Why nature is kind to India

Japan’s tsunami and earthquake have been in the headlines for days now. Reports of people’s stoicism, orderly queues at rehab centers and workers at the nuclear plant not abandoning their jobs despite the grave danger once again proved the nature of the Japanese. Buildings that swayed but didn’t crash and the death toll limited to the current figures showed the world how prepared these people are for calamities. These reports leave the rest of the world in disbelief. These Japanese are a different breed, aren’t they?

We in India don’t need earthquakes for chaos to reign, the disappearance of a traffic policeman at a junction will do. No tsunami necessary to plunge us into panic. Reports of one baby’s death after pulse polio administration would do. Not even a rumble of the earth needed to bring buildings down, the first monsoon does the job neatly.

There was a power outage at a convenience store a few days after the quake and Japanese shoppers quietly kept their purchases back in the shelves and walked out!

Even in ordinary times our people can be expected to “make the best use” of such a scenario. People evacuating from the radiation affected areas got out without stampede.

Contrast this with the regular reports of deaths due to lack of crowd control in our places. Even crowds to collect admission forms for kindergarten turn violent. This is to show our future citizens that might is right!

If obeying laws is written in the DNA of the Japanese, disobeying is written in ours. You can plead, warn and threaten but people will use mobiles, unfasten seat belts, spit, pluck flowers and urinate when specifically asked not to do so. Like it is done with children, should we tell people to do the things that we don’t want them to do? Imagine these notices, “Please do not bother to buy tickets” in buses or “Please carve out your names on this ancient structure” at an ASI site. No that won’t work either, because people won’t care to read the signs anyway.

Japan is expected to make a slow but steady comeback. The proud people are not too keen to accept foreign aid. Far lesser tragedies will wipe out many more people here and the donations to the victims will be swept away by the tsunami of politicians’ greed and inefficiency. That is perhaps why we don’t have calamities of the Japanese magnitude.

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