Thursday, September 08, 2005


Just adding on...

Alok... this if for you ...

I rcvd following in a fwd mail ...

inches of rain in new orleans due to hurricane katrina... 18
inches of rain in mumbai (July 27th).... 37.1

population of new orleans... 484,674
population of mumbai.... 12,622,500

deaths in new orleans within 48 hours of katrina...100
deaths in mumbai within 48hours of rain.. 37.

number of people to be evacuated in new orleans... entire city..wohh
number of people evacuated in mumbai...10,000

Cases of shooting and violence in new orleans...Countless
Cases of shooting and violence in mumbai.. NONE

Time taken for US army to reach new orleans... 48hours
Time taken for Indian army and navy to reach mumbai...12hours

status 48hours orleans is still waiting for relief, armyand electricty
status 48hours later..mumbai is back on its feet and is business is asusual's most developed nation

I don't know how far this is factual, but even if the above situation is being exaggerated, what about the Disaster Recovery Management - US keeps chanting about... I know hurricane is lot more than torrential rains that happened in Mumbai, but what about the cyclones in Gujarat and Eastern Coast! Moreover, in India, in case of such calamities, locals move in to offer help as much as they can ... rather than start a loot. Irony is US is being offered help from countries it doesn't have diplomatic relations with... in the name of humanity!

It's simply that US has acquired a habit of howling "wolf... wolf..." when there is none... it has been a bit too busy in trying to take control over world instead its own people!

Hmmm... interesting comparison. But it is apples to oranges, it would seem. The fwd mail assumes that quantity of rainfall is an accurate measure of how big the disaster was. There are other factors to take into consideration.

Katrina's wind speed measured by a US Air Force reconnaissance aircraft = 140 mph
Barometric pressure = 27.11 inches. This puts it into the category of the worst hurricanes on record.

Wind speed in Mumbai? I don't think there was any wind worth measuring, as far I heard it was mostly rain.

The "37 deaths in 48 hours in Mumbai" metric seems to be flawed. The headline was reported by rediff on August 11th and it was due to fever and not due to rain. On July 27th itself (the first day of rains), officials announced 25 dead. July 28th was 200 dead. July 29th was 696 for Maharashtra (400 for Mumbai). I would expect unofficial numbers to be higher.

New Orleans is at a mean altitude of 6 feet BELOW sea level. Much of the damage caused seems to be because of flooding due to the levees breaking, not because of rain.

New Orleans is bowl shaped, so any water coming in doesn't drain out by itself.Two days after the rains in Mumbai, flood waters were receding. New Orleans is still flooded, and while levees have been repaired, the water has to be pumped out.

Number of people to be evacuated only indicates what the authorities thought of the impending situation - in Mumbai nobody had an idea that the rains would be so bad, in New Orleans they had some clue (from the satellite imagery perhaps). I can twist this the other way around too:

no. of people that SHOULD have been evacuated in Mumbai: 12,622,500

no. of people that actually were evacuated: 10,000

As far as the locals helping goes, you should read up on the tens of thousands of evacuees that are being resettled in various states in the US and the kind of response they are getting from the residents of those states.

These were two different tragedies and they had different responses from the authorities. There were mistakes made by the Americans, but that does not in any way imply India's superiority. I find this to be equivalent to saying: "So what if the Americans went to the moon? They have had 2 shuttle explosions and we were the ones who invented the zero in the first place."

Enough said here. I think I should elaborate more on what I feel on my own blog.
Very interesting discussion here. I am not one to compare natural disasters though. The numbers make a pretty interesting read.
katrina brought to light the flimsy managerial skills of the american bureaucrats.

mumbai was totally different though.

IF such a cyclone was to hit a city in India, chances r tht not much difference would b thre, when cmprd to new orleans.

but the u s is always in the spot light and their mistakes get more publicised.
u talking abt katrina kaif?
At the outset, I feel that the whole business of comparing tragedies is vulgar - for the simple reason that a large number of people died in circumstances beyond their control and it JUST DOESN'T MATTER whether they were Indian or American.

Second, I have little or no respect for the person who intiated this forward. He/She is extremely narrow-minded. Some Indians have this habit of having a "false sense of superiority" to cover up their own short-comings. You look at one small incident to proclaim "We are superior" , please , please, pretty please look at the bigger picture.

That said, I think I can explain why Katrina was such badly managed. One reason is the "wolf, wolf" syndrome that you have written about. The other reason is that in any natural disaster, the best "disaster management system" is the local people. Indians have never expected any government agency to do anything for them, the poor have faced hardships all their lives and they know that ultimately they have to take care of themselves. In the US, I feel people are a lot more dependant on the government. A poor person doesnt go hungry, he just eats off Social Security. Thus when the government response gets delayed, he doesn't know what to do. COnfused, he resorts to looting.

Are their any buyers for this argument ?
maybe we are vetarans at handling crisis, for it's pretty common in our country... while in the united states- crisis is sort of a long forgotten experience...
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