Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Daily Tsunamis

December 31st, 2004 · No Comments

Atanu Dey writes about the “silent emergency” in which tens of thousands die everyday:

Yesterday 55,000 children died premature deaths, a few hundred million people didn’t have adequate housing, hundreds of millions were hungry. About half of all children in South Asia are malnourished. Poverty, a clear cause of malnourishment, is a also a consequence. It is a Silent Emergency.

We are a strange lot. We get on with our lives as if nothing is the matter with the world, when 10 million children die needlessly every year.

The advanced industrialized economies (the so-called “developed nations”) spend hundreds of billions of dollars bombing and killing hundreds of thousands–and spending trillions of dollars in arming themselves to the teeth–and noone bats an eyelid. It is a man-made calamity of global proportions. Then one Sunday morning, a natural event wipes out a few thousand people–almost a rounding-off error to the numbers invovled in the man-made calamity and everyone and his brother wakes up and runs around as if the sky is falling.

Why? Bounded rationality? Or as I see it, unbounded stupidity. Fifty-thousand dying each and every day is not news. Being essentially innumerates, we do not find statistics very useful. What we need is pictures of great devastation for entertainment and distraction. The pictures of tsunami-ravaged coastlines compel our attention unlike the numbers we read in the annual reports of global institutions such as the World Bank.

Tags: General

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