India: a routine level of crisis

Just before I arrived in India in mid-September, unusually heavy monsoon rains in the state of Uttarakhand led to widespread, destructive flooding which resulted in 5,700 deaths and over 110,000 evacuations.

In the three and a half weeks since I’ve been here, the following events have also happened:

A terrorist cell attacked a police station and invaded an Army barracks near Jammu.

A renewed campaign of border violations was launched by Pakistan-supported insurgents in Kashmir, which is still ongoing and being fought by the Indian Army.

Communal violence erupted between Hindus and Muslims in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, resulting in almost 50 deaths.

Riots and mass strikes broke out in Andhra Pradesh, in protest against its planned division into the two states of Telangana and Seemandhra.

Cyclone Phailin hit the coast of Orissa (and other states), causing widespread damage. Over half a million people had been evacuated from the area.

A stampede of pilgrims crossing a bridge in Madhya Pradesh resulted in 60 deaths.

I wondered if I’d turned up in the country at a particularly bad time, with pure chance piling up a number of unusual and tragic events at the same time. But apparently not. This is just the routine level of crisis that the country lives with all the time. I haven’t even mentioned the Naxalite communist insurgency, nor Sachin Tendulkar‘s retirement from professional cricket. It’s amazing that India even manages to exist, yet somehow it does.

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