When all else has been pretty much said you select the voices at the fringes to express your opinions.
The Asian mega quake was equivalent of one million nuclear bombs exploded all at once. How does one deal with it? There are two ways: Prediction before the event and Action after the event.

What about the phase in between? Just sit back and enjoy the nature’s show on television live telecast. Imagine helicopters zooming with videos and cameras to capture the fury and broadcast it across to a voyeuristic audience ready for nature’s thrills. Imagine you could hire a wave-proof bubble that would enable you to roll and see the innards of the tsunami “up-close”. Hang on. Don’t consider me crazy yet! If we can predict “global warming” 50 years in the future I have hope and more importantly, reason to believe that human enterprise can floor nature’s vagaries. I am examining the line of thought that all human progress had progressed from ignorance to ingenuity. We are able to predict nature’s course of asteroids and can assemble enough ammunition to defuse it. But why so powerless against tsunamis?

The United States some time back contemplated the idea of a “futures market” to predict terrorist stikes. Would a “futures market” where scientists bet on researched and divulged pieces of information of impending earthline faults help to predict quakes much ahead in time. Much ahead in time to enable nations to take remedial steps to displace the would be affected. Now we know that of those displaced the most affected are the poor or more precisely, those, who have little else to fall back upon. Take the other end now. The prosperous ones are the least affected. So the more prosperous nations suffer less damages. Get the same funda from the Deputy Editor of Wall Street Journal over here.
“The Red Cross estimates that for the past 10 years when a natural disaster occurred in a developing country, the number of people killed was 589; but in what the Red Cross calls a country of “high human development” it was 51. That’s 11 to 1.”
The number of people who died of bad water and bad sanitation was more than two million. Now that doesn’t look as tsunamatic!

Figure it out, economic prosperity kills less! But for prosperity, we would have joined the select group of tsunami warned countries. The damage from this tsunami is expected to top $13 billion. A global warning system would cost an estimated $100 million. But for a dismally incentivised political & bureaucratic governance which is pretty much the biggest roadblock against free markets which deliver prosperity. The same governance will lead to a non sustainable distribution of the aid pouring in. An estimated 250 tons of supplies sat in an airport hangar in Indonesia for lack of coordination. “Too many countries have in the past sent assistance that nobody asked for that clogs up the airports, authorities, customs facilities so that the most important water and sanitation equipment that we desperately trying to get in would be delayed,” U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland told the International Herald Tribune. This is the Third World, which is often chaotic under the best of circumstances. We appreciate your efforts to help, but they are wasted…[if they are not coordinated].

Why am I so gung ho on economic prosperity? Because where earthquakes cause little damage to Japan, cyclones continue wreak havoc on our poor neighbour Bangladesh!

Post Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.

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Naveen Mandava

Naveen is Co-Founder at XamCheck, an organization that partners with schools, supporting them in processes they follow, with learning materials and processes that are all crafted to work together as an interconnected system to drive learning. He is a Doctoral Fellow from RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica, United States of America. He has worked extensively on assessment based decision support for governments, non-profit organizations and schools chains in India and the USA for over 10 years. He has been a Lead Consultant with the World Bank’s Innovations for Poverty Action Consortium, a Policy Analyst with RAND Corporation and a Research Manager at Centre for Civil Society.