Friday, July 24, 2020

Assam Floods 2020: What no one is talking about

This article is by

Share this article

People relocating during Assam Floods | Source: BMN Network via Flickr

With the COVID-19 pandemic under limelight this year, many other devastating incidents are sadly being pushed under the carpet. The raging floods in Assam, a North-Eastern province of India, is one of the scenarios not receiving much attention.

The flooding of third longest river of the world, Brahmaputra and its tributaries have claimed more than 75 human lives and affected a population of over 300 thousand. This is a lot more than the number of people affected due to COVID-19 in India.

As per the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), 26 of 33 districts across the state are badly affected. Roughly 85% of Kaziranga National Park, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and a home to the rare one-horned rhinoceros, is submerged under water, killing as many as 100 animals including nine rhinos. Hundreds of other animals are fleeing the inundated forests and seeking refuge in the nearby villages.

Landslides triggered due to floods have resulted in approximately 25 deaths. Additionally, the fire which broke out at a gas well of Oil India Limited (OIL) in the Tinsukia district of eastern Assam displaced many people from their houses, destroyed tea gardens and polluted Maguri-Motapung Beel, a nearby water body. The fire was so severe that even a month was not enough to extinguish it completely.

However, the state government is doing their best in turning schools and similar places into relief camps and distributing necessities like food, masks and sanitizers to the displaced. Nearly 125 animals have been rescued.  “We have 40 teams of the State Disaster Response Force in the worst-hit areas and the army also is on standby,” says M.S. Mannivanan, head of ASDMA, as of July 16, 2020. Almost 50,000 people are seeking refuge in more than 600 relief camps.

PM Modi finally spoke to Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister of Assam on July 19 and enquired about the floods and the fire which broke out at OIL. He assured his full support as well. The United Nations has also lent a helping hand, stating that it is ready to support the Indian Government, if need be.

Keeping the current pandemic in mind and adhering to the guidelines of social distancing, more areas have been converted into relief camps. Usually, a space of 3.5sq m is allocated to every individual. Whereas now, due to the current circumstances, every person gets double the area. Strict rules are also being followed to ensure safety and hygiene. Fortunately, there are no reported cases from these camps, as of July 19, 2020.

Along with relief camps, many distribution centres have also been set up across 21 districts of Assam. The authorities have distributed about 7 lakh kilograms of staple food items like rice, dal and salt along with roughly 11,000 litres of mustard oil and other required goods, as of July 13, 2020.

The devastating floods which is a recurring phenomenon in Assam indicates that extreme events are now more likely to occur as our weather patterns continue to deteriorate due to climate change. These incidents are merely showcasing the power nature which is unleashed from time to time as a warning to the humankind.

Support us to bring the world closer

To keep our content accessible we don't charge anything from our readers and rely on donations to continue working. Your support is critical in keeping Global Views 360 independent and helps us to present a well-rounded world view on different international issues for you. Every contribution, however big or small, is valuable for us to keep on delivering in future as well.

Support Us

Share this article

Read More

October 23, 2020 3:57 PM

Male gaze, their female guardians and sports-wear

In Helen Cixous’ essay, ‘The Laugh of Medusa’, she urges women to redefine what their body means to them, not just physically but also socially, emotionally and politically. This could happen by re-writing about your body in a way you deem  fit, the expression you identify with and separating it from how your body has been written about by men. The expression could be how you view your body separate from the patriarchal lense.

It is no secret that a woman’s body is subject to critique. While clothing for men is just a tool to cover themselves as per the surrounding environment, clothing for women isa social and political narrative that dictates their life or as we affectionately call it ‘culturally appropriate’.

The clothing style could vary. It could be a woman covered head to toe in a Burqa, it could be a woman who decides to wear sports-wear in a park or it could be jeans and a top. Everything is critically evaluated by men and by women who work towards protecting the male gaze.

The male gaze is a heterosexual way of looking at female bodies that sexualises these bodies into an object. It is a gaze that runs on the self-affirmative notion that the bodies of women, and what they do with it, is directly linked to how they  appear in front of a man.

In a recent incident in Bangalore, India, popular Indian actress Samyuktha Hegde was abused and threatened by senior political leader of the congress party, Kavitha Reddy,  for wearing sports-wear, in Bangalore’s Agara Lake park. She was exercising with her friend.

Kavitha Reddy initially claimed she was in indecent attire and went onto morally police and then later abused the actress and her friend.  A supposedly progressive political leader gets uncomfortable by what women are wearing. It breaks into an argument and a fight where the politician is supported by five to six men. Later on, the police appear to be appeasing the politician instead of the women who were harassed. Although she did apologise, her apology came after her video went viral, and as a protection for her own political reputation.

To look at Samyuktha Hegde’s clothing as a threat is to view her clothing as an act of obscenity therefore bullying her identity and sense of agency and reducing her to sexual object, who, by putting her in public, apparently gives the men present a right to look at her? Nevermind that she was there to workout like everyone else, her actions were confused as to how men look at her. In the video posted by the actress, the politician is surrounded by men who are championing her on. The politician choses to side with the patriarchal figures in shaming these women. Asking to protect from the male gaze is a far stretch but punishing women for the male gaze is where we should draw a line.

What roles does Kavitha Reddy play? She is the guardian of the male gaze. We find her in our mothers, in our grandmothers, in aunties and sometimes our friends. She understands a woman’s body as an object that is there to be looked at by men. She gets angry at women for wearing certain kinds of clothing but she is not angry at men for looking. The agency in this case always belongs to men.

When Cixous asks women to re-define their identity, she urges us to strangle the moral police that comes alive in such instances. It is the moral police that shames women for wearing clothes that don’t flatter their bodies or clothes that do flatter them. She urges us to reflect upon the source of such vigilance. Do we shame other women because we believe in what we are saying or our identity is partially (or  wholly) shaped by the male gaze?

Whether we chose to wear a burqa, or a dress, or variations of the new type clothing produced everyday, the crux of the matter is that it should not worry anyone apart from the one wearing it. The identity of a woman, sexual or otherwise, has to be redefined to be separated from the men and their gaze. We have to draw a line otherwise people in power will continue to abuse their power and preserve patriarchy and male gaze.

Read More