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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 25, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta WttintJ'by, Novsmbti S3, 1770 TUB ICTHBRIDCI IICRALD Cyril Dunn Disaster inescapable in East IF the world had a linker- sal compassion, then the nations would surely unite to evacuate Hie people from the Mouths of the Ganges in East Pakistan and transfer them to the empty spaces of the earth. For the latest cyclone disaster has shown yet again that this is the most dangerous densely- popubted region on the globe and one which not even mod- ern technology can protect. This is where three of the mightiest rivers of the East- tile Ganges, the Jamuna and the Brahmaputra all merge to form a massive delta, hot and flat. Seen from the air, the whole of East Pakistan south of Dacca looks like a giant jig- saw puzzle, set afloat on a pla- cid lake and then shaken gently apart, Where it fringes the Bay of Bengal and is broken up into islands, the land is ludicrously low lying. If the cliffs rise more than a foot above the wa- ter, the local people call it "high land." On quiet days, when the air is humid and still, the land- scape has a weird and stagger- ing beauty. Spread over the gleaming w a t e r, (lie islands look no thicker than a coat of briEiant paint. Country bo a t s with antique sails crowd all Hie waterways the only high- roads of-the region. Over to the west, towards Calcutta, it is all dense forest Sudei'bans, the home of the royal Bengal tiger. But here it is level and bare, for growing rice and grazing cattle. Trees grow only where the villages are usually in a line across the middle of Hie island. And these have been planted by Uw villagers as their only hope and refuge when the cyclones strike. And everywhere ilie land is as soft as cake. Against these pitiful ramparts the eylclones crash and have been doing so, presumably, since the beginning of time. The storms come whirling up the Bay of Bengal and smash into this comer, this huge dead etid, where the coast of the Indian subcontinent swings th r o u g h more than a right-angle to be- come the coast of Burma. The tidal wave that heralds it runs in over the level land, without warning in the days be- fore radio, advertised only by its own roaring and by the lights of country boats carried on its crest. After its first onset, the water rises implacably and slowly. In May, 11W5, it took almost two hours lo reach Ifi feet deep enough drown the trivial houses of most of the people and to drive them into the up- per branches of the trees. Then for an hour or more, the water hung poised. Only then did the wind come howling in, at speeds of BO to 100 miles an hour, tear- ing all but the strongest from their handholds. And as the wind subsided, all the accumu- lated water went rushing back into the Bay, taking dead people with it. Long as it is, the record of cyclones in the Bay of Bengal is incomplete, taking note only of major disasters. In people were killed, in 1876, 000. Each of these storms struck where the present one has, high up in the corner, reaching cast- ward to include the littoral of the Chittagong Hill Track and sweeping round to overwhelm the Mouths of the Ganges. Though in the past smaller dis- asters have no doubt been left out of account, so that fewer than dead got no place in the record, it looks as if the frequency of these storms has steadily increased. In some years there are two ona around May, when the rice is being another in Octo- ber-November, when Hie har- vest is due, With terrible catastrophe al- ways hanging over them, it must seem incredible that the people do not migrate from the Mouths of the Ganges of their own free will. One might sup- pose that supers t i t i o u s fear alone would drive them away, for it certainly appears that their land is the object of God's implacable hatred. It is being said that the peo- ple of the Delta are fatalists. In fact, they are by repute the most devout and orthodox of Muslims in all Pakistan a country created to be a safe homeland for their faith. And it is an article of that faith that "God disposes" and good Mus- lims accept disaster and death, not simply with resignation, but with spirit. One survivor of the 1965 cyclone an old mau- lana in his little lace cap and bearded like a Boer was ask- ed by a reporter why he did not rise up in wrath and demand from his Government a safer place to live. "Have you come here to teach me to he asked. "You are a dirty man." But though spiritual convic- tion may bind many of the Delta people to their dangerous islands as it bound many old Dutch people, conscious of "God's to their mar- ooned ho'iscs in the great flood of 1953 -he truth ;s that they cannot go anywhere else and hope for anything but abject poverty. Whatever may be urg- ed against the Mouths of the Ganges as an habitation, it is formed of the world's most fer- tile soil. The rice it grows is vital, not only to the people who live there, but to the wellbeing as it is of all East Pakistan. As one official put it in 1965, rejecting with incredu- lity the very notion of evacua- tion: "If the people were taken away, who would cultivate the Besides, the people know that if it is to serve its purpose, the land they live on has to be low- lying and dangerous. It must lie open to the beneficent river- floods of the monsoon season if it is to grow rice. In Septem- ber some 90 per cent of the land is covered by the mild, silt- bearing water of the great riv- ers. For the annual good with- out which they could not sur- vive, the people have U) accept the risk pf periodical disaster someone thinks of a practicable alternative. But they do not leave every- thing to chance. It is obvious that they have survival techni- ques or perhaps simply an inborn ability to survive be- yond the comprehension of [he West. Apart from those who drown hi each major cyclone calamity, there are countless thousands left in a condition which might welt mean death to the sturdiest Westerner. Yet there is no evidence that these East Pakistan disasters after the first death toll which oc- curs in E matter of moments, are followed by a slower and much heavier mortality. And this is so even though the peo- ple seem to get little relief when they urgently need it. _ Moreover, they breed against the menace of catastrophe. In the Mouths of the Ganges it is customary for a man to have three or four wives. In this af- flicted region there is no neces- sary connection between mar- riage and love. Men and wom- en come together to get chil- dren and most families have at least 10 them so that if the worsl o crtukos them, some may hopo survive. Bui polio Ml this means that survivoit nol heard to say: "Sahih wo would like to go away Jicre." But where is there for lo go? Inland, in Dacca and the other towns, or on the higher ground to the north, there is no hope for them. A mass roik.ration would create a refugee problem with which impoverished East Pakis tan could i.-jt possibly cope. The in- land districts are already gross- ly oveirrowjecl. The lot of ur- ban vreriwrs is often harsher Uian Uihl yf the Delta people, though ssior. And vvhere else in the world would they be welcome? Ask those who framed our Common- wealth Immigration Acts, and those who react with alarm to one boatload of thin Pakistanis in their Bathetic blue suits, what they would say to an incursion of miiHond. Would even Africa receive them, or Canada, though these are the emptiest habitable spaces of the world? So most of them must slay. That iKiMg so, a moral obliga- tion heavy on the world to help when the cyclone strikes. Aid yet, eager though the world evidently is to rally to their aid, the right hand of help seems .'i.isver to get there in time, if at all. This time, things may be dif- ferent, though reports from the area sound unpromising. In. 1965, almost three weeks after the disaster, relief supplies were still reaching the outer islands only in shameful driblets. No there were special reasons for this. For days after the cyclone had subsided, no- lwdy in authority in Pakistan seemed fully aware of its ap- palling consequences. At that time the country was ruled by a dying dictatorship, its bureau- cracy already sinking into de- cadence. The armed forces which might have been used in Uie disaster area were other- wise engaged glowering acrass the frontiers at the arm- ed forces of India, with whom they were shortly Lo go to war. But even as the full scope ot the disaster slowly became ap- parent, it was difficult for out- siders in the country lo feel that Pakistani officials who should have taken action were as mov- ed as they ought to have been. The cyclone had coincided with an air crash in Egypt in which GIGANTIC RECORD SALE POPULAR 45's RECORDS ALBUMS Economy Popular CHILDREN'S ECONOMY ALBUMS CH IDREN'S DISNEYLAND ALBUMS 1.87 3 DAYS ONLY! THUR5. FRI. SAT. PLEASE N O T El Quantities ore lim- ited on cill Snlo Merclicintlisn. Open Till 9 p.m. Thursday and Friclny Nitjlill KRISGE'S IS ALWAYS FIRST WITH THi VIRY TOPS IN POPS Check These Super Specials 9 MTJE SPECIAL Only MOM and PADS SPECIAL Only SATISFACTION GUARANTEED OR MONEY CHEERFULLY REFUNDED 122 middle class Pakistanis, many of them journalist, had been Idllcd. The country's news- papers were filled with, a pro- longed keening over this loss and relatively UUIe space was given lo events at the Mouths of the Ganges. It was also difficult nol to suspect that national pride always a strong force in independcnt countries was exerting an excessive influence. Officials were to be heard pro- claiming stoutly that they were well able "to look after our though iliis was patently not the case. And when interna- tional relief agencies finally got their people and their supplies into East Pakistan, they seem- ed to get bogged down at towns on the perimeter of the real dis- aster area. A solitary British reporter made his way in a sequence of small country boats to the out- er islands. On the rim of them he found one young Pakistani official established in a small ship and in full charge of the relief and rescue operation. At first be gave firm assurances that all was going well or at least better than it had gone on similarly disastrous o c c a- sions when the British ruled the country. "Ten years lie said, "there was no concept of Gov- ernment help in cyclones." He seems to have been in touch with the truth, to judge by an account in The Times of 12 De- cember 1876 of the cyclone which had just killed almost a quarter of a million people. "This it, said, "it not .likely to give rise to much ma- terial distress among the peo- ple. Government relief centres have been opened and help wil] be given to those- who really need it. But no large sums of money will be spent and care will be taken to leave every- thing as far as possible to pri- vate trade." But over the next 24 horn's, file young official gradually broke down and confessed that he was entirely alone, was get- ting few supplies 'except those he could buy locaBy, had only four small boats to-carry what he had to islands 30 or 40 miles away, and had seen no doctors. "I. don't get enough and I don't get it in he said, "and when I get it I can't move It." Because these and other ob- serv a t i o n s were published abroad, the official was demot- ed by the dictatorship and then continually harassed. Since then, the very nature of. those in authority in Pakistan has changed. But it remains true that Pakistan herself Is far too poor a country to deal suc- cessfully with cyclones from ths Bay of Bengal and that inter- national agencies do not pene- trate swiftly enough to the seat of need. On the face of things, East Pakistan might seem to be extremely well equipped lo handle a rescue operation in this inaccessible region, every- where split by waterways which cannot be bridged because the land is always shifting. The country must have the biggest fleet of small boats in the world. Yet they cannot be switched to a rescue operation because they are vital to the everyday econ- omy of an overcrowded coun- try which cannot afford tlw slightest setback. But if the Pakistan author- ities are agreeable, there would seem to be no good reason why they and the international agen- cies should not have the really vita] relief supplies poised per- manently round the rim of the cyclone zone, with fleet of power driven, flat bottomed boats standing by to deliver them. T'te supplies U'.ein'seivcs are .simple enough food, water, reedicmas, vaccines, narsffLi, light building materials such as corrugated iron, small collap- sible boats (even the islands Lh.emsuives are criss crossed with unbridgcd waterways) and first aid kits to treat "the lac- erated arms and legs of people who have saved themselves by clinging to trees against the tearing rush of water. And on the islands I hern- selves, some thing eiiduring might be done, like setting up a cyclone shelter in vil- lage and sinking wells as deep as 300 feet. But in the aid, are we de- terred from doing this, or any- thing else to protect those who live at the Mouths of the Gan- ges, because know in our lienrts that UK worst you can do for Hast Pakistan is to keep all its massive population alive? Arc (he orthodox Muslims of llic islands right when llrey say that "God disposes" and that ills judgment, even His destruc- tive judgment, is always best? Certainly, lo those who know the region well, it must some- times Feeni lhaf for East Pak- istan the real tragedy is not death, but birth. (Written (or The llcralil and u The Observer, Lmitlou) J Unionize the armed forces? lic and Mail, Tomtit" YESTERDAY'S army marched on its stomach. Tomorrow's will march on its collective agreement if the '.'.iblic Service Alliance of Canada he; its It wants to unionize the armed force.7, adding the sen-icemen to the federal pub- lic servants it already represents. There will be, we should think, a certain amount of spluttering in high command brandy at the notion of bargaining in tho armed services. In spile of assurances that the right to strike is not one of the gains contemplated, there is bound to be that nag- ging fear in the minds of officers that it would come to that. Some day, when the crisp command came to our chaps to go in there and clean out the enemy, the initial response might be that of a shop steward clearing his throat. Could there be a refusal to cross any lines (enemy or or perhaps solidarity with the foe by way of international affilia- tion? Would the New Democratic Party en- joy a union dues checkoff? Claude Ed warm, president of Ite Public Service Alliance, would brush asidi- possibilities. His philosophy is summed mi in the observation: "The average man ID the armed forces needs someone to rcpre sent his interests when the treasury board and senior armed forces personnel gut to- gether lo lay out the pay scales." Sounds reasonable enough. But as soon as bargaining starts, a system is set ia motion that is not easily reversed. Tim adversary attitude normally found on both sides of a civilian bargaining table would assert itself, feeding on every session of bargaining until it became bitter resent- ment. Couldn't this blunt (lie sword of un- questionmg discipline? We can't dismiss out of hand the meriti of letting soldiers choose whom they wish to fight to the death, but under our present system of civilian control this would messy. Perhaps the exercise of collective bar- gaining rights by tlie rank and file would be all right as long as they didn't An it in the field and frighten the generals. Education costs controlled Hamilton VDUCATION Minister Davis, Ontario's real-life Dr. Frankenstein, finally has moved to control the education lax mon- ster. His decision to enforce a school-spend- ing ceiling, beginning in 1972, is as wel- come as it is necessary. Enforcercent won't be easy. The huge and powerful education bureaucracies, which have proliferated and grown into tax-de- vouring giants, won't readily accept a slow- down in their snowballing rate of expan- sion. The pattern has been abuildiag for 20 years. But taxpayers are reaching their limit and they need many other forms of gov- ernment service besides education. The re- sults of more than doubling school spending in less than a decade have not justified the expense. Not by a long shot. Despite the billions Ontario and its mu- nicipalities have Backed Into Uieir school systems, poverty remains a major prob- lem; so does unemployment. The educa- tional gold rash hasn't paid a fair dividend to the individual or to society; neither eco- nomic security, life quality nor living stan- dards on the whble have shows improve- ments commensurate with the costs of tha educational systems. No one would advocate returning to the notorious pre-1950 days of underpaid teach- ers, shabby schools and, too often inade- quate training for a technological existence. Spectator But almost unlimited spending isn't tht entire answer, either. Ontario has tried thai. There must be a saw-off and it should start with a cost ceiling. Like other goverarcent services and like industry, education ruust make the most of the teaching talent and facilities that can be provided within limits the taxpayers can afford. Clearly, the pub- lic cannot afford continued school tax in- creases on the scale established over the last decade. In the crunch lo conic, the government need all the public support it can gel, People, will be hit with the old argument used so often to justify unreasonable spend- ing: You can't afford NOT to give your chil- dren the Very Best in education. Well, taxpayers b'ave given school ad- ministrators far more than enough to pro- vide the very best and the bucket is just about dry. For its part, the government can't re- spoasibly leave die school boards maroon- ed. The department of education owes Iba boards some advisory help in showing them bow to cut costs without essen- tial programs and without depriving any child of educational necessities. By making tho effort that the ta_t crush demands, there's little doubt that Ontario can sustain and, possibly, improve Ilia pres- ent high standard of schooling without spending so much money. Watch SC Rocky From Site Red Deer Advocate a bit 01 political excitement, keep an eye on the Rocky Mountain House constituency and ite Social Credit nominat- ing meeting on December 1 i. For long time, as everybody knows, Kocky has been personal fiefdom of Mr. A. J. Hooke, dean of old time Social Credit, silver-haired orator of considerable charm, veteran cabinet-minister and of late, 1 party rebel. You could almost hear the gasps of In-, dignalion at a Socred meeting at Sylvan a fortnight ago when he chided Senator Man- ning for accepting some company director- ships. And who'll forget Mr. Hooke's per- formance at the Socred leadership conven- tion? His own defiant candidacy, hfa bris- tling attack on contemporary party phil- osophy and, of course, his current flirta- tions with Mr. Real Caouelte? In the Housa since then, he has sometimes sounded mora like an official Opposition Uian the Opposi- tion itself, All that is bound to b'ave disturbed some of his constituency bo could scarcely draw two dozen (o his last annual meet- ing. There ars unmistakable murrcers of discontent. Alfie's ready for a fight. Mr. Carl Jensen is ready to give him one. Who else is out there? More to the point, is thera anybody out there who could beat Alfie at the polls, regardless of who was the offi- cial or independent Socred candidate? If that wasn't interesting enough', watch the Conservatives at Kocky, too. If they could persuade Mayor Helen Hunley to ba their candidate, it would NDP Lead- er Grant Nolley is fond of saying a whole new ball game. Drugs in box Hamilton Spectator John Grilfiiij director of the Canadian Health Association, told the LeDain Cormista that the illicit use of by youth WES of despair. ?te that the commis- sion's fannt rcferenre expanded lo it to inquire itilo "the enormous problem of discouraged and alienated youth." This wt.i.ia call for a social soul-search- ing such HA Canada has seldom -seen bc- Dr. <3riffin has Uie right idea; there is an iniderlying sickness in society that deprives youth of its joy, visions, dreams ami ambitions, and, in some cases, warps and twists these into bitterness, hatred, con- tempt and desire to destroy. Nol surpris- ingly, a minority turns lo drugs to escape Ite slHxtdiness, tastelessness and often rank stupidities of life. It would need more courage than is gen- erally seen around these to open this Pandora's Box and ruthlessly examine its contents. Present day youth is the first genera- tion, for example, to be ful'y raised on tele- vision. 11 has watched for fevtraJ hours .1 day for years, all kinds of trash and drivel, crime and violence, and just plain idiocy, all of it aimed, not at the highest common factor of human intelligence, but ;il the low- est common denominator. And all this with parental approval. liven m tlus world o! hvjngroum shad- ows there is no thought continuity; every few minutes announcements and commer- cials break Ite train of thought. Small won- der most children find it difficult to con- centrate in .school for more than throe or four minutes at a lime. Teachers know (his. And in the last two decades education has changed, and not, in the opinion of some for the Iv'tter, TIw Lbc- crisis BIB in control; Uie lull results ars yet to be seen. Countless consider school "a waste of time." Some ot them find it laughable. Why? Again, most of the last two decades haa been what is euphemistically called "Uie age of affluence." Not for the young people of this generation to gaze enraptured into the window of Uie bakeshop, looking at Uie nickel custard pies they cannol afford to buy! No, it has been a case of "So you want a transistor (record player, sr cjw- Hung then get a transistor." Who wants lo toil and save, or needs when goodies come without il? Thus the relationship between work and reward; sweat and possessions, has been wrecked. No wonder some young people have con- tempt for ''lima clock and money. Dr. Griffin unerringly placed his finger on the real need, a social-conscience search- ing and reform. Reform is a perpetual need in human affairs, but certainly never more so than today. Mankind is adaptable, to a point, but il is obvious that some of our youth cannot adapt to pollution, shoddiness in standards, inflation and the lack of promise of a settled fulurc. This minorilv finds a precarious refugp in the world of drugs. The voices of intelligence r.mnof. m-iics litcmsclves lieard above tlic clamor of fools. Nor have they been able lo in recent years. If they had, our social health might be belter Uian it Is, and xve would bavo had a different and better education sys- tem, one that would have fired imagina- tion and ambition in youlh and made learn- ing what it should he, a pleasure. ijistcad, we have the Commis- sion, and drugs that, whatever the law mjght saj'i xs Isara la slay. ;