Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why Sandy matters - to me.

The thing is, a hurricane on the East Coast of the United States *is* a bigger deal than a lot of other natural disasters in a lot of other places in the world (not just India). And it’s not always about numbers, it’s not about 100 people dying versus a mere 16. It’s not because American life is more precious.  It is a bigger deal because it is a bigger deal, as deals go. And maybe if you sat down to think about it, you’d get my point. If you got all your information in place, you’d see things from my perspective. Maybe if I had all the facts, I'd see your point too.   

It’s a bigger deal to me because – there’s no one in my world who doesn’t know someone who lives on the East Coast. It’s a bigger deal because the impact on the world economy will be something to reckon with. It’s a bigger deal to me because it directly impacted my job. It’s a bigger deal in India because it directly impacted a LOT of jobs in the financial world and in the BPO industry.  It is news, not because of the people who died, but because two of the biggest stock exchanges in the world shut down trading for two full days.  
[Corollary: I’d have expected NYSE and the Nasdaq to have better disaster recovery plans and kept trading going through the storm. But they didn’t. So this storm matters more.]

It’s not that I don’t value human life, I do, and it’s as important or unimportant to me wherever it exists.  And yes – all things remaining the same – 100 people dying is a bigger deal than 16 dying. All things remaining the same.  But the truth, and you know it as well as I do – is that if the same storm happened in Boise or in Melbourne, Australia – you and I, sitting in India – would not care as much. This is New York. It’s the financial capital of the world. Things come to a standstill there –it impacts all of us.

So no, being more interested in Hurricane Sandy than the Assam floods is not a sign that I’m a yank sell-out who isn't patriotic or that I can’t understand basic numbers. It just matters to me more because of my lifestyle, my job, my people, my interests. Thinking it’s only about death-toll, is perhaps the most closed-minded way of looking at it.

And of course, you know, maybe we need to start talking more about climate and less about the weather now.