Home > Uncategorized > (View) Development! A cherished goal? What the Attabad disaster can teach us

(View) Development! A cherished goal? What the Attabad disaster can teach us


The devastating natural disaster that struck parts of central Hunza about a month ago was the most gruesome calamity in the recorded history of Hunza valley. About thirty, men, women, and children died in this single incident. The debris from the landsliding filled the Hunza river gorge thus blocking all the physical link between Gojal and and other parts of Hunza. In a great irony of nature the blockade of the river is slowly turning into a beautiful natural lake, albeit slowly engulfing low-lying hamlets that dot along the river up to Gulmit.
The loss of human life was beyond doubt very sad but the slow misery this disaster is brining upon those who were lucky enough to survive is increasing day by day. The settled people of Ayeenabad, Shiskat and other small valleys are loosing their property, their small patches of arable land is going under wanter , they have already lost livestock, enough fruit trees and apricot trees have already been damaged.
Now if we remember a time when the mantra of development was on everybody’s lips: prince and pauper alike. Politician, social scientist, religious scholar, farmer, businessman and everybody was talking the talk of ‘development’ when these NGOs were sprouting a decade and a half ago. During those days Ahmedabad was the model valley for its excellent social capital, habits of savings and banking, inclination of the parents to ensure the education of all their children and above all a spirit of self-help and volunteerism. Ahmedabad Tanzeem run by Subedar Faraj was one of the best performing ‘dehi tanzeem’ in the region, claiming the highest amount of savings for a mid-sized tanzeem in the area.
Today, all the piecemeal development achieved over the course of three decades lies waste in the debris of Attabad slide. I now wonder if the experiment of development and the dream of a stable, progressive, and fastly adapting society has gone sore. Or may be I am sounding too harsh, so let us put it this way by saying that the model of development sought in Hunza is facing its greatest challenge and test of the time.
I wonder that instead of focusing on building and nurturing institutions the practitioners of development should have focused more on building the minds of the people. If were able to promote a culture of critical reasoning, of encouraging every body to use their talents to find solutions to their local problems, then I think the people Hunza would have been able to cope with this disaster far more effectively.

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