India has launched a massive aid mission to its earthquake-hit neighbor Nepal
Disaster relief troops and tons of food, water and medicine have been flown in
As the earth shook in Nepal, tremors were felt over the border in India as well.
It was a call to action: Within hours of the first 7.8 magnitude quake, India began planning a massive cross-border aid mission.
With each hour, the scale of the devastation in Nepal became clearer – some 3,862 people are known to have died so far – and plans in India, where 72 people were also killed, got bigger.
On Sunday alone, India delivered 187 tons of supplies, including 50 tons of water, 22 tons of food and 2 tons of medicine. And there will be more to come.
Hundreds of trained disaster relief troops landed in Kathmandu and quickly got to work.
With each flight in, there was a flight back out, packed with Indians and other nationals escaping to safety: 2,000 and counting have fled so far.
By Monday, India was in full-scale crisis mode: From airports across India, planes flew in loaded with aid, and trucks made the trip by land from India’s east, aiming for more remote areas.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a special effort over Nepal. He has visited the country twice in his first year in office.
And on Sunday, in his national radio address to the nation, he said Indians needed to “wipe the tears of every Nepali, hold their hands, and stand with them.”
It all highlights the more proactive role taken by India in recent months.
Just weeks ago, India flexed its military muscle to rescue Indians and other nationals from conflict-torn Yemen. Now, it is taking the lead in Nepal.
Some might say India’s friendship is a signal for the other big country that shares a border with Nepal: China.
A display of hard power, perhaps to achieve enduring soft power in the region.
But in times like this, help is always welcome. First there’s the immediate search and rescue operation, and then the long process of rebuilding work.
Nepal will need India’s friendship – as well as China’s – for many long months ahead.