With nearly 8,000 persons confirmed dead, several thousands wounded or missing, and a growing number of persons exposed to radiation, the earthquake followed by the tsunami and then a nuclear accident have combined to create the biggest tragedy confronting the people of Japan since World War II. Nearly 40,000 persons have been rendered homeless and are being housed in emergency shelters. About 90,000 rescue workers are working round the clock to help. An entire week has been consumed in coming to terms with a shock and a tragedy of enormous proportions in a tiny island. The entire global community has expressed solidarity with the people of Japan. While many Indians living in Japan have returned home to India, many others are staying on. Infosys Technologies has done well to re-assure that it will continue its operations in Japan even though 200 of its staff have opted to return home. Those who chose to stay back and help Japan re-build will always be remembered as friends in need and deed. Hopefully, Indians working and studying in Japan who opted to return home to safety will go back to Japan and work shoulder-to-shoulder with their Japanese friends and colleagues to rehabilitate and rebuild.
In all the news reporting coming out of Japan, what stands out is the manner of the response of the people, the politicians and the media in Japan. The two words that leap to one’s mind while watching and reading reportage out of Japan are dignity and efficiency. The dignified response of the Japanese people to the humongous tragedy that has enveloped their lives is a great lesson in human dignity and decency for people around the world.
The Japanese have been known to be a nation of proud and dignified people. Their highly cultured and sophisticated nature is best exemplified by their demeanour (the bowing and the politeness), by their art and architecture and their simple lifestyle. Japan is a highly evolved nation and society. However, it is easy for the rich to be arrogant and brash. The Japanese have always been a picture of quiet dignity.
Apart from their dignified response to the great tragedy of the last week, what stands out equally is the efficiency with which all concerned have responded to the crisis — both nature’s fury and man-made mistakes. Japanese television was devoid of the kind of hectoring, name-calling and question-mongering that has come to define so much of the Indian electronic media. No journalist or opposition politician was seeking personal glory in a national tragedy. No one standing in front of a mike saying, “the nation wants to know”, no one accusing another, no one turning human tragedy into a business model. Rather, what was on display was the quiet efficiency with which a government, a people, and a nation were dealing with the situation at hand.
At this point the priority is to rehabilitate, to rebuild, to restrict the damage caused by the nuclear accident and to revive the livelihoods of the affected people and the economy of a vibrant nation. Once this is done, enquiries can and should be made to see if adequate precaution had been taken to avert the nuclear accident, and place responsibility on those who may have erred, so that anyone who is guilty is punished. But all that is for the future.