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.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Despatches 39: Brand building

As Dilip points out early in our trip, one of the industries that flourishes during a disaster is the banner-painting industry. Every aid agency that goes out to do relief work wants to advertise the goodness of its heart, and trucks are laced with banners, villages filled with posters, and signage, as I'd call it my my shameful days in advertising, is everywhere.

This is not necessarily objectionable. If an NGO does relief work, it is perfectly entitled to blow its trumpet. But in one village that we went to, we found meticulously positioned banners that said that the relief agency in question, one that I'd never heard of before this, had adopted the village. And what had they actually done? They had come there three days ago and fed the villagers lunch. That's adoption?

Every disaster is an opportunity, both to do good and to exploit. There are plenty of people willing to do both, and sadly, the sharks can sometimes eat a lot of fish.
amit varma, 12:35 AM| write to me | email this to a friend | permalink