Calamities galore

SOME countries seem to bear the brunt of natural calamities quite often. Indonesia, of late, has come in that unfortunate category where they were first hit by the tsunami in December 2004, then they had earthquakes and volcanoes — all volatile natural phenomena occurring quite frequently.

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Published: Fri 9 Jun 2006, 10:37 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:12 PM

Now, Mount Merapi has been showing increasing activity, emitting large gas clouds and sending more than 15,000 villagers fleeing to safety. Experts say the volcano has spewed out its largest gas cloud yet, and the Indonesian authorities are stepping up emergency preparations in case of a major eruption. Scientists fear that the volcano — which has been showing signs of erupting since early May — has been further destabilised by an earthquake nearby.

But for these calamities, Indonesia is a god-gifted country — half of the land is extremely green and fertile, with plenty of forests. producing fruits and vegetables. The country is also blessed with a high density of population, many of them in the youthful, productive age. With its natural and human resources, the country can indeed achieve a high growth rate, but its many natural calamities and its government seem to be pulling it down.

Spread across an archipelago of thousands of islands between Asia and Australia, Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population. Ethnically, it is highly diverse with more than 300 local languages. Apart from natural calamities, politically too the country has seen enough turmoil with the fall of President Suharto after 32 years in office and the loss of East Timor, besides other inter-ethnic and religious conflicts. Suharto ruled the country like a dictator, not answerable to his people. These political tensions, apart from natural, have plagued the country that could have otherwise had a lot going for it.

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