A look at how Kerala floods is being used as a plot to build upon the old and rotten Aryans vs Dravidians and North Indians Vs South Indians narrative.
Kerala is battling arguably the worst floods the state has witnessed in the last 100 years of its history. The floods have claimed around 350 lives till date and led to a massive property destruction estimated up to Rs. 8,000 crores. As a massive disaster relief work is underway in the state, some divisive elements having allegiance to the regionalist and communist forces have unfortunately taken up to the social media to further their divisive agenda.
Attempts are being made on Twitter and Facebook to portray a picture that the central government has abandoned the citizens of Kerala as they suffer from this ordeal.
The standard modus operandi of these forces is to take up an incident, twist certain facts around the incident to ensure that it fits into their larger grand narrative. This is precisely how the incident of Kerala floods is being used as a plot to build upon the old and rotten Aryans vs Dravidians and North Indians Vs South Indians narrative.
Here is a step by step guide as to how the communist and the regionalist forces through the classical use of “incident framing” further their divisive agenda.
Step 1 – Incident Framing
Attempts are being made on Twitter and Facebook to portray a picture that the central government has abandoned the citizens of Kerala as they suffer from this ordeal. Three main arguments that are being made against the central government /ruling party are,
1. That the central government has not yet declared the Kerala floods as the “National Disaster”
2. That the BJP ruled states have not donated to Kerala.
3. That the funds allocated to the state by the central government to date are insufficient.
It would be unfair to blame the central government of purposefully denying the funds to the Kerala government when it only followed the established procedure.
Before we get to step two let’s look at each of these arguments first,
First, a mere declaration of the “National disaster” is not going to help the citizens of Kerala any more than the financial aid being given till now and man force deployed by the Centre in the state. “National disaster” was not declared in 1999 when Orissa was hit by a cyclone or when the floods took place in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014. Mr Rahul Gandhi who recently demanded that Kerala floods be declared as a “National Disaster” conveniently forgets that it was his party who was in power at the time when the Uttarakhand floods took place. Close to 6000 people ended up dead as a result of these floods. The Centre at that point in time did not declare the incident as a “National Disaster”.
The reason lies in the National Disaster Management Act, 2005 which does not provide any guideline to declare the above-mentioned events under the category of “National Disaster”. The act was passed by the Congress-led UPA government as well. This is not to say that there should be no policy debate on the NDMA, Act itself. However, to blame the government of vindictiveness on this particular point exposes the malicious agenda of the accuser.
Second, a coordinated campaign was being carried out on Facebook and Twitter which portrayed “North-Indian”, “BJP” ruled states as being ignorant and indifferent to the plight of the citizens of Kerala. The propaganda was being run on the basis of a lie that none of the BJP ruled states have donated money to Kerala. On the contrary, BJP ruled states such as Maharashtra (20 crores), Gujarat (10 crores), Madhya Pradesh (10 crores), Himachal Pradesh (5 crores), Uttarakhand (5 crores) and Chhattisgarh (3 crores), have made handsome donations to the state.
Third, it was also argued that Rs. 500 crores given to the state for immediate spending is too less when compared to the demand of Rs 2000 crore made by the state government. However, as per the established procedure, the state government has to submit a detailed memorandum for any additional relief amount which then has to be sent to an Inter-Ministerial committee and so on. In the instant case, based on a preliminary memorandum submitted by Government of Kerala for the additional assistance of Rs. 831.10 crore, IMCT was constituted immediately on July 25, 2018. IMCT have visited flood/ landslides affected areas in the State from August 7-12, 2018. Thus the current allocation of 500 crores does not mean that there will be no fund allocation in future. One can argue on the merits of this procedure but it would be unfair to blame the central government of purposefully denying the funds to the Kerala government when it only followed the established procedure.
Additionally, the logistics support provided to the state includes 14 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Indian Air Force and Coast Guard helicopters, Army columns, Navy & Coast Guard personnel along with necessary rescue equipment’s.
Madhav Gadgil who headed the “western ghat report” has termed the crisis in Kerala a manmade crisis.
Step 2 – Using such incidents to further build upon the “Grand Narrative”
The communist and the regionalist forces have a pre-existing grand narrative which characterizes RSS and BJP as a “Savarna”, “Anti-Dravidian” party which only cares about the interest of the “Hindi-heartland”. All these labels associated to BJP can be debated separately but the point that I am trying to make is how the incident framing of the Kerala floods was done in such a manner that it fits right into the grand narrative of the communist and regionalist forces.
Another example is the blatant generalization of the statements made by a few fringe elements who urged the central government – not to send any help to Kerala. As far as such statements are concerned they deserve the severest criticism. Having said that, only someone with a wicked mentality or an ulterior motive will draw links between these isolated statements and the ideology of the RSS/BJP or the mentality of all the North-Indians.
Real issues stay neglected
This is how the incidents of floods, earthquakes or any other mishap get politicized. The ruling party in the state of Kerala is busy playing number games with the central government and politicizing the incident of the flood at a time when they should answer upon who brought about the current situation in the first place. Madhav Gadgil who headed the “western ghat report” has termed the crisis in Kerala a manmade crisis. It is a fact that Kerala government rejected the recommendations of the Gadgil committee as it apparently threatened their Christian vote bank. That is also one reason as to why the communist and regional forces have taken up social media to spread hatred towards the ruling party at the Centre so that the real questions take a backseat in the backdrop of their “Grand Narrative”
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.