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Exclusive: Director Nitin Chandra leaves Maithili Cine-lovers shocked and awed with ‘Mithila Makhaan’

The film was one among the three films that had a world premiere at the recently concluded International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) in Toronto

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Filmmaker Nitin Neera Chandra receiving the National Award for Best Film in Maithili for Mithila Makhan. Photo credit: Nitin Neera Chandra

by Shillpi A Singh

NewsGram presents an exclusive tête-à-tête with the cast and crew of this year’s National Award winning Maithili film, Mithila Makhaan. In the second part of the series, Shillpi A Singh gets you the story of how director Nitin Neera Chandra scripted history in the regional language cinema with his outings in Bhojpuri and Maithili.

“A crisis creates the opportunity to dip deep into the reservoirs of our every being, to rise to levels of confidence, strength, and resolve that otherwise we didn’t think we possessed.” These words by Jon Meade Huntsman Sr, an American businessman, and philanthropist, beautifully sum up the story behind the making of National Award winning Maithili film Mithila Makhaan by Nitin Neera Chandra, and to some extent his astounding career path. And mind you, he’s barely three films old. His directorial debut Deswa, in Bhojpuri, has left an indelible mark on the history of regional cinema, widely acclaimed and feted in the national and international film circuits for its gritty portrayal of the state of affairs in Bihar.

Dinesh Bhatia, Consul General of India in Canada, with film director Nitin Neera Chandra and actor Kranti Prakash Jha in Toronto. Photo credit: Nitin Neera Chandra

Close on its heels was Deswa’s Hindi remake Once Upon A Time in Bihar that created ripples for raising socio-political issues, authentic setting and storyline, and believable performances by its star cast. His third one, Mithila Makhaan, has catapulted the Maithili language cinema to the world stage and caught the fancy of filmgoers all over.

The film was one among the three films that had a world premiere at the recently concluded International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) in Toronto. Mithila Makhaan was the only one in Maithili to be part of IFFSA, touted as the biggest South Asian Film Festival in North America, in its five years history that witnessed participation of the film fraternity from across the globe.

The poster of the film Mithila Makhaan. Image source: Nitin Neera Chandra
The poster of the film Mithila Makhaan. Image source: Nitin Neera Chandra

Though it was Chandra’s second outing at IFFSA, first one was for Bhojpuri film Deswa, but it was truly an enlightening experience. “I am indebted to the Festival organisers for giving a global platform to my maiden venture in Maithili. It feels great to get a pie of the huge slice of adulation that IFFSA commands in North America. The affection and attention are motivating enough to make me say that I will surely come again to show Champaran Talkies’ next, Ladaku and Company Ustad, to the world.”

Sibling Revelry
Chandra hails from Dumraon, in Buxar district, which also happens to be the birthplace of Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan. Born in a modest family in Bihar’s capital Patna, he has two other siblings —  sister Neetu and brother Abhishek. While his brother is a costume designer, sister is an established actor of Hindi cinema and also the “honorary producer” of all his creative ventures. He completed his initial schooling from Patna and then like most others, moved to the Capital of the country for his undergraduate degree.

“Moving to Delhi for studies is like a rite for most natives of Bihar and it was no different in my case. It seemed like a natural progression,” he said. After completing the first lot of studies there, he moved to Pune, in Maharashtra, for his Masters in Media Research from the Department of Communication Studies, at the University of Pune.

Change of Course
As a student in Pune, he witnessed the anti-Bihar movement that was rampant on the campus and to some extent in the state, in the early Naughties. “The state of affairs in Maharashtra was disturbing. I was appalled to see the way people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were being treated. The attitude was certainly not in consonance with the state’s remarkable contribution in every field. It spoke volumes of ignorance, and this ignorance didn’t spell bliss for Biharis in general and students from the state in particular.” A baffled Chandra went on to make a short film “The Outsider” on the raging issue. In a way, the campus crisis made him change the course of his studies, from media research to film production. His first documentary “Bring Back Bihar: Moment of Awakening” was screened at various forums in India and abroad. Having a sister who is a famous actor, it was expected that he would sooner or later foray into films, but not many thought that he would go behind the camera and don a director’s hat.

The Crisis Call
In August 2008, heavy rains and poor maintenance caused a breach in the Kosi embankment near the India-Nepal border. The river Kosi, also called the Sorrow of Bihar, changed its course, wreaking havoc in parts of Bihar and neighbouring Nepal, and spelling misery in the 14 districts of the Mithilanchal region of the state. The disastrous floods that followed Kosi deluge changed the course of Chandra’s career. He witnessed the tragedy first-hand while working for an NGO in the flood-affected districts of the Mithilanchal region of Bihar and neighbouring Nepal. The catastrophe that the river had brought, the plight of people and subsequent migration of people to safer places in search of a better life and means of livelihood triggered his thought process. “The state needs not just job-seekers, but job creators who can make a more meaningful contribution to the state and help control widespread migration,” he said.

Screen smart
It was while travelling along the banks of rivers Kosi and Baghmati in the flood-ravaged villages that he conceived the idea of Mithila Makhaan. “I saw how people had lost not only their lives but also their livelihood. The raging river destroyed the standing crops, flattened houses and left thousands of people dead and lakhs stranded. I was part of the relief operation, but it was a short-term help and way too little for those affected by the deluge.” There is great catharsis in great pain and then something that is sublime. He made a documentary “Boya Ped Babool Kaa” narrating the catastrophe and his first-hand experiences of the worst tragedy in Bihar’s history.
He was back in Mumbai, but the images of the worst floods in Bihar’s history haunted him. “My determination to tell a story and motivate people to come and do their bit in being part of the change in Bihar grew stronger with the passage of time,” he said. The crisis created an opportunity for Chandra, lighting the creative spark and kick-starting his film career in some way. And the rest is history in the making, at least for the regional language cinema from the twin states of Bihar and Jharkhand.

A Son of the Soil
The movie-making exercise helps vent his creative fury on a larger canvas and satiate himself, in some measures, that he is doing whatever it takes to change Bihar and Jharkhand’s image in the minds of people at large. He set the ball rolling with his first film Deswa that changed the popular perception about Bhojpuri films. It wasn’t loud and brash unlike other films in the language that came as a refreshing change and caught the young cine-goers’ fantasy. “The film didn’t have any distasteful content or anything that smack of vulgarity. In fact, it boasted of a realistic storyline, and believable performances. It was a promising start and a sincere attempt to pull the native language speakers back to theatres,” he said. The 2011 film is a set against the theme of lawlessness in Bihar in the late Nineties and early Naughties and has serious political undertones as it depicts the state’s turnaround over a period of six years through the protagonists.
His attempt provided the much-needed facelift to Bhojpuri cinema, and it drew rave reviews from the masses and classes alike. The film was screened and lauded at the International Film Festival of India, International Film Festival of South Asia, Montage Film Festival, Habitat World Film Festival and International Film Festival of Fiji.
He also went on to remake Deswa in Hindi as Once Upon a Time in Bihar with the same star cast — Ashish Vidyarthi, Pankaj Jha, Kranti Prakash Jha, Arti Puri, and Deepak Singh — in the lead roles; the film was released last year.

Shock and Awe
From Bhojpuri, he moved on to explore cinematic opportunities in another regional language, Maithili, for his next, Mithila Makhan. Set against the backdrop of the 2008 Kosi deluge, the film poignantly captures the plight of those who faced the river’s wrath, losing lives, land, and livelihood to it. The protagonists of the movie try to breathe a new lease of life in the barren, lifeless village through their novel ways. They help revive two important sources of livelihoods — the first one being fox nut cultivation for the men, it’s processing, packaging and marketing, and the second one being preserving and promoting Maithili paintings by engaging the womenfolk of the village. “The film tries to instil pride, respect and a sense of belonging to one’s culture, traditions, language, literature, food, dress, song, music, dance and above all the way of living. These elements form our identity and should be preserved and promoted for the future generation. Or else we will lose ourselves,” said Chandra.
The other overbearing theme is to introduce the best of Mithilanchal to the world and get the youth involved in the development and progress of their immediate surrounding and promote the idea of Make in India. To sum up, “It is a back-to-the-roots story, told with great sincerity, about a courageous youthful rescue effort happening in Bihar.”

Festival Circuit
The film has managed to get ample attention at the recent world premiere at IFFSA, Toronto, and screening at Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi, and the National Film Archives of India, Pune. “The film was screened to a packed house at IFFSA. Many ladies had come to watch our film Mithila Makhaan. Not all of them came from Bihar or Jharkhand. They came from different social backgrounds and hailed from various parts of India. Their presence at the screening of a Maithili film was overwhelming,” said Chandra. Syed Ali Abbas, who watched the world premiere at IFFSA, was bowled over with the film’s presentation and how it had managed to capture the attention of the younger generation, who could relate to the characters and issues dealt deftly in the film. “Mithilaa Makhaan is a great movie and the effort and initiative behind its making is commendable. The best part was that it had managed to capture the attention of the new generation, like a teenager who has been raised in North America all along. It proves that you have accomplished your mission with this movie. Hope to see more in the coming years.”

Wooing the Audience
The scene in Pune was no different. It saw students and people from all walks of life and hailing from the twin states thronging NFAI Auditorium to watch the National Award winning film. “I am glad that a young man (Nitin Chandra) dared to challenge the age-old cinematic stereotypes about Bihar in particular and Biharis in general. The film will help dispel the misconceptions that people have about Bihar,” said Sushma Srivastava. Many like her didn’t want to miss the opportunity, more so because it was a matter of pride for them to see a film in their native language winning the National Award, the first of its kind honour for a regional language cinema from Bihar and Jharkhand. “It is an amazing feeling that our films Deswa and Mithila Makhaan are now at NFAI. It is a rare opportunity to see our films being part of the film archives, along with works of other great Indian filmmakers. We are here to create a rich legacy in our regional languages,” said Chandra.

Road Ahead
The director firmly believes that regional language cinema will be a force to reckon with in the days to come. He said, “This will be because English will take over Hindi but regional languages will survive especially in the South, Punjab, Bengal, and Maharashtra.” He emphatically asserted that “no film in any language is regional, but there is regional language cinema. And if cinema was regional, then Satyajit Ray’s films would not be taught at the New York University.” His sister Neetu was in agreement with him on this subject. “Films are never regional, languages are. We have made global films in regional languages,” she proudly said.
He added that it is high time that the younger generation comes forwards and does its bit in preserving and promoting the native languages such as Bhojpuri, Maithili, Magahi, Avadhi, etc. He quoted an interesting anecdote to bring forth the point. “While travelling from Mumbai to London, I saw an 83-year-old Gujarati lady, who was sitting next to me, and watching a Gujarati film and enjoying it thoroughly.” Do we take that kind of pride when it comes to a film in Bhojpuri or Maithili? he tersely asked. If we don’t, then whom do we blame for the degradation of regional language cinema? The fault lies in our myopic approach. “We want the entire country to know about a Maithili film winning the National Award but have we done enough to give it the kind of respect it deserves in its home states.”

Activist to the Core
Chandra calls himself a “fire on the social networking sites”, and rightly so. He has been quite vociferous in expressing his thoughts on matters that matter to an ordinary man, from over speeding vehicles to Board results to brutal rape of a girl in a village in Madhubani, Bihar, to the ban of liquor in his native state. He dares to express his views and draws a lot of appreciation from his fans and followers. His posts are poignant and touching sometimes, hilarious and newsworthy on most occasions. In one of his recent posts, he urged parents to accept their child’s results in Class 10 and 12 Board exams heartily and refrain from judging them based on their scores because every child is brilliant in one or the other way. “Encourage and never compare your kids with anyone. It will scar them for life,” he wrote in his FB post. After Bihar was officially declared a dry state, he posted parodies of famous Hindi songs that will be played in the times of prohibition. But even on this platform, it is Bihar that wins hands down, finding a mention in 90% of his post. That’s a subject closest to his heart. And will always be.

 In the next part, we will get up, close and personal with the stars of the award-winning film. So watch out for this space!

Shillpi is a freelance contributor at NewsGram. She may be reached at:  shilpi.devsingh@gmail.com 

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Rs 10,000 cr will be given to top 10 Universities to make them World-Class, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

Patna, October 14: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said it was a “blot” that Indian universities do not figure among the top 500 of the world and noted that the government has decided to give autonomy and Rs 10,000 crore to top 10 public and private universities over the next five years to make them world-class

.Addressing the centenary Celebrations of Patna University here in presence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Modi said Indian universities such as Nalanda and Takshashila attracted students from all over the world.

“We are not among the top 500. We should remove this blot or not. The situation should change through our determination and hard work,” Modi said.

He said the government has come with a scheme to make 10 private and 10 public universities world-class by providing them autonomy from the constraints of government rules and freedom to grow.

“They will be given Rs 10,000 crore in the next five years,” Modi said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the selection will not be on any recommendation. “The universities will be a selected on the basis of a challenge in which they will be required to prove their mettle. The selection will be based on factors such as history, performance and its roadmap reach global benchmarks. A third party professional agency will be involved in the selection process,” Modi said.

Referring to demands for making Patna University a central university, Modi said it should strive to be among the globally-ranked varsity based on the competition and “this was many times ahead of being a central university”.

“Patna University should not stay behind (in the challenge),” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said reforms in the country’s education sector have progressed at a slow speed and there have been differences among educationists which had hampered innovation with the governments too not measuring up to the task.

The Prime Minister said that for two years he heard arguments for and against granting more autonomy to Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and then a big decision was taken.

“It is for the first time that the IIMs are out of government control and have been professionally opened up. This is a big opportunity for them and they would make the best use,” he said.

Modi said that Patna University was known to produce IAS and IPS officers and in the same manner IIMs are known to produce Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of global companies.

He also urged universities to move from conventional teaching to innovative learning and involve alumni associations more actively.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said 65 per cent of the population of the country was below 35 years in age and the dreams of development can be fulfilled.

“We need to understand the changing trends across the world and the increased spirit of competitiveness. In that context India has to make its place in the world,” Modi said.

He appreciated the efforts Nitish Kumar towards development of the state and said the progress of eastern India is the Centre’s topmost priority.

“The commitment of Nitish Kumar towards the progress of Bihar is commendable. The Centre attaches topmost importance to the development of eastern India,” Modi said.

He said when the country celebrates the 75th anniversary of Independence day in 2022, he wants to see Bihar standing among the list of prosperous states.

Modi also said that many top level officials of civil services are students of Patna University.

“In every state, the top levels of the civil services has people who have studied in Patna University. In Delhi, I interact with so many officials, many of whom belong to Bihar… I consider it my honor to visit Patna University and be among the students. I bow to this land of Bihar. This university has nurtured students who have contributed greatly to the nation.”

He said that Bihar is blessed with both ‘Gyaan’ and ‘Ganga.’ “This land has a legacy that is unique,” he said.(IANS)

One response to “Rs 10,000 cr will be given to top 10 Universities to make them World-Class, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi”

  1. Grant of money alone does not make great institutions of learning, just as making large grand buildings, and setting up large sophisticated laboratories. It is the high ideals, learning & character in honest pursuit of knowledge and service that facilitates to create an atmosphere of pursuing higher & higher knowledge for the sake of welfare of humanity. An the open atmosphere of freely sharing the expertise & experience of seniors with development of young brains is equally important . This aspect has been pointed out by our Prime minister by the involvement of Alumni for the development of great institutions of learning.
    Another aspect that has not received due attention in the field of education in India so far is that we have not addressed properly the question of training and developing teachers of right caliber & character right from nursery and primary school levels of education to postgraduate levels in university in all fields of education i.e. humanities, engineering and medical schools by taking in to consideration present needs of society.
    Another point to note is that the famous All India Institution of Medical Sciences in Delhi was not set up to provide super speciality hospital services to the country, but to develop excellent faculty of teachers in collaboration with Harvard. This objective got lost on the way.

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Lalu Yadav is Shamelessly Corrupt and a Fake Secular

The author Gaurav Tyagi asserts that Lalu’s party RJD, should be disbanded and a life ban should be imposed on Lalu plus his kin from pursuing political careers. Read on to know why!

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Lalu Yadav
Does Lalu Yadav portray himself as the ‘messiah’ of Muslims by aligning with fundamentalist Muslim preachers? Wikimedia


– by Gaurav Tyagi


New Delhi, September 5, 2017 : 
26th July witnessed a big political drama in India, when Nitish Kumar, the C.M. of Bihar submitted his resignation.

The government in Bihar was a coalition of three political parties; Nitish Kumar’s JD(U), Lalu Yadav’s RJD and Congress.

Nitish was back in the C.M’s chair, the very next day due to the support extended to his party, JD (U) by BJP to form the government in Bihar.

The coalition of the aforesaid three parties thereby collapsed, which annoyed Lalu Yadav, the head of RJD a lot.

Lalu Yadav hijacked the plank of secularism to indulge in blatant corruption and promote his family in politics.

Secularism implies the principle of separating government institutions as well as politicians from religion and religious figures. In India the meaning of secularism has entirely been altered by politicians like Lalu, who openly woo Muslim fundamentalists from Mosques and waste government funds in order to appease them.

Lalu keeps on harping upon keeping Muslims safe in Bihar. Maintenance of law and order is the foremost task of any elected government, what’s the big deal in it?

ALSO READ Dynasty syndrome: Lalu chosen as RJD chief for 9th time

Lalu’s politics involves developing vote banks from his caste comprising of Yadavs and Muslims.

He portrays himself as the ‘messiah’ of Muslims by aligning with fundamentalist Muslim preachers and gangsters like Shahbuddin.

Lalu never addresses the root cause of poverty and backwardness among Indian Muslims.
It is largely due to the community shunning of mainstream educational institutes and going to worthless madrasas, (Muslim religious schools) which primarily focus on students, rote learning of the Muslim holy book; Koran.

In the absence of modern knowledge, madrasa graduates are unable to improve their material prosperity and face the challenges of contemporary society.

The Ulemas or the Islamic scholars’ regressive attitude is reflected in the following statement of Maulana Samiul Haq, of the Haqqania madrasa, a prominent Deobandi madrasa; “Young minds are not for thinking. We catch them for the madrasas when they are young, and by the time they are old enough to think, they know what to think.”

Fake seculars like Lalu would never tell Muslims to study in proper schools because an educated Muslim can easily decipher the tricks played by such politicians.
A large number of illiterate or madrasa brand Muslims suit Lalu because then by showing the fear of BJP and Hindus, these Muslims can be easily turned into vote banks for his political party.

CBI, ED and other government agencies recently conducted large number of raids on Lalu and his family. They discovered Billions amassed by this so called ‘champion of oppressed’.

Lalu accumulated large number of farm-houses, land holdings, companies etc. in the name of his family comprising of his illiterate wife and 9 children; 7 daughters and 2 sons.

Both his sons, Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav, are school drop-outs. The former was the deputy CM of Bihar with various ministerial portfolios, while the latter was the Health Minister of the province in the coalition government.

Lalu Yadav
Tejashwi Prasad Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav at a public event. Twitter

Lalu was declared guilty by the courts for his lead role in the Bihar fodder scam worth thousands of Crores. Lalu Yadav was jailed for 135 days in 1997 but he was lodged in a Bihar Military Police guest house with all comforts.

Before his incarceration, Lalu installed his uneducated wife Rabri Devi as the C.M. of Bihar. Lalu was jailed on various other occasions for his involvement in the aforementioned swindle.

Every time, Lalu was put in prison, he received 5 star hotel facilities and got bail easily. Lalu continued being the de facto C.M of Bihar by inducting his wife as the rubber- stamp C.M. of Bihar.

He was finally sentenced to a 5 year jail term in October 2013 by a special CBI court.
Instead of being in a jail, he is again out on bail, busy in enriching and establishing his progeny in politics.

A poster for Lalu Yadav’s political rally in Patna on Sunday, 27th August depicted one of Lalu’s foolish son as Lord Krishna while the other buffoon is shown as Arjun. Lalu’s daughter and Rajya Sabha M.P, Misa Bharti is depicted as the famous freedom fighter, Rani of Jhansi; Lakshmibai. Lalu and his wife Rabri are blessing their children in this poster.

What a mockery of historical and religious characters.

Lalu is saying that he and his family are being victimized. These utterances constitute ‘heights of shamelessness’.

Lalu indulged in blatant corruption and misuse of office for personal gains. On getting exposed he started parroting; this is a conspiracy of BJP and law would take its own course.

These terms in India mean that court cases would drag for 20-30 years. The politician will die but the court proceedings would still remain pending.
Classic example is Jayalalitha, the court cases against her were continuing since, 1996 but the final judgment was passed in 2017 after her death.

Lalu’s son, Tejashwi Prasad, the Ex-Deputy C.M of Bihar was a member of IPL cricket team, Delhi Daredevils for 4 years from 2008-2012.

ALSO READ Lalu’s son Tej Pratap faces his first electoral test in Mahua

During these 4 years, Tejashwi didn’t play a single game for Delhi Daredevils.

Which sporting team in the world would keep such a useless player in its squad?

Delhi Daredevils is owned by GMR group. This business house must be investigated, as to what were the compelling reasons behind continuous retention of this trash cricketer, who wasn’t competent to play even a single game during 4 seasons.

What were the financial benefits given to Tejashwi? Did the GMR group receive concessions from Lalu Yadav in exchange for keeping his son in Delhi Daredevils team? These are serious issues and need further investigations.

Misa Bharti, eldest daughter of Lalu Yadav is a Rajya Sabha M.P. She topped the MBBS examination of Patna Medical College Hospital during the late 90’s.

Misa never excelled in her classes, either at school or college. At her convocation, the presenter of the degree requested her not to treat any patients ever.

Lalu through his clout in Bihar first got her admission into MBBS and then deceptively made her a topper.

Misa Bharti after topping her MBBS studies and obtaining her medical degree did not work as a Doctor even for a single day, neither did she start her own medical practice.

This is humbug Lalu Yadav, the ‘self- styled’ protector of Muslims and ‘self- declared’ skipper of the Indian opposition political parties, comprising of so called secular forces but in reality just corrupt family controlled political dynasties.

Lalu and his political clan should be imprisoned for at least a minimum period of 10 years with provisions of no bail plus hard labor in the jail.

All undeclared properties; including land parcels, bank accounts, commercial businesses, residences etc. unearthed by the authorities during raids on Lalu and his family must be confiscated by the central government.

Lalu’s party RJD, which is nothing more than a corrupt family enterprise should be disbanded and a life ban imposed on Lalu plus his kin from pursuing political careers.

An exemplary example needs to be made of this corrupt, Lalu so, as to deter other existing as well as budding ‘Lalu Prasad Yadavs’, abounding in the Indian political system from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

 

– The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China.

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UNICEF Calls for Action : 16 Million Children Continue to Suffer as Floods in South Asia Claim More than 1,300 Lives

According to data released by UNICEF, the unusually heavy monsoon over the last several weeks has claimed more than 1,300 lives across India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

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India army soldiers carry children rescued from flood affected villages near Thara in Banaskantha district, Gujarat, India (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki) (VOA)
  • Floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh have claimed more than 1,300 lives in the last two months
  • According to UNICEF, over 16 million children in the three countries are in urgent need of life-saving support
  • Persistent rainfall has damaged school infrastructure, apart from depriving children of safe places to stay at, and necessities like drinking water and food

New Delhi, September 4, 2017 : Hurricane Harvey created havoc in Houston in August, claiming 15 lives and displacing tens of thousands of people. The event was largely covered by national and international media alike, keeping people abreast with the latest updates. However, the floods in South Asia, which are equally devastating, are yet to receive due coverage from international media. According to data released by UNICEF, the unusually heavy monsoon over the last several weeks has claimed more than 1,300 lives across India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

In its entirety, over 45 million people have suffered the direct impact of the rains and its resulting floods.

Floods in South Asia

For over two months, incessant rains have submerged numerous villages thereby forcing vast numbers of people into evacuation centers and relief camps.

According to a UN Agency report, over 16 million children residing in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh are in dire need of life-saving support due to weeks of torrential monsoons that have given rise to ‘catastrophic’ floods in the three South Asian countries.

UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia, Jean Gough noted that millions of children have already been affected by these devastating floods as incessant rains continue to pose potential threat.  “Children have lost their homes, schools, and even friends and loved ones. There is a danger the worst could still be to come as rains continue and flood waters move south,” she added, according to a report by PTI.

According to official figures, at least 1,288 deaths have been reported since mid-August.

Gough believes the persistent rainfall and the resulting water accumulation have damaged school infrastructure among other things which will hamper children from attending classes for weeks, or even months. According to her, “Getting children back into school is absolutely critical in establishing a sense of stability for children during times of crisis and provides a sense of normality when everything else is being turned upside down”

Among other urgent needs of these children are clean drinking water, sufficient food supplies, hygiene supplies to control and combat the spread of potential diseases and safe evacuation places for the children to stay at, study and play.

ALSO READ Thousands displaced in Myanmar due to floods

Devastation from floods in India

According to a report by PTI, in the northern part of the country, over 31 million people have been affected in four states due to the extensive flooding. Out of this, 12.33 million sufferers are believed to be children.

The tally of houses damaged by the floods has reached 805,183 while 15,455 schools have been damaged, that has disrupted the education of children.

Additionally, the heavy downpour in Mumbai has already claimed five deaths due to drowning while twelve people, including two children have died due to the collapse of a building.

ALSO READ Why do buildings collapse?

Rescue operations are being undertaken in these states by their respective state governments, which include carrying out relief, recovery and rehabilitation operations.

Furthermore, the state governments have also sought multi-sectoral planning and coordination support from UNICEF in the three worst affected states. These include Bihar, Assam and Uttar Pradesh.

Devastation from floods in Bangladesh

According to Oxfam, with the rising water levels, the flooding is believed to be the worst since 1988 with nearly two-thirds of the country currently submerged under water.

More than 8 million people are reported to have been hit by the floods in Bangladesh, out of which 3 million are allegedly children. Primary and community educational institutions across the country have been terribly hit with as many as 2,292 schools reportedly damaged by the high water.

The country has also reported over 13,035 cases of water-borne diseases.

Devastation from floods in Nepal

Floods in Nepal have displaced 352,738 people from their homes, thus, affecting over 1.7 million people. The water has reportedly surfaced to dangerous levels, to escape which people are making use of makeshift rafts and elephants for rescue operations.

According to a report by PTI, damage to nearly 1,958 schools has affected the education of over 253,605 children.

Major media giants across the world are pledging their support to help combat the scale of  destruction.

In a blog post, Google Vice-President of South East Asia and India wrote, “We are committing $1 million from Google.org and Google employees to Goonj and Save the Children for their relief efforts.”

The NGO, Goonj aims to offer assistance to over 75,000 affected families across India and provide them with basic needs like food, blankets and hygiene supply while on the other hand, Save the Children is focused on setting up child-friendly public spaces for the children to have access to educational material.

Similar organizations have taken up an active role to help rebuild infrastructure for the community like roads, bridges and physical infrastructures.

What causes floods in South Asia?

Apart from the high magnitude of rainfall received this year, the floods in south Asia are believed to have been aggravated by human actions such as reckless construction on floodplains and in the coastal areas, waterways clogged by garbage and a faulty drainage system

According to a report published by VOA, experts have pointed out the inefficiency of the governments of the three countries and have said that is has become increasingly evident that the South Asian governments were unprepared for the annual monsoon showers.

However, disaster management officials also assert that it will be unfair to criticize the governments in view of the magnitude of the floods this year.


 

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