The tragic earthquake in Nepal has already involved all sorts of governments and organizations – ranging from humanitarians to opportunists. Damages done by the earthquake are irreparable, and given the economic and social condition of Nepal, it will need support and aid from multiple channels. Every penny will count.
Relief work is on, but sadly it has triggered many ugly debates, discussions and events around the motives of support, most of which developed on the political and religious overlaps. India being close to Nepal became an easy political ground to build narratives on role of Modi Government and selfless service.
When we highlighted how some of the Christian organizations tried to tap this tragedy as triumph and an opportunity to convince people to endorse Jesus, we were targeted as a Right Wing propaganda machine. Some of our readers questioned us with facts which talked about the poor attitude of the Indian Government, and asked us to comment of following facts published on media, forums and social media:
- Modi is extending support, but why are his fans boasting it if they call it a selfless support
- Indian Government is helping less, but bragging more
- Indian Government and Indian Embassy in Nepal are not helping at all
Before reading facts from both the perspectives, I contemplated on the concerns about selfless service. We all would agree with the fact that there are many overlapping areas between different forms of inter-relationships like Symbiosis, Mutualism, Commensalism and Parasitism. Exact classifications of mutual relationships into these definitions may need many subjective assumptions, which holds true even for the philosophy of selfless service. I checked social media accounts of many religious and social organizations which are ceaselessly helping people in Nepal to recover. Most of these selflessly helping people are sharing their good work on the social media, which, if put on the same framework of “selflessness” which is applied to the Modi Government, should raise questions like, if it is selfless, why do they need to share it.
Now coming back to the facts raised by our readers. Some people claimed other countries are helping Nepal more than India. Well, I am not an admirer of such comparisons, but some of the data circulated by people to prove their point looks very ridiculous.
One such chart shared by people talks about money committed by different countries and number of people deployed by them. The arguments built along this chart says that India is not among top contributors. Nepal’s Ambassador to India Deepak Kumar Upadhyay said there has been “unbelievable support and assistance” from India and the assurance of help from the Indian government has been like a “blank cheque.” Unless someone reads the chart to see that Switzerland is mentioned for deploying 6 people, but India is not, he or she must be very dumb or a politically inclined individual for sharing it with such a confidence. And as far as monetary help committed by many nations is concerned, the Finance Minister of Nepal said that they have received helicopters and relief material but no cash, despite promises from the Asian Development Bank and others.
The other concern raised was: Indian Government and Indian Embassy in Nepal are not helping at all
Social media picked a few stories of individuals who were not properly treated by the Indian Embassy in Nepal and declared that Indian Government is not helping at all, Indian Air Force deployed in Nepal are busy in photo shooting. Some of such stories which I read on the social media were:
Knowing the magnitude of destruction caused by the earthquake and the unavailability of resources, it is very much possible that some of the victims were neglected. However, it would be quite unfair to claim that the Indian Government is doing nothing. During the same time, the Indian embassy would also be recovering from the death of one of the employee’s daughter. Indian Government sent a supply of 10 tonnes of blankets, 50 tonnes of water, and 22 tonnes of food. Apart from that, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian Organizations from India are extending all possible support to the victims. More than 20,000 people from Nepal are rescued because to their combined efforts. Calling oneself Ashamed of being Indian will tarnish all the efforts put by these people. People helping in Nepal have also claimed that IAF planes are trying to help people.
— Vella By Chance!! (@VellaAtLarge) April 30, 2015
I have also read many stories in which rescued people have hugely praised the Indian Government and Indian Air Force. If the intention is to create narratives based on only one side of the story, I can understand the motives.
Modi was also criticized on 3rd May 2015 when Nepalese trended #GoHomeIndianMedia on twitter. The anger erupted when many individuals started complaining against the insensitiveness of Indian Media. The aggregated anger and annoyance erupted like a volcano on the social media. One of the blogs which got viral wrote:
There has been one viral news report going on where a reporter presented how people were fighting for food and one women got injured badly. Thanks to the reporter who had enough time to grab the victim and bring to the camera to show the victim hurt badly on her head. But how surprising, he did not have a minute to grab a piece of cloth to stop bleeding . That reporter did not have a minute to grab the wrist of that person who was beating others with helmet. There was of course a cameraman who does not want to miss a second so that a dramatic news could be presented. I think you are a human before you become a media person. As a responsible person, it was your duty to save someone.
The blog clearly mentioned: “This letter is not blaming India in any way, the writer is only sharing her emotion regarding what she saw on media. Every patriot will probably feel the same way if media broadcasts such things about their country.”
It was very clear that this anger is against the insensitive, irresponsible, and sensationalist reporting methods followed by the Indian Media, however, the whole narrative was twisted as an anti-Modi outrage. While angry tweets from Nepal talked about the Indian Media, Indian twitterati left no stone unturned to add Modi as the reason of anger. Cartoons and Op-Eds created by media and social media put all the blames on jingoism and nationalism.
Interestingly, when people started analyzing the geographical origin of this trend, it gave a very interesting result.
The chart hints how #GoHomeIndianMedia was hijacked by netizens of other countries. I tried to search #GoHomeIndianMedia and Modi together as keywords, and I found that most of the handles trending the combination of keywords were from India. Needless to say that most of the handles I saw were anti-modi faces.
What irks me that the whole concept of human welfare is twisted to political propaganda by some individuals and organizations to pursue their personal gain. Just because they want to stick to their Modi Hatred stand, they are slandering some good initiatives started by the Government. The sequence of headlines after the earthquake which started with “Why is Modi Boasting”, modified into “Dalit village wonders, if Modi Govt’s help will ever reach us”, and finally ended up as “Indian Government is not helping at all” tells a lot about the set of people behind these narratives.