An assignment from ENGL 105 at UNC, among one of the more moronic of their universal requirements

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To whom it may concern:

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, affecting Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand most heavily, has rubbled the infrastructure of each country that it has influenced. We will focus our attention on India as it was one of the countries most heavily affected and due to the rampant poverty in those areas affected, it is in the most need of our assistance. It is in our interest to maximize the effect of our aid through careful planning based on anthropological data and currently required aid, so we will thoroughly explore the effects that religion, cultural customs, and general attitude play in India.

With over 1.69 million people displaced by the destruction of the Tsunami, it is a primary interest to provide these people with proper housing as the population density in the affected parts of India prior to the earthquake was already high enough to be an epidemical hazard, which is made only worse by the tropical climate of the affected areas. The deliverance of aid in the form of housing does need to following anthropological guideline: due to the fact that the average family size in India is 4.8, it’s important that housing relief appropriately size the tents/shelters to accommodate at least 5 people. Additionally, the more epidemiological recommendation that living quarters are as low density as possible must also be taken into account, while still permitting admission to refugees and a possible quarantine of those who may be plagued by a contagious illness. Such relief will provide the affected peoples with a place to rebuild around, which is arguably more important than other aid such as food due to the ease with which it may be provided (simply marked tents are sufficient), the one-time assurance (shelter for a family can last as long as it may be needed), and finally it remedies the intangible psychological trauma accompanied by the destruction of one’s long time home.

In order to maximize the utility of these shelters, it is essential that a possible sensitivity to mixing of factions be accounted for. Because the affected portions of India contain religious denominations that are “sensitive to cultural diversity” (, it’s important that separation of the appropriate groups be unofficially enforced. For instance, it is highly recommended that Muslims not be expected to be in close quarters with Hindus as tensions would likely be worsened and it is possible that conflict may arise due to the existing lack mixing between members of the two religions (this can be observed in living patterns throughout the state). Similarly, Sea Gypsies are not expected to be in close quarters with any other class of people as Hindus, Muslims, and all other denominations and classes view Sea Gypsies in a negative light and do their best to avoid them. Although it may be expected that religious discrimination is usually neglected in times of great struggle, it has been claimed by leaders of certain denominations that the origin of the disaster is divine punishment which enables the ascription of the disaster to a group of people, which would only increase the chances of conflict.

A high second priority is the delivery of food to the affected areas. It is recommended that aid of this form by screened to ensure the absence of beef products in the food as well as in the food’s production, as all regions of India include many Hindus whose religion strictly restricts them from the consumption of beef products (Puretravel 03/3). It is also in the affected people’s interest that the sources of food be as renewable as possible. That is, for regions whose agricultural damage was reasonably low, aid may be in the form of seeds to grow plants with fruit or, more likely, in regions whose aquatic life was unaffected or whose access to marine animals has remained the same, fishing utilities should be provided to provide not only instant relief but also long term relief. Ensuring this is important because it allows continual instant relief to be provided to those individuals who may not be able to provide themselves with food despite possessing all the necessary utilities due to the fact that they were so economically, socially, and environmentally devastated that they have been rendered incapable of providing for themselves. While it may be difficult to provide relief in a similar diet to what existed before the disaster, it is preferred that regions whose main source of food was fish (it is estimated that 66% of the fishing fleet and fishing infrastructure was destroyed, which were an important source of food for local markets, FAO of UN), continue to receive some amount of fish as maintaining as much consistency as possible with daily life before the disaster may diminish the psychological effects.

Damage to the national economies of the affected regions of India on the world stage is believed to be small as the two most heavily affected sectors, fishing and tourism, makeup a very small fraction of the GDP. Consequently, it is not advised that economic aid be a priority at this early stage in the relief effort. However, infrastructure rebuilding for the purposes of providing instant relief for the affected peoples (regardless of whether such infrastructure has any relevancy past the incipient moments of the relief effort) is a ternary priority.

Counterbalancing the negative affects of the tsunami on the environment, and consequently the people of the nations, should not be underestimated. Previously arable land may have been left sterile by a layer of salt deposited by the far-reaching waves of the tsunami. Providing instant food relief for those who may have previously relied on crops as a food source is highly encouraged as previously alternative means for obtaining food may no longer be available due to the destroyed local market.

With the destruction of homes comes the loss of any and all items that each individual was not carrying on their person. Providing the essentials out of these items is important. Namely aid in the form of attire should be provided because most if not all clothing for individuals was likely destroyed by the tsunami. Donations are an acceptable source of this aid, but it is essential, not only to maximize their use but in some case necessary for any utility to be obtained whatsoever, to match the acceptable guidelines of dress as determined by an anthropological analysis of the affected regions. For example, in all regions of India, it is not socially appropriate for either women or men to wear shorts in public areas ( Travelers to India who wear shorts are often stared at in public, which is likely the case because the surrounding people feel uncomfortable by the skin exposure and desire for the new-comer to learn that it’s not acceptable. Even dresses that end at or above the knee are socially unacceptable and will yield a response similar to that of shorts. Additionally, caucasians are rare in many parts of India and caucasian travelers often report looks similar to those reported by people who wear shorts and dresses. Consequently, it is advised that aid relief workers abide by these customs and be made aware that they may experience looks that make them uncomfortable due to their skin color but that they should not be alarmed.

Similarly modest attire (long pants, long sleeve shirts, etc) should be the only thing permitted for donation as the transportation of unusable attire would be a gross waste of resources. Matching the dress prior to the disaster is always preferable, and so donations of Saris, an incredibly widespread form of dress for women in India, by manufacturers or direct donators is preferred to mostly any form of dress for women. Due to the textile makeup of Saris (a long piece of cloth that is folded to narrow width), it is also a viable option to invest donated money in cheap cloth to allow for the construction of Saris by refugees.

In addition to respecting dress customs, the committee should ensure that much of the donated money is spent on efforts that allow the cultural customs of the Indian people to be respected. This will assist in a reduction of the psychological after-effects of the disaster, which may assist efforts to relieve other aspects of life that may be more essential (such as providing shelter and food). For example, it is tradition for the body of the dead to be buried in many of the affected countries and a missing body or the unavailability of resources to bury a body may cause significant distress to the family members of the deceased. If it is not believed that tradition is a sufficient reason to dedicate scarce resources to this endeavor, the burying of bodies also reduces the possibility of a rampant epidemic, which is a certainly pragmatic issue to be avoided.

Another salient, practical issue is public water. Although the major water sources of India can normally be tolerated by its inhabitants (this is something to note because visitors of the nation are often unable to), the rampant ground pollution and unsanitary disposal of human waste very likely polluted the public water after the Tsunami. As a result, it is a primary effort of the relief group that fresh, uncontaminated water be accessible to those who previously relied on public water. Therefore, bottled water (an import that’s not uncommon to India) should be provided to all the affected people as their main source of water. Water purifiers (as long as they also remove the most common diseases that may be a secondary result of the Tsunami) may also be distributed as well as instructions on what are appropriate sources of drinking water.

In conclusion, it is in the interest of the relief group to focus primarily on providing appropriate shelter with separate quarters for religious and class divisions, as well as direct food in accordance by what’s permitted by the various religion restrictions of the nations or utilities for personally developed food, and finally attire that does not violate cultural customs. Monetary and donation resources should be spent in the most cost effective way that will also ensure that the culture of the people affected is respected.

Works Cited
United nations in thailand. (2012). Retrieved from (n.d.). Retrieved from
Pearce, F. (2005, Jan 05). Tsunami's water may leave islands uninhabitable. Retrieved from
Staff Writer. "Food Supply and Food Security Situation in Countries Affected by the Asia Tsunami" Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 14 January 2005.
Puretravel. (03/0). Retrieved from 
Some “do’s” and “don’ts” for travel (survival) in india. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Siliconindia Travel. (n.d.) Retrieved from