This month, Hurricane Phailin hit the eastern coast of India, resulting in the evacuation of over 800,000 people while knocking down power lines and washing away vulnerable homes in the area. It was 14 years ago when another cyclone hit the area and killed over 10,000 people.

The Bay of Bengal is highly susceptible to these destructive storms, as its churned out plenty of damaging cyclones in the past century. Over 12 million people live in the storm’s path and 17 deaths have been officially reported so far. The number is extremely low compared to past catastrophes and may signal to India’s preparation concerning such tragedies. The evacuation was done swiftly and prevented casualties.

Outside of the death toll and injuries that these storms have caused in the past, stability was one of the basic human needs that was hurt. With damage done to homes and communities along India’s coast, families in many instances have had to start over after losing crops, goods, and other valuables. Poverty is still a massive issue in India and is perpetuated with the conditioned use of the caste system, which still predominates in the country. With the many social injustices that are apparent when looking at India as a whole, the evacuation seems all the more impressive.

For once, a massive storm resulted in a well-communicated and well-executed evacuation that saved many more lives than past evacuations for other storms. This points to a sign of increasing stability and heavily prioritizing the safety of the country’s coastal citizens. If this mindset persists and human life is valued in all forms in India, the country’s infrastructure and future potential can expand into a justified state. There is still a lot of work to be done.

– Sagar Jay Patel
Sources: New York Times, CNN
Photo: Gas Buddy