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United States should lead way in aiding India

Feb. 7, 2001

It has been over a week since a powerful earthquake shook India. With as many as 20,000 expected dead, more than 66,000 injured and thousands still missing, Indian officials need as much assistance as they can get from the rest of the world, and especially from the United States.

The Indian government announced that it would be seeking at least $1.5 billion in aid to help with clean up, medical care and reconstruction. While China has pledged $600,000 and the European Commission has pledged over $12 million in aid to India, the United States has only given $5 million in assistance so far. Even a Baylor student organization, the Indian Subcontinent Student Association, is sending aid to the area.

While India and the United States are not on the friendliest of terms, in a time of devastating crisis -- such as the earthquake that measured 7.7 on the Richter scale -- the United States, and any other countries for that matter, should set aside their differences and help one another. The humanitarian needs of India right now are far more important than any differences between the governments of the two countries. Pakistan, India's main rival and one of the United States' allies, has even offered support for the earthquake crisis.

Several countries, including the United States, have sent disaster-relief teams, and the World Bank and other international organizations are in India helping in the relief efforts -- but it is still not enough.

As a charter member of the United Nations and the most powerful country in the world, it should be the United States' responsibility to take the lead in helping India recover from the destruction of the earthquake.

India is the second-most populous country in the world, with more than 1 billion people.

If swift, effective actions are not taken to help India recover, it could lead to political and social unrest that could ultimately add to the destruction the earthquake has caused.

We are the leader in the world's peacekeeping organization -- the United Nations -- and in that role, we should do all that we can to help India in whatever way is needed. We should help because we have the resources to do so, but more importantly, because if we do not, perhaps no one will.