Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sichuan tragedy- an opportunity and a lesson
All admiration for the Chinese leadership for the quake relief efforts. Newspapers were for fulsome praise the way China responded to the calamity. Premier Wen Jiabao came out as humanitarian mascot of the Communist regime which masterminded the Tiananmen Square (remember on this day of June in 1989 brutal crackdown on students and democracy seekers at the Tiananmen Square). Most recently, the Tibet debacle made the mandarins at Beijing restless in the run up to the Olympics. So, the earthquake in Sichuan opened a window to the China for the world.

The devastating earthquake in Sichuan turned most tragic as death-toll may touch 100,000. The world has not yet recuperated from the Myanmar’s enormous tragedy and soon after Sichuan quake happened. This tragedy came as an opportunity for China to show the world that it cares and especially after the Tibet fiasco where it has been written down. China didn’t want any kind of botheration in the run up to the Olympics.

China through its rescue and relief works in quake area has shown the globe at large how to respond in time when chips are down. A lesson for the Myanmar where one month on an estimated 2.4m people remain homeless and hungry following the cyclone, which struck on May 02. The country like India where disaster management is still in the nascent stage this experience should be worth emulating.

A large section of society have been basking in the new-found prosperity which China brought with its manufacturing wonders and at the same time the rise of have-nots in society raised some tough questions. China can ill-afford to deny the opportunity to its people who are more informed and born into era of internet.

“A fast-growing middle class with money to spare on travel and, as it now seems, on charity, did not wait for official encouragement to help out in Sichuan. Thousands of volunteers headed to the disaster zone, from businessmen to Christian youth. Their cars, some bedecked with flags and slogans, ply the expressway between Chengdu and Jiangyou,” writes the Economist.

After some initial hiccups China quickly estimated the implications and became ready to accept the foreign aid. Donations from home and abroad had reached around $6.1 billion so far. According to the Time magazine “Few doubted Wen’s sincerity or sympathy for the victims. He has long been the humane face of the country’s Communist Party. But there was also little doubt that Wen was acutely aware that the survival of the regime may depend on its handling of crises. Having discarded its Marxist-Leninist ideology, the government is increasingly reliant on public approval for its legitimacy.”

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