I have been thinking of writing this for the last three days. What prevented me from doing it is the apprehension that whether this is the right platform or place to do it. Considering the kind of intellectual discussions on this place, perhaps, it is wrong. But sometimes, situation demands one to set aside such apprehensions and swallow whatever little pride one has. I am in exactly such a situation. Let me start by apologising to Prof Wolff and the regular readers of this blog for using this place to make an appeal/request for contribution.
I am from India and a couple of months back, Prof Wolff had kindly offered me some space to talk about the place I hail from. Well, India is a large and diverse country and I am from Kerala, one of the southern states in India. For the last one week, my state has been reeling from incessant rains and related floods and landslides. As per official estimates death toll has crossed over 300. The toll is likely to rise further as people are still trapped in buildings and rescue teams are yet to reach them. India is still an under developed country, although the federal government likes to pretend that we are just two steps away from being developed. As a result, Kerala is still largely dependent on individual contributions to tide over the unprecedented crisis. Economic loss is over Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 10 million = Rs 1crore). So, if any of you are willing to contribute (whatever little), it will be of immense help. Another reason for making this appeal on this place is that at present, rupee is sliding against dollar with $1= Rs 70. In other words, my one rupee contribution may not fetch a slice of bread, but your one dollar can help the disaster affected people buy two packets of bread. Just for comparison, one relief camp in one district need on an average 65 kg of rice (that is our staple food) and an average quality rice will cost Rs 35/kg. There are close to 100 such camps in most districts depending on the severity of the condition.
For contributions you can go to Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief fund and the site is: www.donation.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in
Google and Amazon have also set up contribution links.
For those, who are not familiar with Kerala, 12 out of 14 districts in the state have been affected. It is the only state in India, where a Communist (though namesake) government is in place. It was also in Kerala in 1957 that the world’s first democratically elected Communist government assumed office. Historically it has great significance as Kerala is the state in India with the highest HDIs. Also, most of India, including the central (Federal) government ruled by the right-wing BJP. Not that any of its matters when seeking funds for disaster relief.
I offered this background as I want you all to make an informed decision. I am aware of many cases where people (especially from third world countries) have set up fraud online accounts to seek money. As a precautionary measure, I urge, anyone who is considering to contribute, to go to Google and check for news on Kerala floods. Alternatively, you can go to YouTube and type Malayalam news live. Mute it and just see the visuals. That will give you an idea about the situation.
I don’t live in Kerala anymore. India has 29 states. I live in Hyderabad in Telangana state. My parents in Kerala left their house yesterday with just two bags – one with clothes and another documents. I would say they were among the fortunate ones as they managed to leave the house when the ground floor got inundated. Most people had to leave without anything but wet clothes they were wearing. And, that will haunt them in the coming days. In all probability, these poor souls will be asked to prove (with documents) that they are alive. Thanks to our red tape. Besides, my parents did not go to a relief camp. They went to my aunt’s house. Yet, it was a challenge for my 63-year-old mother and 70-year-old father to wade through the waist-deep water for about 20 minutes to reach the main road.
Finally, I want to add another caveat. Corruption is (reportedly) rampant in India. Kerala is comparatively better but not free from corruption. There is a chance that 10-15% (lower limit) of the total contributions (not individual) may go to line the pockets of the officials. That is a chance we Indians take when we contribute money. If you are also willing to take that chance for a larger cause, kindly contribute. It can go a long way in reducing the suffering of people. Thank you all for your patience.
Prof Wolff, you can decide not to publish this if you think it is not suitable for this platform. I felt I should do this as I did not want to regret for not doing it later. Thank you.