September 11, 2005

Comparison game

Found this in my mailbox recently, more than once; it's also been in various places on the Web and I'm sure you've seen it.

    inches of rain in new orleans due to hurricane katrina... 18
    inches of rain in mumbai (July 27th).... 37.1

    population of new orleans... 484,674
    population of mumbai.... 12,622,500

    deaths in new orleans within 48 hours of katrina...100
    deaths in mumbai within 48hours of rain.. 37.

    number of people to be evacuated in new orleans... entire city..wohh
    number of people evacuated in mumbai...10,000

    Cases of shooting and violence in new orleans...Countless
    Cases of shooting and violence in mumbai.. NONE

    Time taken for US army to reach new orleans... 48hours
    Time taken for Indian army and navy to reach mumbai...12hours

    status 48hours later...new orleans is still waiting for relief, army and electricty
    status 48hours later..mumbai is back on its feet and it's business as usual

    USA...world's most developed nation
    India...third world country..

    oopss...did i get the last fact wrong???
    Well Done Mumbaikars

One thought: on at least one count this is wrong. On the afternoon of July 26 itself, the Saki Naki landslide killed some 80 people. So the "deaths within 48 hours" figure is not 37, but substantially more.

But apart from that, I had a few random additions to make to this list. Here they are:

    Deaths in violence in Gujarat, 2002: 1000-2000.
    No similar violence in New Orleans, 2002.

    Deaths in violence and bomb blasts in Bombay, 1992-93: approx 1500.
    No similar violence in New Orleans, 1992-93.

    Deaths in violence in New Delhi, 1984: approx 3000.
    No similar violence in New Orleans, 1984.

Don't know why these facts did not make it into the widely-circulated little thingie I quoted to begin this post.

Never mind. Well done, somebody.

23 comments:

Anurag said...

I would also like to add a few aspects:

i) If Bombayites had been marooned for six months without shelter, food, and a light at the end of the tunner, how many would have got killed in looting?

ii) How much help did the state government provide for relief?

iii) How many people got fired in Bombay for not doing their jobs well?

I hate these baseless, jingoistic mails. Let us do something better than other countries before blowing our toots. Why don't we take positive things and compare them? For example, the fact that the US government did something to try and control the looting by placing troops in the city.

I give up. Our sense of national pride is the suffering and failure of other nations.

km said...

Wait, you forgot the most important statistic:

Number of government officials in Bombay removed for incompetence during relief operations: NONE.

Number of government officials in USA removed for their incompetence during relief operations: ONE.

Krishna

Anonymous said...

1)You're comparing state-sponsored violence against natural disasters , whereas the e-mail is comparing natural disaster vs natural disaster - what's your point?

2) Do you know how many people were beaten up during the post-Rodney King riots in LA?

3) Do you know how many blacks have been lynched and murdered by the KKK, on a daily basis?

How far back do you want to go when you want to make your comparisons?

The e-mail is stupid, but your response is truly dumber.

The fact of the matter is, America likes to believe it is the "beacon of freedom and democracy and human rights". It's funny when that "beacon" degenerates to our "level".

Anonymous said...

I second post by "anonymous" above. You cant compare state-sponsored violence with natural disaster.

Second point missing is:
Cases of shooting and violence in new orleans...Countless
Cases of shooting and violence in mumbai..None

AND people helping stranded people and distributing food (vada pao, biscuits, tea etc).. Countless.

Even 10 people stayed overnight in our house and I am proud of it and many thousand families who might have done that.

uma said...

and then on other days, when it's not raining anywhere, there are dowry deaths, caste killings, torching of dalits' houses...

get the point, anonymous commenters: the point is that you can't compare the two situations. and that you needn't waste time comparing them. the thing is to learn the right lessons and do what it takes to make sure people don't suffer like this again, wherever they are.

@mit said...

This is absurd ... we CANNOT compare two calamities ....

Numer one New Orleans is below sea level and there is a huge huge difference between Hurricane and rains... there are winds.

I think gloating about all this is useless and hopeless

Phantoms and Voices said...

This is actually rather ridiculous!

The comparison of 18" vs 37" does not take into account the broken levees and the terrain of New Orleans.

It is shameful that we have to find our sense of achievement/pride in someone else's sorrow...

Emma said...

I am not sure why we are even comparing these two calamities. Some perverted pleasure? For god's sake, there are people dying out there! I agree with Phantoms and Voices - how can we even find a sense of achievement in somebody else's sorrow?

Anonymous said...

Surprising as this may be to some people, there is such a thing as "come-uppance". When a calamity strikes in any other part of the world, Americans use it as an affirmation of how "great" their country is. Even when the tragedy happened, was it simply called a tragedy? Nope. It was referred to as having degenerated into a "third-world" style horror. What was the need to make that reference? Why should Americans always go scot free with their comparisons and condescension? And I think that first and foremost, the reason Indians are being smug about this, is because the first thing to be blamed when something goes wrong in India is the "culture", whereas when something goes wrong in the western world, it's a tragedy and us brown people would do best to keep our mouths shut. Do you know how India and Sri Lanka's offer of aid was greeted by Americans? With sarcasm. Why? Somebody offers you help, and if, as you say, a tragedy is a tragedy, why did it matter who the help was coming from? These are the lessons that have been learned. That Americans are hypocrites, just like the rest of us. That their "culture" is not superior to ours.

Anonymous said...

In response to Uma's comment,

and on other days in USA Sikhs are being killed in USA thinking they are afganis. Kids gun down parents, teachers and other students in class. Asian/indian person is beaten to death in UK just because he took someone's job.

So such things happen elsewhere too, not just in India.

Yes comparing two calamities is wrong but these comments were in response to the blog posted and not comparision.

Umesh Patil said...

Dilip, I have following points here:

1. I used (but not the originator!) this statistics in one of my blogs (http://21stcenturypolitics.blogspot.com/2005/09/functioning-government.html). I read part of it in MJ Akabars column on "www.asianage.com". I am sure it would have originated somewhere else quite early on.

2. In the same blog I also mentioned about Union Carbide Bhopal Tragedy of 1987 where in the aftermath of a man made disaster Indian Government did not do that well; especially over the years in disbursing the money. We have to wait how it happens in New Orleans but as I mentioned in the same blog, Jeb Bush did quite well in Florida last year.

3. Moral of the statistics: it is better that India does not use this statistics to gloat around. However, the real utility of this statistics is to argue against the 'wave' of Conservatives which has erupted in USA who want to drown such inefficient Government in the waters of Mississippi. What is happening is these conservatives are drawing one of the worst lessons out of this American tragedy and arguing that - look government is no good in saving us in crisis so let us destroy the government! Leaving aside the audacity of the argument, especially in the face of phenomenal Katrina tragedy; these very same Conservatives argued in the aftermath of 9/11 that it is the Republican Government of Bush only who can save Americans. The value of this statistics is to provide a concrete evidence that even weaker governments like India do serve their people on many occasions (of course fail on too many as well). So making Government to work should be the objective; not to remove the Government and bring the Jungle Raj back (as we saw for few days in New Orleans).

4. Final point, may be the real issue: was it the help and action from Indian government which made the impact less of Mumbai Floods compared to inaction of American Governments (Local, State and Fed) in early days? Looks like the answer could be no. There was some help in Mumbai Flood, but not to the extent so as it reduced the pain for people drastically. Further, the flood went way on it’s own and suffering reduced for people without much action from Maha State and GOI. On the other hand in New Orleans, after the early days; Fed is doing right things and spending stupendous amounts of money of which at least some part is getting spend usefully. So American Governments are making efforts to reduce the pain directly.

5. Then coming back to my analogy in my blog - use of the statistics is really to point out what a pathetic level of American Government performance has been. Making it to work should be the objective; not the Conservative fantasy of drowning the government in waters.

Thanks.

Emma said...

Dilip,
Thanks for the update on the URL. Yes, I do want to write to you on adoption. Have just been caught up with other stuff - will definitely do so this weekend.

TTG said...

LOL.
This whole stream of thought is amusing, becuase it's contemptible. Shame on you Dilip, for stooping as low as the original authors!

BTW, Anonymouses (Anonymice) - I wish you would give your names. You do make some good points.

That being said, I would just like to object to what Umesh is saying about how the Us Govt. is finally getting its act together. Far from it - you should check out Boing Boing for the mess that New Orleans is still in. They are preventing red cross workers from entering, they have jammed radio in the area("Security Reasons"), and they have forcibly relocated all residents elsehwere, on gunpoint, and are refusing to let them do simple things like cook their own food, and freely wander about ("Fire Hazard"). I have this from 3 different sources - one of my close friends studied in Tulane Univ.

KoPoS said...

Dilip,

For all that was stupid about the spam mail itself, your response is much more tackier than the original. Considering the tackiness of the spam, i doubt if you were fuming when you wrote the post and hence this faux pas.

Why would you even want to compare terrorism/riots with peacetime affairs? How different are you from the spammer who has compared two calamities and proclaimed India rocks?

Anonymous said...

Some more comparison:

In Louisana, Bush: "Browine you are doing heck of a job"

In Mumabi, Gore (Mirnal, not Al): "J B (D'Souza) you are doing heck of a job"

Anonymous said...

Krishna said:
"Number of government officials in USA removed for their incompetence during relief operations: ONE"

Who was removed? As far as I know everyone's still on the job and collecting paycheques.

Sriram said...

I agree with pretty much everyone here that comparing two calamities is beyond absurd. Yet I see more and more emails with the same content. How low can we go in our attempt to garner some national pride?

May be someone should compare what happened the last time a major earthquake struck India and USA.

Anonymous said...

maybe somebody should compare JB D'Souza and an Idiot to see which one is stupider

Nikhil said...

Disappointed that Dilip too had to resort to the same one-upmanship gimmick that the e-mailer did.

Anonymous said...

Notice how Dilip keeps on raking up Gujarat and the Delhi riots whenever we do something good. Seems that this will be a stick to beat Indians with whenever they feel good about their country.

Ok - let me make a few more comparisons for Dilips benefit:

Some muslims kill 3,000 Americans on Sep 11 2001

America kills double that number in Afghanistan and Iraq- That number keeps on rising daily - The end is not in sight.

In India - minority members hold the highest offices in the land.
In America- Do they?

After Katrina - VHP-America, IDRF and SEWA- (Note organisations that Dilip has compared to the likes of Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Swaggart and called them pseudo hindus)- are engaged in relief work. - Please check their websites.
After the tsunami or the Bombay deluge, Jerry Falwell and co are not doing anything.
So Dilip- Please do not try such stupid comaprisons. As you say the problems with such things is they will return to haunt you.

BTW - Why inflate the killings in Gujarat and stick to the figure in the Delhi 84 riots. Simple when his party is involved in the former.

Anonymous said...

Notice how Dilip keeps on raking up Gujarat and the Delhi riots whenever we do something good

How else can he cover the dismal failures of J B D'Souza who was at the helm of Maharashtra 'babu'dom when riots were a routine feature there?

Anonymous said...

typical emotional indian analysis

New Orleans is 5-20 feet *below* sea level. That is the main cause of the misery.

HOw about this statistic ?

Runs scored by Rahul Dravid in the first test against Zim : 77

Muslims killed in Gujarat by Modi : 30000000

Anonymous said...

Some more stat:

Runs scored by Bradman in his last innings: 0

Muslims killed in '83 by Congress in Neillie Assam: 30000000000000000