"We are the first to reach this settlement," says the reporter of one Telugu TV channel as he wades into water and talks to the cameraman. Behind him, a reporter of another English TV channel with his trousers hiked up wades into the river's edge near the road, turns around and begins reporting. This is reality.
Imagine this: As the flood waters swirl around habitations, the government accesses high-resolution satellite images and releases them in the public domain. Uses unmanned aerial vehicles to track survivors, uses cellphone triangulation to locate survivors (like they did for late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy) and uses internet resources and NGO network to send in the aid to avoid duplication in real time.
Far fetched? Not by a wide mark. But our politicos still swear by the aerial surveys where big men in a helicopter look down, see, come back, wring their hands in despair and ask for help: is Rs. 12,225 crore okay?
The only resource that comes closest to giving detailed information about the ebb and flow of the flood is the Global Flood Detection system created by the European Commission which categorised it at a magnitude of 6.625 on the Krishna (magnitude is defined as the number of standard deviations above normal flow conditions).
For all the technological wizardry of Indians, the only resources were just grouping and no information about the flood. On Twitter it was just newspaper reporters and TV channels peddling their own links and on Facebook there were three groups on Tuesday with 66 members (most of them from abroad). Of course there were comments like these: "feels people don't need aerial surveys by politicians. They need food, water and correct information."
The flood affected people might need community kitchens, mops to clear slush, medicines, drinking water and information. But then, what people want is not necessarily what people get. Right?