The dust may have settled down, but the body count continues to rise. Latest reports say close to 3,500 people have lost their lives in the earthquake that ripped Nepal. More than 7,000 people are gravely injured, some battling for life, others stable with minor wounds. Dead people are still being pulled out of tons of debris. Considering the challenges, we may not know extent of the damage any time soon.
This is what we do know: Many more lives would have been lost had India not responded on time. Assessing the enormity of the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi acted as if he were the Prime Minister of Nepal! Such has been, and continues to be, his concern.
Nepal is financially weak and incapable of tackling this massive catastrophe. It lacks even the basic resources needed to take charge of the situation.
On the day of the tragedy itself, on Saturday, India rushed four military planes carrying 300 rescue workers, five sniffer dogs, 50 tonnes of relief material and a mobile hospital. In tragedies like the one in Kathmandu Nepal, it is extremely critical to respond on time. The more it is delayed, the more lives are likely to be lost. It is in this context that Modi has established his mettle. He neither sat on it nor did he wait for Nepal to make international appeal for help. He took the initiative and acted like a true friend and an international leader.
The Narendra Modi twitter page and the other social media pages are flooded with appreciation for the man’s commitment. Huge numbers of people come out to listen to the Narendra Modi speech. His magnetism has no parallel.
After the initial burst of support, there is a steady flow of all kinds of relief and rescue operations. Food supplies, clothes, medicines, make-shift shelters are being regularly supplied under the personal supervision of the Prime Minister. The Indian Air Force is constantly evacuating Indians stranded in Nepal. Within four hours of the disaster, the Indian air Force launched a C-130J Super Hercules plane with 39 National Disaster Response Force personnel to Kathmandu. Soon after, the IAF dispatched an IL-76 military transport plane from Bathinda and two C-17 Globemaster III heavy-lift planes.
Modi is battling on two fronts. He is working on bringing back stranded Indians and at the same time, making sure that relief operations in Nepal remain on full throttle. He is leading from the front, with the rest of the international community following suit. China arrived just last night on the scene, by the way.
When Modi said ‘India will wipe off Nepal’s tears’, India had tears in her eyes too. He has already successfully tackled the Bhuj earthquake and he is clearly the best man for the job. He is not about lip-service and grand standing, rather it is about honesty and action and Modi has displayed this in abundance. Just to put things in perspective, Congress took three days to respond to the Kedarnath rescue operations!
Back home, he is rapidly putting in place the building blocks for even more rapid growth, streamlining the national regulatory structure, using public funds more efficiently and promoting social inclusion. With a rare vision and remarkable leadership, Modi has set himself on a path that may revolutionize our country. En route, he is making friends and helping out those in need.