As the days go by, the grim and tragic reality of what happened on Sunday morning across South and South-East Asia is becoming apparent. The death toll in the earthquake and the tsunamis which followed is already up to 60,000 and still rising. The relief effort is perhaps the largest the world has ever undertaken.
There is little we can do in the wake of natural disasters. But, as is being discussed, a real-time warning system which tracks exceptional events and indicators, could have made it possible to get the word across to people in the coastal areas. While natural disasters cannot be prevented, technology must be able to play a role in alleviating the human impact of such events.
As the magnitude of what had happened become clear, I was struck by one of the incidents in Michael Crichtons recent book, State of Fear, which I had just read. While that deals with global warming and eco-terrorism, one of the incidents discussed in the book is the efforts by a few to actually cause the equivalent of an underwater earthquake in South-East Asia and trigger a tsunami which would impact Los Angeles in the name of attracting attention to the cause to abrupt climate change. There is of course no correlation what happened on Sunday was a natural event, but I could not help thinking about the uncanny similarity with the Crichton event.
We all have to do our best to assist in the efforts. India has risen as one twice in the past five years during Kargil, and in the aftermath of the Gujarat earthquake. We need to do so once again.
As I was sitting today morning in the balcony of my home in Mumbai looking out to the Arabian Sea, I wondered at the calmness of the early morning waters and couldnt help but think how little we know of the future. One moment people were going about their lives on Sunday morning, and the next they were hit by a wall of water. We know very little of whats going to happen next. But what we must attempt to do is to live our lives well so that we can make a positive difference in the time that we are on Earth.