Thai Cave Rescue CAN happen in India IF

The 12 boys and their soccer coach have been saved in the Thai Cave Rescue operation. It once again goes to show that the human determination and the will-power can surpass all odds. All through this crisis, there have been lingering questions – What would be the outcome if this happened in India?

The ending would be only one – The rescue mission has been successful. All our fellow countrymen have been saved.

Just that, we would have needed some changes from what happened in the Thai Cave Rescue, specific to our Indian context.

Unified Command

There are multiple agencies in India. At times, I wonder if the Indian Government / the agencies themselves are aware of their existence/objectives; leave aside the citizens. It does help to have numerous people at work, however, when they are busy in turf-war, one-upmanship, showing that they are more indispensable than the others – there will be no one in command.

Thai Cave Rescue had a Unified Command to decide on the course of action. A rarity in India.

(INS Sindhurakshak sank on 14 August 2013. It was salvaged on 6 June 2014, almost 10 months later. It was disposed of in July 2017, 3 years later.)

Indian Government

Indian Government would have called for a Cabinet Meeting, a Review Meeting, appointed a Panel, asked for Experts’ opinion – what all and what not. They would have made announcements, one after the other that everything is under control. They would not ask for external help, come what may, as if national pride is at stake.

Thai Cave Rescue had none of the Government meetings. Rather seemingly Government was not involved at all, except for asking experts’ help from across the globe and passing them over to the Unified Command. A rarity in India.

(An-32 disappeared on 22 July 2016. The search and rescue mission was called off on 15 September 2016. All 29 people on board were presumed dead. We could not search for even 2 months.)

Indian Political Leaders

Political Leaders across the spectrum would have made a bee-line for the site of the crisis. National to Regional, Big to Small, PM to CM to MP to MLA to Khap Panchayat Leaders, all would have come to survey, and thrown the rescue mission off-ground. After all, it is a career to be made with guaranteed sound bytes in prime time media.

Thai Cave Rescue had the King and the Prime Minister keeping vigil from a distance to ensure that Unified Command does not get distracted. A rarity in India.

(I am not sure of what actually happened in Kedarnath 2013 floods. I came across many news on the below lines. Narendra Modi having reportedly saved many a Gujarati from nature’s wrath in Uttarakhand in 2013. Almost like everybody saving their own, but not the Indians at large.)

Indian Media

Our Media does not ask questions about the issues, the concerns, the pain points; rather they come up with solutions directly. They are a know-all, with a divine right to intervene, have an opinion and create a rage. They would have had a 24*7 breathless coverage of the entire episode and went around with suggestions that would make a sane person go insane.

Thai Cave Rescue had media barred from the action scenes and gave out news bulletin, only as required from the Unified Command, with no loose talks. A rarity in India.

(Indian children do not die of getting stuck in caves, but they do die from falling in unused bore-wells. A recurring phenomenon. Does Government – Central or State have a standard operating procedure to bring out a child within 6-12 hours? Will any media ever highlight this except when a child has fallen?)

Decisiveness

Once they realized that the boys and their coach were inside the cave, they just kept searching. Even after they did not find anything after 8 days, they kept calling for professional help. Once found, they came up with options and then realized that there are no options, they took them out. The things could have gone wrong, rather not worked at all, but they went on – with no dithering.

Thai Cave Rescue was methodical, persistent and responsible – it was about being decisive. A rarity in India.

(Chennai 2015 floods was not a natural disaster but caused by the state bureaucracy’s failure to regulate the release of water from the reservoir in the outskirts of the city.)

Conclusion

To repeat, Thai Cave Rescue would have been successful in India as well. Just that, we need to iron out some issues.

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