India Uncut

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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Despatches 30: Uncivil war

One of the saddest things I have seen in my journey through Tamil Nadu is that in village after village, the villagers fight with each other to get hold of relief material. Say a truck comes with food handouts. Immediately crowds gather around it and fight to get the supplies being given. Many of the relief organisations that drive down don’t bother to actually spend time in a village and assess its needs – they simply thrust things into the hands that reach out into their truck, and then they drive off.

The consequence of this is that the strongest people end up getting all the goodies, and this happens time and again, as truck after relief truck passes by. The regular winners of booty may even start hoarding the supplies they get their hands on. This, naturally, leads to fights, as those who don’t get any relief, or who get too little of it, start fighting with the ones who do.

The irony in all this is that often the people who are most affected don’t even go to the relief trucks to get help, they just sit in what is left of their huts, often in a state of shock. They think of what has passed, and not the truck that passes, while outside, people fight.
amit varma, 7:52 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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