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#TeamTorreira @sidin
, 20 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Friends, through the last few days I have tried to spread the word on donations without specifically responding to any of the political points or quite blatant falsehoods that have sadly become part of any social media mobilization.
For a number of reasons. 1. The victims need help. And I don't care where it comes from. 2. The entire point of such falsehoods is to mire good people in the pointless act of fact-checking bullshit 3. Loyalty-signalling + performative platforms = people become assholes.
However, there is a clip making the rounds that I think needs a response. Because even well-meaning people find WhatsApp irresistible. I will respond to three points: 1. Largely rich people affected 2. Donations will not go to the poor 3. Kerala needs services instead. Responses:
1. Floods don't go around with census data targetting the rich. Wayanad, one of the first and worst affected districts is desperately poor. One of two Kerala districts drawing support from the Backward Regions Grant Fund along with Palakkad. Citation: panchayat.gov.in/documents/1019…
Not to forget some basic things: Floods make many rich poor, and many poor destitute. Economies don't stand still during floods. Secondly, the rebuilding will take years. Merely compare estimates of damage to estimates of state spending...
...Damages are estimated at anywhere from 15-50000 Crores. Kerala's TOTAL budgeted expenditure this year for infra was 11,000 Crores. And the state's total state tax receipts are estimated at one lakh crore. (Citation: prsindia.org/uploads/media/…)
So unless the assumption is that Kerala will just spend on NOTHING but rehabilitation for the next few years, funding support in any form is inevitable. And finally, the Chief Minister himself asked for donations. Into a fund. That I am reliably informed can be RTI'd...
Asking the world to donate, repeatedly, is not something a chief minister does lightly. Now if you'd rather trust anonymous voice on WhatsApp, then there is nothing I can do to change your mind.
Thus the floods are horrible. The poorest districts have suffered devastating damage. The state is looking at years of rebuilding work. Yes there are many wealthy people. But floods affect both stock and flow of cash. Donations help. They are vital.
2. 'Donations will not go to the poor'. There is a kernel of truth in this. Simply because the poor will take longer to get back to their feet and access these funds in any form. This is not a bug, but a feature of society. However...
What might give you some succour is that Kerala has one of the least leakiest of all PDS systems in India. (Some details: ideasforindia.in/topics/governa…). Thus it is not unfathomable that some of these techniques will be used when it comes to relief routing.
Again this is not to say that there will be no leakage. Or some rich will not game the system. They will. (Already we know state is working to control price gouging.) Again you are entirely free to assume the donations will be captured by the rich. The choice is yours.
3. 'That we need services, plumbers, drivers, more than goods, donations'. This an important point. But not universally so. As with every calamity in India or elsewhere, relief goods are often stuck, and much will perish, waiting for transport...
In other cases, goods will reach, ironically, less impacted areas in greater numbers than elsewhere. So it is entirely possible there are huge stocks of food. In fact the CM has already said govt warehouses were full ahead of Onam...
There is also the fact that there is food and there is food. Rusks and bread you can eat now. Out of the bag. In relief camp. Rice needs cooking. Milk powder needs clean water. Context matters...
Thus it really is down to coordinating agencies to figure out what they want and where to send it to. (Once again: why cash is always a good thing to donate.) I can tell with you 100% certainty that this will be terribly hard to do. Because that is in the nature of such events.
But there is little doubt that manpower will soon become a problem. Already there are reports of full trucks and no drivers. People going back to houses but not finding help to clean and disinfect. Problem will worsen as the waters recede and Kerala falls out of news...
But right now, as far as I know, things are complex. Some people need plumbers. Some people need bread. And often the plumbers are where they want bread and vice versa...
So to summarize: This is not some scam by the Malayali rich to leech donations. I assure you there are poor people thronging relief camps all over the state. Donations do get leaked out. Choose route and donate wisely, whether cash or goods...
But most importantly, let us treat fellow citizens, who need relief, in good faith and with fair judgment. Don't let a WhatsApp forward destroy your conscience. Kerala needs help. Do what you can friends.
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