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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 37 New Delhi September 1, 2018

In the Midst of Kerala’s Flood Fury

Sunday 2 September 2018, by Humra Quraishi

MUSINGS

Shots of the flood fury raging in Kerala are enough to jolt if not leave a lasting impact on the very psyche. Of course, Kerala floods are a national calamity. These floods have destroyed lives and livelihoods of thousands and a great majority of the survivors will find it very difficult to contain the damage along the emotional and financial strains.

Sit back, close your eyes, think how would you react if you see your home and all the belongings in it, getting washed away in front of your eyes. Yes, all gone or ruined in seconds! Leaving you back, staring at the skies, or if are fortunate enough to be rescued then sitting within the confines of a shelter-place. For how long? And in what circumstances? And with what ahead?

Kerala needs much more than food packets or clothing. Homes have got to be re-built. Lives have to be put on track. Damaged buildings have to be restored on a war-footing. Broken infrastructure has to be restructured. Roads and bridges and towers that connect have to be restored.

It is a crisis time. And at this juncture no nonsense ought to be tolerated. In fact, the well- known international supermarket chain—Lulu group—sacked one of their employees, Rahul Cheru Palayattu, a cashier with their Bousher, Muscat branch, when he came up with a third- class vulgar comment on the social media: words along the strain that instead of distributing sanitary napkins in the flood affected locales of Kerala, distribution of condoms would be a better idea. Yes, it was an offensive and insensitive comment and he deserved to be sacked. Thankfully the Lulu group management did not dilly-dally, sacked Palayuttu immediately. His termination letter by the firm’s Human Resource Manager, Nasr Mubarak Salem Al Maawali, read, “This is to inform that we have terminated your service with immediate effect because of your highly insensitive and derogatory comments on social media with regard to current flood situation in Kerala, India...You are hereby instructed to hand over all your official responsibilities to your reporting Manager immediately and to contact the Accounts Department for your final settlement.” And in a statement, Chief Communications Officer (CCO) of Lulu group V. Nandakumar said, “We took immediate steps to terminate his services and send out a very loud and clear message to the society about our stance in such issues. We as an organisation have always stood for humanitarian values and highest ethical practices.”

In fact, the head and owner of Lulu group, M.A. Yusuff Ali, who hails from Kerala and has donated 9.23 million UAE dirhams for relief and rescue in the flood-hit State, ought to be appreciated for the stand he and his company took in the immediate sacking of their employee. Perhaps, not an easy decision but one of those musts in the times we are living in.

And in complete contrast, third-class communal politics has begun erupting in the country over the tragedy of these floods. Hindutva elements are coming up with religious slotting even at this crisis juncture. I was left shocked and bewildered to read US-based writer Rajiv Malhotra’s tweet, relaying narrow-mindedness along the set pattern...words along the strain— ‘Please donate to help Kerala Hindus. Christians and Muslims worldwide raising lots of money to help mainly their own people and agenda.’

Of course, many more communal comments by many more communal characters are out there, on the social media, but are any of the offshoots of this government doing their bit to halt the venom, the sheer poison? When are we going to sack the communal commentators on the prowl! It’s about time we cry a halt to these communal elements, who are hell-bent on dividing us in the midst of this severe crisis.

The various Commissions should take note of the communal comments and take action against the mischief-makers, so that some level of sensitivity and sense prevails.

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