Share, Don’t Gag – on land subsidence in Joshimath

Source: This post is created based on the article “Share, Dont Gag”, published in The Times of India on 16th January, 2022.

Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 3, Disaster Management

News: The National Disaster Management Authority has ordered government institutions and officials to not share any information about land subsidence in Joshimath.

The order will stay in force till the final report of NDMA’s expert group is submitted.

The order is followed by the satellite report of ISRO that indicates subsidence of about 9 cm in seven months.

NDMA’s gag order is the second such instance in the recent past. A few weeks back ICAR issued a similar one for GM mustard.

What are the issues with restricting the information low?

First, NDMA’s report will come after a long time. The information vacuum left by the government will be filled by sources that can be untrue.

Second, satellite pictures of the region are not limited to ISRO’s, and plenty of foreign scientists are working on the Joshimath subsidence.

Third, global experience of Covid teaches us that stringent restrictions on the information flow is self-defeating.

Fourth, debates and disagreements expand the boundaries of knowledge and restricting information and debate trigger suspicion.


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