Nepal quake gets India, Pakistan leaders talking: Need for SAARC solidarity

It takes a colossal tragedy like the 7.9 Richter earthquake in Nepal to get the leaders of India and Pakistan talking. And that’s not something to be cynical about. On the contrary, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s telephone call to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi should be welcomed not just because the Pakistani leader lauded India’s exemplary relief efforts in the Himalayan state, but the conversation underlines the need for regional solidarity in the face of cataclysmic events like the Nepal quake.
The Nepal tragedy is also the testing time for SAARC to shed its unenviable reputation as a talk shop and show some real initiative in healing the wounds of a member country. To begin with, the SAARC Disaster Management Mechanism should be strengthened. Secondly, SAARC Food Bank should be activated to provide immediate succour to thousands of hungry people who could starve to death if they are not fed urgently. It’s time for SAARC to show its relevance in testing times like the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake.

Read More

Quake ravages Nepal’s iconic monuments, tourism economy crumbles

The April 25 earthquake and 50 aftershocks have not only devastated Nepal, but has also crumbled its cultural heritage, dealing a blow to the country’s tourism-centric economy.

Centuries-old structures lie in ruins, with many of them severely damaged. Social, religious and urban focal points of Kathmandu, the three Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan, that housed several ancient temples, palaces and structures of historical note, were described as “almost fully destroyed”.

The iconic Dharahara tower, that stood tall for nearly two centuries, was reduced to a stump.

The extent and degree of loss was acknowledged by Irina Bokova, the director general of the UNESCO, when she said, “I am deeply aggrieved by the magnitude of human loss caused by the earthquake in Nepal.”, “I am also shocked by its devastating impact on the unique cultural heritage in the country, in particular extensive and irreversible damage at the World Heritage site of Kathmandu Valley.” The UNESCO has promptly sent a team to Nepal to assess the damage.

The loss of centuries-old temples, palaces and monuments is more than a symbolic loss of a slice of living history for Nepal and the world. The tourism industry is the worse for it; the disaster’s ripple effects on tourism, a pillar of the city’s (and nation’s) economy, will hit the local communities, who relied on tourism in these areas, the hardest.

Read More

Nepal quake: India goes all out to help and heal quake-struck neighbour

In the unfolding aftermath of the April 25 earthquake, the worst to hit Nepal in 80 years and one of the worst in all of South Asia, India has left no stone unturned to come to the rescue of its Himalayan neighbour and strategic partner.
India was the first nation to respond, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi convening a disaster response meeting in within hours of the quake.
“Nepal’s pain is our pain,” said Modi, “I have spoken to their prime minister and president and assured them that this country of 125 crore is with you.” keeping up the spirit of cooperation that was rekindled during Prime Minister Modi’s historic visit to Nepal in August last year.
Mr Modi has already spoken with about a dozen state chief ministers immediately after the earthquake.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament on April 27 that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “knew of the incident before me and took swift action.” “Just five minutes before the earthquake, I was with the PM. He later called me about the earthquake and said there would be a meeting at 3 pm. The quick response that should have been shown by me as home minister was shown by the PM,” Mr Singh said in a statement in the Lok Sabha on the disaster that has killed over 3,700.
Distressing times are indeed true tests of friendship. And India is more than ready to do its best as the countries are intimately bound up with fraternal and cultural ties and their joys and sorrows interlinked.

Read More

Nepal quake: Death toll exceeds 3218, India steps up rescue efforts

The most devastating earthquake to hit Nepal in 81 years has unleashed an unending trail of death, destruction and trauma, with the death toll climbing up to over 3,218 and more than 6,500 people injured.
On April 26 afternoon, another powerful tremor measuring 6.7 magnitude, according to US Geological Survey (USGS), rocked Nepal, leaving its quake-residents reeling and without respite from continuing aftershocks of varying intensity.
The Nepalese government has declared emergency in affected areas and announced a relief package of Rs 500 million. The Himalayan country has also appealed to India and China as well as other governments for help in relief and rehabilitation.
India has been prompt to respond within minutes of the quake and has firmed up a multi-pronged rescue operation to help the fraternal neighbouring country, also home to a large Indian diaspora.
A C17 aircraft, sent by India, with 225 Indians on board, touched down in New Delhi from Kathmandu.
“Our immediate focus is on rescue and relief. We are also examining land route for evacuating of Indians,” India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar told reporters in New Delhi on April 26.

Read More