December 27, 2004

Kanyakumari Collaborates

Originally posted by Rohit Gupta from WorldChanging: Another World Is Here, reBlogged by ts

kanyakumari2.jpg While we face a tough time ahead, I am glad that some WorldChanging stories can be reported, even in the face of the tsunami tragedy.

The picture is taken from the southernmost tip of India, where until today there were hundreds of tourists trapped at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, off the coast of Kanyakumari district. In an amazing display of humanitarian collaboration and bravery, the local fishermen saved roughly 500 of the 600 trapped people, while the role of relief agencies was severely limited by the breakdown of communications and bad weather. Even as I write this, most local media can only offer conflicting figures.

A majority of the deceased from the mainland were local fishermen who had gone out in the sea, to net their nightly catch. Throughout the day and night, and the following day, small boats and catamarans, perhaps too small to brave the violent sea, were plying up and down the strait that divides the island from the Indian mainland.

While the Indian Air Force kept dropping food and medical supplies, it is the fishermen who’ve kept the Kanyakumari death toll (524) as low as it is. Most of the saved were not locals, but tourists, including a Supreme Court judge.

There were no riots or cases of civic indiscipline reported in that district, nor in any other part of India, during the rescue efforts. Thankfully, the Indian media has taken due note of the effort.

Also, Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, has offered extensive aid to Sri Lanka, and at least four Indian Navy ships have already carried medicines, food and water to Galle, one of the most affected areas in Sri Lanka.

One of my media friends is a TV show host, and is writing live accounts of the frenzy on our community blog while rushing around in search of loved ones.

We are also setting up a database of helplines and donation funds, more on that soon.

(Posted by Rohit Gupta in The Second Superpower - Cooperation, Politics and Activism at 04:59 AM)