Reclaiming their space…

Most of us on Whatsapp would have got a message, if not several, on how a river ultimately reclaims what rightfully belonged to it once upon a time. One on my feed had this chilling message: “A river never forgets. Even after decades and centuries pass, the river comes back to recapture its borders.” The river here is of course the Yamuna, and the accompanying pictures and video depict the angry, swollen Yamuna inundating so many parts of Delhi that were once its territory. As Delhi’s roads turned into rivers and inflatable boats appeared on the streets to ferry the stranded people to safety, water entered homes, offices, medical facilities and even the Delhi secretariat, of course the blame game started. Those politically opposed to the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had a field day letting loose a meme festival. Most of the memes pulled out an earlier speech of his promising how he would turn Delhi into a lake city. The ministers blamed the bureaucrats, the bureaucrats brushed off the complaint of non-action or late action and so it continued. Water body experts attributed the excessive flooding of the various areas in Delhi to the encroachment of floodplains, extreme rainfall in a short duration and the accumulation of silt, which had elevated the riverbed.

Once again, amidst the trading of charges between politicians, the National Disaster Response Force had to be summoned to rescue the trapped citizens of Delhi. As the rain and flood fury continued unabated, Rotary defining environmental protection as its 7th area of focus was justified yet again. Of course there was also heavy flooding in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana caused by rivers in spate, but as usual the media highlighted only the mayhem in high-profile Delhi! No surprise there.

The glaring message from recurring floods all over India is relentless and greedy encroachment by the Homo sapience on the planet’s resources. Invariably payback time kicks in, but are lessons learnt? The answer is obvious.

Moving on to more cheerful news, July is the installation month for all new leaders. This time around, it was gratifying to see as many as seven women governors being installed as their district’s leaders in our zone. We’ve never seen this number in a single year, and if the next couple of years are any indication, won’t do so for a little while. But for the moment at least, let us celebrate the “second sex,” as the great champion of women’s rights Simone de Beauvoir called women. The chilling video of two Kuki-Zo women being paraded naked in Manipur, proves that brutality against helpless women continues.

And yet women are breaking barriers, and proving that like wronged rivers, they will eventually reclaim what is rightfully due to them. Good luck, and godspeed to these women governors, and their male counterparts… to do good, fight injustice, and create hope for the unfortunate, weak and oppressed in their communities.

Rasheeda Bhagat

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