DC Edit | Kochi stampede was avoidable

The stampede that occurred at the Cochin University of Science and Technology taking the lives of three students and a young electrician who was studying while looking for a job opportunity was an avoidable tragedy.

A few survivors are in bad shape with at least two in intensive care, and it is hoped medical care might help save the lives of students taking up academics with the hope of making a good career and life for themselves.

What was supposed to be a fun evening at a tech festival inside an amphitheatre turned tragic for so many. It is said that stampedes are a very rare event in the state of Kerala with its high literacy rate and discipline readily observable at places and events that attract a very large number of people.

The Kochi event was reported to have happened because of a sudden rain spell in the time of the northeast monsoon that pushed several people to seek the indoor sanctum quickly. That there was only one entry point to a mass event tells its own tale of how little attention is paid to safety.

A delay in opening the entry point and the steep stairs leading down into the amphitheatre have been touted as what caused the stampede. Of course, it can be said that Indians are not known for their patience in dealing with queues. It is a cultural failure that queues are viewed as an obstacle rather than a necessity.

The state was told to be better prepared after last month’s blast at a Jehovah's Witnesses convention, but at least that body is known to run daily safety drills for crowd management, an exercise that is hardly envisaged as a safety measure in the country.

Being lackadaisical about safety is a national trait. The country with the world’s largest population experiences a myriad such crush of people, particularly at religious festivals, which can be put down to a particularly Indian distaste for order and discipline in confined, or even open spaces, where several people tend to gather.

How costly indiscipline proved might help serve as a warning if Indians can look at this tragedy to draw a lesson in managing spaces crowded with people.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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