The recent rescue of 41 workers trapped inside tunnel in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand brought entire India together like never before. It is hard to recall any such incident in past 70 years, other than cricket matches, when people from north South East and West of India were tethered together in an unifying spirit, awaiting the rescue of trapped workers.
One can attribute it to Modi era nationalism, which has gained traction post 2014. People who were earlier committed to regional, linguistic or caste identities have started identifying themselves as Indians. Usually this process is slow, but a significant change in national mood can be felt when compared to 10 years ago.
A similar tide of nationalist spirit was observed when India successfully landed Chandrayan on the South Pole of Moon. Let’s compare it with national fervour upon successful mission of Mangalyan in 2013 and 2014, which was no less a feat technologically. It barely made the headlines for more than 1 day.
An argument can be made that back then we had less Internet penetration and we relied on awfully slow 2G/3G connection speed. But the crowd used to cheer during cricket matches, even in those days. Yet the same cheer was missing for other national events.
Coming back to the Tunnel rescue incident, this was not an ordinary achievement considering the massive mobilization of various Government agencies and their working together symbiotically. NDMA, Railways, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Mining, Ministry of Defence, Uttarakhand Government all were working in cohesion to rescue the 41 workers, trapped in the debris. It is hard to find a similar example of inter agency coordination in past. Needless to say, that it happened only after direct involvement of Prime Minister’s Office.
While Government was working on the rescue operation, common people were seen praying for safe rescue since November 13th. Locals in Silkyara were reported praying to the local deity Baba Bokh Nath. They were often joined by Yamunotri MLA Sanjay Dobhal and Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami. Even Prime Minister Modi offered prayers for rescue of the trapped workers, while attending Koti Deepotsavam festival at NTR Stadium in Hyderabad. A special prayer was also organized for this at Mahakal Temple in Ujjain. International Tunneling Expert Arnold Dix, who was roped in during initial days, started his work by praying to Goddess Kali.