Mahatma Gandhi had termed the misery of the people as “unimaginable” and stepped in to mobilise over Rs 6,000 to help Keralites in 1924
In 2018 Kerala floods, 324 have lost their lives and more than 3,14,391 are living in relief camps. Earlier in 1924, it is alleged that the death toll of the great flood in the State stood at around 1,000.
Almost a century ago when floods ravaged Kerala, Mahatma Gandhi had termed the misery of the people as “unimaginable” and stepped in to mobilise over Rs 6,000 to help them.
Mahatma Gandhi, through a series of articles in his publications ‘Young India’ and ‘Navajivan’, had urged people of the country to generously contribute for the relief of flood-hit Malabar (Kerala).
Following Gandhi's request, people from various parts of the world including women and children had reportedly donated even their gold jewels and meagre savings to help the flood-affected people.
Many had skipped a meal daily or given up milk to find money to contribute to Kerala relief fund mobilised by Gandhi.
The 'Father of the Nation' had mentioned in one of his articles in ‘Navajivan’ about a girl who had stolen three paise to contribute to the relief fund. “Malabar’s misery is unimaginable,” Mahatma had said in the article titled 'Relief Work in Malabar'.
He said he had to confess that the response to his appeal had been more prompt than he expected. “It has been proved not once but many times that, by God’s grace, compassion does exist in the hearts of the people.”
The massive flood that lasted for around three weeks in July 1924 had crippled and submerged various parts of Kerala then including hilly Munnar, Trichur (Thrissur now), Kozhikode, Ernakulam, Aluva, Muvattupuzha, Kumarakom, Chengannur and Thiruvananthapuram.
It was commonly referred to as the 'Great flood of 99' as it had happened in the ‘Kolla varsham’ (Malayalam calendar 1099).
As per records, Kerala, which was administratively fragmented into three princely States (Travancore, Cochin and Malabar) during the time, had received excessive rains.
Just as now, all rivers were in spate and Periyar had flooded following the opening of the sluice gates of the Mullaperiyar dam. Freedom fighter, K Ayyappan Pillai has vivid memories about the 'Maha pralayam' (the great flood of ‘99).
Gandhi, who came to know about the deluge from the State’s Congress leaders, had sent them a telegram on July 30, 1924, asking them to assist with the relief measures of the government and also work in their way to help the affected people.
In another telegram, Gandhi said he was collecting money and clothes, and his only thought was about people who had no food, clothes and shelter.
In an article in ‘Navajivan’ dated August 17, 1924, he said, “A sister has donated her four bracelets and a chain of pure gold. Another sister has given her heavy necklace. A child has parted with his gold trinket and a sister with her silver anklets.”
Cut to 2018, a child parts with her piggy bank with money saved for her dream bicycle. Another donated part of her savings meant for her heart operation. 1924 to now, humanity still exists.
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Last Updated 9, Sep 2018, 9:02 AM