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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 40 New Delhi September 22, 2018

Humane Faces of Kerala Flood

Tuesday 25 September 2018

by Chandrasekhar Bhattacharjee

Kerala, ‘God’s own Country’, is devasted with unpreceedented flood, leaving millions of people homeless; they are striving hard to sustain at relief camps while a few hundreds have been washed away. Amidst bleak and gray sunshine peeping in, P.M. Manoj, a journalist by profession, donated all he decided to spend at his only daughetr’s engagement and marriage celebrations.

Also an unparalleled example is that of Miss Hanan Hamida, a stiudent of Kochi’s Al Assar College, Department of Chemistry. She has been living a hard life with her mother, a mental patient, since Hanan’s father left them helpless many years back. How do they sustain? Hamida used to wake up late at midnight and paddling her cycle went all the way to the railway station to buy fish from the Chambokkara wholesale market and sell those at the locality of Thammanan. She then returned home, prepare food and run for the college some 60 km away from home.

A few months back the people of Kerala came to know about her struggle against the odds through newspaper reports when she faced a tough battle against the troll army. Police arrested one of the culprits and booked him. Hamida saved a few bucks daily for uncertain days in future, despite an ardous life schedule. She donated the entire savings, accumulated to Rs one lakh amd fifty thousand, to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

It is further heartening that a lady handed over her ear-rings, the cherished ornament of her marriage, to the relief collectors while they arrived at her doorstep.

People of Kerala have been going on with exemplary humanitarian activities at the time of grave crisis. People from various corners of the country and even from abroad rushed to donate spontaneously. Bollywood actor and actresses too donated huge sums to govern-ment-sponsorred refief funds. Amitabh Bach-chan, Shahrukh Khan, Karan Johar, Hritik Roshan and many more names may be mentioned. Reportedly Shahrukh Khan and Sunny Leon have donated Rs 21 crores and Rs 5 crores respectively. Ms Leon has also donated 1200 kg of food items.

But, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s friend Vijay Sekhar Sharma, the founder of the mobile payement company ‘PayTM’, donated only Rs 10,000 making a mockery of generosity. No Hindu Babaji, Swamiji, no Hindu temple with huge bank balance, assets, ornaments and properties, not even the BJP’s coveted Brand Baba Ramdev opened their mind to donate small amounts for the sake of the Kerala flood victims.

Just take one example. Twenty billion dollars property is lying solely with Kerala’s renowned Hindu place of worship, Padmanabha Swamy Temple. Only gold coins in this temple are worth Rs 500 crores. The Prime Minister, the erstwhile Chief Minister of Gujarat, who sanctioned Rs 2000 crores for the Gujarat flood relief though the calamity and disaster there was much less in comparison with Kerala, coughed up a meagre sum of Rs 500 crores.

However, several mosques and madrasas opened wide their gates for the flood victims. Not only people from all religions and sects were sheltered there, the managers sent them back to their homes after the flood waters receded with a bag of ration and vegetables to sustain them. The Eid-ul Azha celebration was cancelled and the entire money was donated for flood relief. Just after the Eid, it was Onam, one of the biggest festivals of Kerala. The mosque, a church at Thiruvananthapuram allowed Hindu women to cook Pongal, a mix of rice, coconut and juggernauts at their premises. But, a section of upper-caste Brahmins were seen asking brethrens not to save themselves by sitting on the boats of Muslim boatmen.

Such a devastating flood Kerala never witnessed in the last 125 years. All the distrcts were submerged, some under six-to-ten feet of flood water. The Left partries’ leaderships rued at the Prime Minister’s step-motherly attitude. MPs and the MLAs of the Left parties all over India donated a month’s salary to the Kerala CM’s Relief Fund.

A grave situation is looming large over Kerala after the flood waters have receded. All the districts are in a sorry state. The barrages were forced to open the gates and release excess water to save the barrages due to unprecedented huge rainfall. According to the Metrological Divison’s report, the sudden rainfall was huge this time and 357 times more than normal showers during this season. The fishermen folk of Kerala rendered excellent service to the people saving thousands lives with their boats. The State Government, the Army, the civil society, the NGOs have stood by the people of Kerala. Almost all the States came forward with their help as much as possible. Though reeling under severe financial crisis and in poor economic condition, the West Bengal Government also donated Rs 10 crores for the devasted Kerala people.

Miss Devi, an LL B student of the Kerala Law Academy, is the daughter of journalist P.M. Manoj. She was scheduled to get married to Sudhakaran, a pass-out of the same Academy on August 19. Both the families of the bride and bridegroom were scheduled to celebrate the life-time occasion with fanfare along with friends and relatives. The ring ceremony, the engagement, is very auspicious and important in Malayali marriages, which was also scheduled to take place on the same day.

The Resident Editor of Deshabhimani, the daily mouthpiece of the CPI-M in Kerala, P.M. Manoj, was totally upset and brooding seriously over Kerala’s unprecedented flood situation. He had some plan and discussed that with Mr Gokul, Sudhakaran’s father, bridegroom Advocate Sudhakaran and his daughter Devi time and again. Getting consent from both sides he cancelled the marriage ceremony which was going to take place at Kannur on Sunday (August 19). Mr Manoj then posted the news of cancellation of Devi and Sudhakaran’s marriage ceremony on his facebook page.

Now we get a glimpse of the man with lion-heart and angel-like sensitivity. Common people could never dream of such an awsome gesture. They decided to donate the whole amount earmarked to be spent in the marriage ceremony to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

All the staffers of Deshabhimani, the daily organ of the Kerala CPI-M, are wholetimers. Usually, as everyone knows, in any organ of the Left parties in India, staffers do not get salary but live on meagre wholetimer’s wage and carry out the responsibilites they are assigned with by the strength of extraordinary love and dedication to the party and the people. It is quite easy to understand that once the saved money is donated, it’s impossible to get his daughter married ceremoniously offering feast for the friends and relatives. Still Manoj, alongwith Devi, Sudhakaran, Gokul and all of them had taken such a humane decision.

Manoj and his family as well as Hanan Hamida proved again that humanity is imperishable, it’s immortal. They are the human faces amidst the monstrous Kerala flood.

The senior journalist based in Kolkata, the author is the Assistant Editor of the Bengali weekly periodical, Janaswartha Barta.

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