India Uncut - The Tsunami Posts

At the end of December 2004 and the beginning of January 2005, I travelled through the tsunami-affected areas of Tamil Nadu, India. These are the posts from just before, during and after my trip that I wrote for my blog, India Uncut.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Despatches 31: No knives, some payment

We meet with Dr CS Ramachandran, a former governor of the Rotary Club. Rotary, with a network of Rotarians all along the coast, has been doing a fair amount of relief work all along the coast. Dr Ramachandran shares a couple of his interesting learnings with us.

One: “In the relief packages that we give the affected people,” he says, “we make sure that there is no cutting knife. We have seen villagers fight among themselves for anything, and those fights become more common at such times, when there is scarcity of resources and everyone is on edge. So we do not give anything that could be used as a weapon.”

Two: “After the initial phase of relief, we put a price on the medicines we give out. I have noticed, in the past, that when we give medicines for free, people are reluctant to accept them, thinking ‘ if it is free, it cannot be good’. But if we put a value on it, any value, they are willing to accept it. So some days after the initial emergency phase, we start selling medicines at one rupee. They may cost Rs 100, but the people don’t view it as charity, and place some value on it. Later, we may start selling medicines for two rupees. People start valuing it even more, and buy even more.”
amit varma, 7:55 PM| write to me | email this to a friend | permalink