Friday, August 24, 2018

An unnecessary 'fake news'.

Over the last few days, news have been making the rounds that the government of UAE had promised Rs.700 crores in aid to the flood victims of Kerala and that the central government had refused it by saying that it was following what the previous central government did on a similar occasion. 

The implication was that India was capable of tiding over the crisis using its own resources!

Today, the UAE's Ambassador in India has confirmed that his country, while contemplating assistance for the flood devastated people of Kerala, no money has been offered. Thus the lie was out!

The Anatomy of the Lie.

  (a) The state's chief minister announced that the UAE government has agreed to give Rs.700
       crores to tide over its crisis brought about by the floods in a press conference on 21 Aug.
  (b) The central government, while confirming the assurance of flood relief from the UAE, did
        not say anything about the Rs.700 crores.
  (c) But close on the heels of this information, comes the news that India will not accept aid from
       foreign countries and cites an instance, when the previous Manmohan Singh government had
       refused aid saying that the country was capable of tiding over such calamities with its own
       resources. This was, however, not in consonance with the present government's thinking by
       virtue of its own report, on the subject, published in '14.
  (d) The Congress and the Communist parties ask the government to strike down the law so as to
        enable it to accept the aid.
  (e) Probably, the last straw on the proverbial camel's back was when Alphons Kannanthanam, a
       union minister and a Keralite, made a pitch for amending the law to facilitate the acceptance
       of aid.

Once it was confirmed as 'fake news', the chief minister, this evening, comes out with a bizarre explanation that the UAE-based Malayalee industrialist, MA Yusuf Ali had informed him about the aid and had given him the go ahead to announce the news in public! What bewilders me is as to when has a chief minister announced important policy news based on the advice of a private citizen when established diplomatic channels and protocols exist?

Deciphering the Lie.

    (a) It now transpires that the central government has so far granted Rs.60 crores(Promised by
         Kiren Rijiju, the minister of state for Home Affairs) plus Rs.100 crores(Promised by Rajnath
         Singh, the Home Minister) plus Rs.500 crores by the Prime Minister against the state's initial
         demand of Rs. 2,000 crores which was later estimated to Rs.8,000 crores and the final estimate
         is yet to be calculated. The PM had also said that he'd have the NHAI to rebuild the highways
         and the ministry for urban development build houses at the earliest. (But compensation in cash
         is preferred against compensation in kind!).
    (b) The existing procedures are very clear viz. the affected state puts up the estimate to the
         central government, which while granting an interim payment sends a team for assessing the
         extent of damage and finally arrives at the amount to be provided as assistance. So, the grant
         of Rs.660 crores, thus far, can be clearly factored as an interim payment!
    (c) Instead, by bandying an amount @ Rs.700 crores, was someone trying to show that a rank
         outsider - the UAE - had decided to pay more than what the central government has given?

 My take.

    (a) Why do I get the impression that the central government is being shown in bad light?
    (b) The authorities, in Kerala, are yet to give reasons for the poor management of the dam shutters
          that resulted in the massive flood that brought in damage and destruction. And don't those
          heads have to roll?
    (c) Why should the opening of the dams' shutters be a cabinet decision? What the hell are the
         professionals supposed to do? Sad!
    (d) And finally, who in the central government said about not accepting the aid citing the previous
          government's actions?


The Onam has begun and today is Uthraadom - the first Onam. Sadly, the usual enthusiasm is nowhere to be seen and Lekha and I have decided to have a quiet occasion to ourselves sans the usual pomp!

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