Airlift During Natural Disasters: How Can More Lives be Saved?

Blame them on depletion of Ozone layer, global warming or some such phenomena––natural disasters have begun visiting us with the regularity of equinoxes and the solstices. The ongoing floods in Kerala (India) are an example of the fury unleashed by nature.

The armed forces in general––the Air Force in particular––are pressed into action to provide succour by airlifting men and material and evacuating the stranded population. The number of sorties flown despite inclement weather within the limited resources and the tonnage provide for impressive statistics. Selflessly rising to the occasion each time, the men in uniform save thousands of lives.

Thousands still die.

The question is: Ceteris paribus, can more lives be saved? Going by the Uttarakhand  experience (July 2013), the unequivocal answer would be, “YES.”

Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi, Issue Brief No. 19/ 2013 dated July 11, 2013 titled, “AIRLIFT DURING DISASTERS: THE UTTARAKHAND EXPERIENCE –– Can we Save More Lives?” explains, “How?

Link: http://capsindia.org/files/documents/ISSUE-BRIEF_74_AIRLIFT-DURING-DIASTERS-THE-UTTRAKHAND-EXPERIENCE_11-July-2013.pdf

 

Kids, Cricket and Carrots

Clan Chordia had gotten together in our Bhopal home. As always, fun and frolic ensued. Being together was always an occasion to celebrate. We, the brothers––three of whom were young grandparents––reminisced about our childhood. Having met after a long time, the children exchanged notes as we waited for the table to be laid for lunch.

Oblivious of what the grandparents, parents and uncles were occupied with; Aashi and Dhruv were playing cricket in the little corridor between the dining area and the entrance. My mind governed by my years in military uniform did not approve of their playing inside the house. There had to be some decorum.

I held back the impulse to exercise my authority to stop them. Instead, I tried to feel the pulse before deciding a course of action.

“Hello kids! Playing cricket!?” I broached the subject half-heartedly.

Dhruv: “Yes Dada, why don’t you join us; we need a fielder?”

Me: “But you should be playing cricket on the playground; not here in the house.”

Aashi: “Temperatures are soaring outside. We have been permitted to play indoors. We are playing defensively and carefully so that we do not damage things around.”

Me: “OK, so you are trying to get into the league of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Dhoni, ….” I changed the tone of my conversation. It was their home and their actions bore the formal seal of approval of their parents.

Aashi stumped me by his reply: “Dada, I don’t want to emulate any of those legends. I want to be a successful cricketer and be known for my own style.” I envied him for his clarity of thought. I didn’t have it when I was his age. Chhaya, my wife vouches I still don’t have it. Disregardful of my poor skills with the bat and the ball, I joined in. After all, at 56, I was nearly ten times their age and thought I could match them in performance. They thought otherwise.

Constricted space mandated slow under-arm bowling. Those little champions who had mastered indoor cricket started hitting my slow straight balls all over until I discovered that spinning the ball while bowling under-arm was easy, and effective too. I exploited the possibility and bowled both “OUT!” several times in quick succession. They were awestruck; couldn’t fathom a reason for the steep fall in their performance with the bat.

Then, it just happened…

I asked them, “Do you eat carrots and green vegetables?”

“No, we don’t like them,” they were spontaneous.

“Oh! I guess that’s why your eyes are weak; you are unable to spot the ball in time. Also, since you don’t eat vegetables, you don’t get the necessary vitamins and minerals. I am not surprised your reactions are rather slow and you are getting beaten repeatedly.” It was an off the cuff statement with no intention whatsoever to sermonise the kids.

I carried on pulverising their pride in their batting prowess. Aashi continued to get bowled while Dhruv took a break. He went missing for a while––a long while, indeed. Next, I heard Ruby, his mother, chastising him, “ What are you doing with the knife? You’ll hurt yourself. I’ll do that for you.”

OMG! Dhruv was trying to clean up and cut a carrot to eat. He sought immediate improvement in his eyesight and reflexes. Both Dhruv and Aashi returned to bat after eating some carrots. This time on, I was under obligation to demonstrate the benefits of eating carrot and green leafy vegetables to the two grandchildren. I did not spin the ball anymore. With improved sight and reflexes, Aashi and Dhruv regained form. Rather they displayed superior performance.

While Aashi and Dhruv, realised the importance of healthy eating, I carried a different lesson:

“There are times when the fear of notional loss from not doing a thing far exceeds the joy of apparent gains accrued from doing it. This vulnerability is exploitable.”