Mayan End or One Created by Us?

May 13, 2008, Jaipur: A series of bomb blasts through the pink city leave 80 dead with over 200 grievously injured.

July 25, 2008, Bangalore: Nine low intensity bombs exploded in India’s Silicon Valley

July 26, 2008, Amedabad: The financial hub of Gujarat was attacked in two series of 16 small bomb blasts, killing 56 and injuring over 161.

August 12, 2008, Andhra Pradesh: Death toll due to incessant rainfall rises to 60. Over 40,000 people have been relocated to 7 relief camps.

August 30, 2008, Orissa: 11 dead so far in communal clashes between Hindus and Christians over the killing of VHP member. 9000 people in relief camps.

August 31, 2008, J&K: 34 dead in J&K in firing by security personnel and violent clashes over the Amarnath Land Transfer issue, brewing for the past two months.

September 1, 2008, Bihar: 70 dead in the floods in Bihar caused by the Kosi River changing its course.2.7 million people have been affected in over 16 districts.

This period of ‘Kalyug’ we are in will end in 2012 (according to the predictions of the Mayan calendar). Speculations are rife whether it is going to be a Doomsday scenario of the start of another era of ‘Satyug’, with one third of the world’s population being eliminated. For the non-believers, we do not need much of religion or faith to learn what course humanity will take in the near future. A close look at the world around us is sufficient to make anyone think: What are we coming to?

Looking at the above news snippets, the period of ‘Kalyug’ seems to have arrived for India already, with 3 successful bomb blasts within a span of 2 months, terrorist break-ins at the International Border in Jammu, communal clashes in Orissa, violent protests and demonstrations in J&K, and the Andhra and Bihar floods. However, a Saviour who will shield us from the wrath of God has still not taken on his avatar. But I ask, can’t rational people reason that we could be saviours in our own little ways by being more pro-active in environmental issues; by the government improving national security and making it more centralized rather than have states bickering over issues and placing the blame once an incident has happened? Wouldn’t that be able to save a lot of lives? The government’s role also comes in providing immediate relief to victims of natural disasters along with other organizations.

Death has become commonplace, be it an act of terrorism, poverty, suicide or even a natural disaster. But very few think about this one question – why does it happen? Is it one religion and one system or us ignorant citizens responsible for any disaster that befalls us?

Taking the issue of environmental damage, while economies debate about whether we are facing a natural crisis and decide their levels of willingness (rather unwillingness) to compromise “economic growth” for climate improvement and sustenance, the incidence of natural disasters had increased multifold over the past few decades, which co-incidentally concurs with the period of increased economic and industrial activity. Flash floods in Andhra Pradesh, River Kosi changing its course in Bihar, Hurricane Katrina and Gustav wreaking havoc in Cuba and America, polar ice caps melting, volume of glaciers world over reducing greatly, Himalayas dying (It is a saying- The Himalayas are dead in Afghanistan, Dying in Nepal and Sick in India) are just a miniscule part of the changes taking place in our environment. I suppose our leaders are being farsighted in giving such a ”gift” to the next species that will evolve once the Homo sapiens have been greatly reduced in number. An exaggeration though, but the underlying idea is the same – environmental degradation is fast becoming a grim reality even though it is one we would want to forget in the garb of emerging economies with better standards of living. The death toll and resultant consequences have been pushed to the back of our unconsciousness and deleted in other cases.

With lower religious tolerance amongst the people being rampantly exploited by political parties, communal clashes cause a lot of damage to life and property not to mention the resentment that will be the seed for future uproars. The riots following the 1993 Mumbai Blasts, the Godhra Riots in 2002, the Amarnath land transfer issue and now the Orissa clashes have all had religious twists to them which impacted the people and the local economy in a big way. Why is religious intolerance tolerated by the political parties and the intelligentsia at large? Shouldn’t harmony be advocated and active steps taken to ensure minimal damage?

India has been a victim of terrorism since the late 1980s. First, the Kashmiri Pandits were driven away from the valley, and then the Valley remained handicapped throughout the ‘90s with regular violence and terrorist activities. Only money flowed into the valley with no remedial plan of action. This terrorism has now become a national issue with attacks in Ayodhya, Akshardham, New Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Bangalore and Amedabad. Can national security be compromised in the case of intelligence failure? The system in India remains largely decentralized with the Central Government having no or little say. With serious threats surfacing every now and then the States are clearly unequipped to handle such sensitive matters. Not only is there of lack of collaboration between states, they also face a severe personnel crunch. Not to mention occasional lack of interest as was shown in the case of Gujarat being absent for the security meeting just few days before the serial bomb blasts rocked Ahmedabad.

In India, superstition breathes free and is the oxygen of regional politics. It is time such parochial views are throttled and we discuss issues that matter not issues that we do not understand (read : religion). As Marx puts it, Religion is a consolation of man’s degraded condition; it is the imaginary realization of human perfection.

Charulata Somal

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