Monday, August 18, 2003
SOCIAL DISTRESS : Communication Breakdown
As the lights went out across N-E USA and Canada, people were plunged into darkness. This meant that systems were paralyzed, road transport was at a standstill, the metro transport trains stranded and people slept on the stairs of the City Hall. In the aftermath of it all, I have just two comments to make on the incident -
One, is how the USA has been so driven by fear that a power outage is interpreted as an impending terror attack. I'm not sure whether the fear is valid (to some measure it is), but the people are now driven by fear of attacks (a weapon used well by political parties) and hence the will do anything to protect themselves. Yet, as a people, there wasn't significant panic after the power outage. In fact, people behaved in such an orderly manner and with such respect for law and order that it raises their esteem in my eyes.
The other observation was made by a few Indian comments that I heard in the news and from colleagues at work - The trigger was the fact that the US don't have any backup for such large scale emergencies and that in India it wouldn't have created such a furore and the fact that their politicians had to go on air to calm the populace. The comment in question being, that such a thing would never have happened in India. Our politicians wouldn't go on air to assure the people. Our people wouldn't demand accountability of the responsible bodies. Our people would just go on with the "Chalta hai, hota hai" attitute and get on with our lives.
We've got a long way to go.
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