Bangalore, June 24: It is a usual day in a Masjid in Bhopal as thousands bow in silent prayer, but their prayers are unusual. One can see a familiar scene in temples, gurudwaras and churches too, as India unites in praying for the dead and the distressed in the Uttarakhand flash floods.
Since the natural disaster, things have changed a lot across the country. People do not think about just themselves or their families, but have learnt to think about others too. In fact, some wonder how lucky they are to be alive and close to their near and dear ones, and some think of what the pilgrims are going through.
"It gives me jitters to think what could have happened to me had I not cancelled my trip to the Chaar Dham. I had an important meeting and therefore had to cancel my trip," says Jagdish M, a software engineer from Bangalore.
However, it is not just folding hands rising in prayer this time, but hands that extend for help too. It reminds me of the Kargil War of 1999 when schools, colleges, corporates and even NGOs donated food, money and clothing, blankets for the martyrs and their families who had laid down their lives for the nation.
While people do their bit in donating generously, various state governments too have come forward to help Uttarakhand revive. In fact, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Orissa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi, and Chattisgarh have extended financial help to the Prime Minister's relief fund.
Post the PM's appeal to help the victims, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi assured his Uttarakhand counterpart Vijay Bahuguna with a rescue team to speed up the rescue efforts and also offered a financial assistance of RS 2 crore towards disaster management and resurrection.
UP has donated Rs. 25 crore, Bihar Rs. 5 crore, Haryana Rs 10 crore, Madhya Pradesh Rs. 5 crore, Karnataka Rs. fi5ve crore., Maharashtra Rs 10 crore, Delhi Rs 10 crore, Orissa and Chattisgarh Rs 5 crore each.
Many of the state governments like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and Orissa have also sent special teams to set up help centres to track the pilgrims from their state. They have arranged for state-owned helicopters to bring the victims back.
Corporates too are doing their bit to contribute to the relief work. Mahindra and Mahindra has contributed about Rs 1 crore toward the relief work. "We are shocked and grieved to learn of the unprecedented calamity and havoc created in Uttarakhand in the wake of the recent flash floods," Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said.
"I cannot imagine that I would not be able to visit the Chaar Dham in the next three years. I have seen the recent pictures of the death and the devastation that has engulfed the area. Nothing remains now. I would do anything to get Kedarnath back to life, leave alone foregoing one day's salary," said Snigdha, a corporate employee. This is the mood in both the Government and the private sectors where employees are not hesitant to give whatever they have, just to get the place fixed.
The Indian Asociation of TOur Operators has appealed to all its agencies to help people stranded in Uttarakhand and donate as much as possible. It has further appealed to jelp the resue agencies by tracking those dead and bringing back those who are alive. "Kindly contribute graciously with whatever amount you can for this cause and help the government for rehabilitation work for the local people and also the pilgrims," said Subhash Goyal, the president of IATO.
While help poured in from all the quarters of the country, including the Supreme Court, the government employees, and the railway ministry, there is one special section that too has extended hands of help.
This lesson on life's frugality and the death-play by nature has transformed many, including the inmates of Tihar jail. A section of the inmates, along with the jail staff have decided to donate Rs 13 lakhs for the flood victims.
"One can observe a significant change in the attitudes of the inmates here. These people are hard core criminals and now they are concerned about others. They have already collected Rs 5 lakh together," said law officer Sunil Gupta. He further added that the staff would be contributing a day's salary toward the same.
"Little drops make the mighty ocean"-it truely takes a great deal of patience and love to fill up that ocean of faith, trust and brotherhood. Uttarakhand, we stand by you and your ups and downs. You will rise and shine again.
And my appeal to the readers-we have been united all these years and that has reflected in the way we have stood by our brothers and sisters in their time of need. Stand by them even now and add a few more drops to the Prime Minister's relief fund.