Postplatform : Life in the aftermath

Sep 2, 2014-

As a layman, I have a common understanding that the state exists for the welfare of the people. But a question might arise: Does it really? The collective answer might be “no” as shown by the state of the victims of the recent floods and landslides. After listening to FM stations and reading the local and national newspapers, I have been moved to write these thoughts. The issue of security of the flood affected people is losing space in the national consciousness. In Banke, people have filed a petition in court against a number of government bodies. I think this is a big step for the subaltern since they have also done such acts and brought massive change.

As a student of English literature, I remember the theory of subaltern which supports issues concerning people of low status whenever people undergo suffering. This is a bottom-up approach that can be suitable during times of crisis. I am not advocating violence, but the common understanding of the common people should raise a collective voice when the state is slow in providing relief and protection. The state should focus on the chronic poor, transient poor and vulnerable groups when distributing relief because it will lead to sustainable development of the affected people

Taking the reference of Asian countries, Bangladesh can be presented as an example. In response to the devastating floods of 1998, the Bangladesh government had used two approaches, namely Gratuitous Relief (GR) programmes and Vulnerable Groups Feeding (VGF) for mitigating the crisis. The GR food assistance went mainly to flood-exposed households while VGF transfers were targeted at the poor. The government should come up with a promotion and protection approach to deal with flood victims. Equal distribution really works during times of crisis, but after that, what will the affected people do? Will they rebuild their houses and sustain themselves in the same manner as in the past? Are they able to collect monetary values? There are lots of questions that need to be answered by the government, but how?

In order to do this, the government should adopt a sustainable social security strategy where the chronic poor, transient poor and vulnerable groups can support themselves on an equal level with dignity in society. The chronic poor people will not be able to support themselves when they are given the same amount of relief since they are deep-rooted in poverty. To uplift their status, the government should create an inclusive policy when they suffer from this type of disaster. The transient poor are temporarily poor people, and they can be uplifted with a little effort of the government and their own endeavours. With regard to vulnerable groups, the government should provide them special assistance which will give them lifelong sustainability. If the issue of disaster relief is resolved in this manner, common understanding will say that the government really is for the welfare of the people.

- SURAJ SHARMA

Published: 03-09-2014 09:11

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