagination to advertize itself in various ways. A slideshow is available on one of the official websites, to show the houses built in a place called Samanthampettai. Besides the hard-working volunteers, we can also see on slides 1 and 7, a big white fishing boat elevated on pillars, bearing the name of the generous donators. On slides 3, 4 and 5, huge pictures of Amma's face are standing between the houses.
When help doesn't help
one fallout of too many boats is lack of labour. "This results in parents employing their own children, forcing them to drop out of school," says an activist
The houses were supposed to be given for free to the tsunami victims. But the sudden availability of funds flowing from all parts is likely to have awaken indecent greed in some hearts :
There are several allegations against Chandran. Says resident C. Anbazhagan: "He has asked Rs 2,500 from each occupant of the MAM house." Chandran, who sold three acres of his land to the government at Rs 35,000 per acre, convinced 'beneficiaries' to part with this Rs 2,500 per head as compensation for the low price he got
In a more dramatic turn of events, some people had to suffer for the 2009 flood victims to be relieved. In Dongarampur Karnataka, Dalit farmers have been evicted from the land that they had been cultivating for the past seven years, for the Mata Amritanandamayi Math to build houses :
Paramesh has alleged that the landlord forged documents, sold the land allotted to him and others without their knowledge to the district administration for construction of Aasare houses for the 2009 flood victims.
“The district administration, in turn, handed over the land to the Mata Amritanandamayi Trust that latter built houses for the flood victims on the same land,” he said.
The official statements and promotional booklets only show us smiling faces and impressive numbers to advertize Embracing The World. So let's remember that behind the curtains, things are not as joyfull as they seem. Let's not forget the people in need who, after being struck by natural disasters, must then suffer from human mistakes.