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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Indian students support home country


After thousands of Uttarakhand people were immobilized by the sweeping monsoons that struck the North Indian state in mid June, the Indian Graduate Student Association (IGSA) organized a local initiative in College Station for the injured state.
Heavy rainfall is not uncommon in India, usually occurring bi-annually. However, the rainfall in June was more than 400 percent of the amount expected in the mountainous region, resulting in a death toll of more than 1,000 and displacing more than 4,000 villagers, said Sunny Goklani, graduate student and vice president of IGSA.
Rural lands throughout the state are especially vulnerable during these “cloudbursts,” or heavy amounts of rainfall. Biren Parmar, an IGSA advisor, said this particular monsoon was the perfect storm. The heavy rainfall caused landslides that destroyed homes and trapped thousands of residents.
“A lot of rainfall dumps a whole lot of water in a region in a short amount of time,” Parmar said. “These regions are not able to sustain this water.”
The devastating effects of the monsoon were not limited to rural areas, affecting urban centers such as Kedarnath. The city is a popular pilgrimage site for those practicing Hinduism, leaving visiting tourists either swept away or stranded.
Goklani said the Indian Army force and non-governmental organizations are providing necessary relief such as evacuations, relocations, food and shelter, but this relief is temporary. IGSA chose to support the International Association of Human Values (IAHV), a non-governmental organization that provides a long-term relief strategy and will stay at least 6-8 months.
“There has to be something done for these people in the cold months – get them back on their feet,” said Manisha Chavda, a local IAHV volunteer who assists in collecting funds within Bryan-College Station.
Chavda said 100 percent of the money collected by the IAHV for the Uttarakhand relief effort will be directly utilized for aid.
With close ties to local IAHV volunteers such as Chavda, IGSA has assisted in reaching out to the community to participate in door-to-door outreach or to find venues in which to set up donation boxes.
They are also contacting local business for direct monetary donations or indirect donations such as selling raffle tickets, participating in profit shares or providing food for bake sales. The Indian Association and International Student Association have also shown support in the relief efforts.
“We are trying to support in any way possible,” Parmar said. “Any small amount is going to help.”

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