There Are No Heroes Here

Time is supposed to be the great healer, the scab that helps us recover from tragedy. When healing comes too quickly, however, we tend to forget how bad our injuries really were. That is certainly the tendency in calamity-prone India. Soon after a flood, drought, cyclone, landslide or train wreck, the air is filled with the sound of breast-beating demands for efficient disaster management. Then the clamor subsides and the victims of tragedy are forgotten—until the next calamity.

In October 1999, some 20,000 people died in a cyclone in Orissa. Entire villages were swept away, 2 million houses...

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