The UAE Government has reportedly assured the Kerala Government that it would provide Rs 700 cr assistance to state to deal with the after math of the devastating floods that has crippled the economy. This comes soon after the Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani granted Rs 35 cr in assistance for flood relief.
Now many people have started comparing the interim assistance of Rs 600 cr assured by the Union Government after the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Tourism Minister Alphons Kannanthanam.However, I don’t want to use this platform in any way to belittle the contributions of the Union Government in providing relief for the flood affected although there may be arguments that the financial help extended may be meagre at this point of time. The armed forces and the ministries especially Home, Civil Aviation, Health, Food Processing Ministries have provided good support to Kerala. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is hopeful of further assistance from the Centre as preliminary assessment is Rs 20,000 cr worth of damages.
Kerala has a long history of relationship with UAE and the Gulf region. It was the sweat and toil of the Malayalees that contributed to the economic growth and development of UAE and the entire Gulf region. With limited avenues for industrial growth, Kerala continues to be very much dependent on money transfers from hardworking Malayalees and aptly called ‘money order’ economy. The NRI deposits to Kerala increased 12% in 2016-17 to Rs 1,52,348 cr while total NRI deposits in public sector banks was Rs 83,855 cr and Rs 688,493 cr in private sector banks. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has expressed “deep gratitude to HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his concern, generosity and large heart. People of Kerala will not forget this kind gesture shown in our time of need.”
On the other hand, Kerala has several times in the past alleged that they have not received due support from the Union Government in terms of setting up industrial projects in the State. The state was often denied sufficient funds for the development of railway network and allocation of new trains.
Even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kerala and announced assistance HH Sheik Mohmammed, Prime Minister of UAE tweeted that ‘the State of Kerala in India is currently witnessing huge floods, the most devastating in a century. Hundreds have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Ahead of Eid Al Adha, do not forget to extend a helping hand to our brothers in India.”
There has been amazing support from across the globe. Even the Pakistan Association Dubai is doing fund raising to send relief goods to Kerala. Their tweet said : Pakistani communiity in Dubai fundraising to send relief goods to Kerala Flood survivors. Humanity beyond borders!” Indian Amabassador to UAE Navdeep Suri said in his tweet it was great to see leading UAE-based NRIs respond positively to the disastrous floods in Kerala.
Even the national channels were accused of ignorning what can be called a national disaster because of the lack of proximity of the southern state from Delhi. It was only after BBC and New York Times gave prominence to the catostrophe, national channels started taking it seriously.There again Gulf media seems to have done a better job because they have a huge readership in the expat Indian community. On the other hand local channels, newspapers and social media did a wonderful job of keeping the world informed of the catostrophe and the massive relief operations underway.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi chose not to visit flood hit Kerala at this point of time because the security arrangements may hamper the relief work and has postponed it to a later date. He has also urged all the Congress MPs and MLAs to donate their one month salary to flood relief. It shows lot of maturity and pragmatism on his part despite all the ridicule that has been heaped on him from time to time. Some people felt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kerala when the relief operations were in full swing only delayed rescue operations in some places at least for a day.