Thursday, December 27, 2007

A disaster named Opportunity

On December 26, the third anniversary of the 2004 tsunami, the Kerala media looked at the progress of the rehabilitation of its victims. They found that many of those who lost their homes are still awaiting rehabilitation.

While the State government was yet to implement many of the promises made to the victims, the Mata Amritanandamayi establishment reportedly completed the task it had been entrusted with.

The ruling Left Democratic Front spokesmen repeated the allegation that the previous United Democratic Front administration had diverted tsunami relief funds to areas which were not hit by the disaster. Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy rebutted the charge and pointed out that even one and a half years after coming to power the LDF had not been able to produce any evidence in support of the charge.

Against the background of undelivered promises and charges and counter- charges by political parties, Naomi Klein’s observations about Disaster Capitalism, which turns every calamity into a business opportunity, deserves attention.

Naomi Klein, 37, is a Canadian journalist, author and activist. In a book, titled “The Shock Doctrine”, she explains how this doctrine works: “First there is a disaster, a coup or a terrorist attack, a tsunami, a hurricane: the population goes into shock, the economy is in a shambles, it’s a perfect opportunity to push through unpopular economic shock therapy. This means privatizing resources and selling state assets.
Klein travelled from Argentina in Chile, to South Africa and Iraq and to post-tsunami Sri Lanka to study how disaster capitalism works.

Naomi Klein

The San Francisco-based New American Media circulated yesterday the excerpts of a radio interview in which she outlined some of her findings.

On tsunami relief in Sri Lanka, she said, "The U.S. government was pushing that the tsunami was an opportunity for Sri Lanka to really launch its high-end ecotourism market. The World Bank
was very aggressive in pushing to adopt these policies in response to giving aid.

"The NGOs we gave money to were giving aid to people in these inland camps which were holding pens which were keeping these people in a passive state while this theft was going on. There’s a lot of regret now of those on the ground in the tsunami-affected region who realize they were accomplices to the theft."

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