Monstrous Floods Kill over 1,000 in South Asia: The Global System Behind the Misery

August 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Floods in Mumbai

A flooded street in Mumbai, India on August 29. Photo: AP

You would not know from American network news that 41 million people in India, Bangladesh and Nepal are right now suffering from the devastation and floods caused by extreme monsoon events. (Monsoons are seasonal heavy wind and rain events that are common in South Asia.) Over the past week, 1,200 people have died and millions are now homeless. One-third of the entire country of Bangladesh is now under water! The whole region of South Asia is in a severe crisis.

According to the International Federation of Red Cross, 8.6 million people have been affected and 715,000 homes have been destroyed in Bangladesh alone. A spokesperson for the Red Cross in India told the Independent newspaper in the UK, “People have been shaken by the huge flooding. This is an area where people are used to a bit of flooding but people said this is on a different scale... There was no warning and downpours started one night. People had to escape and fled their homes with only what they could carry. People are on survival mode and they are only thinking about tomorrow but reconstruction will be slow.”

In the vast countrysides of South Asia, life depends on subsistence farming. Now tens of millions of small farmers have literally nothing left. Homeless and landless, many will likely end up living in the hugely overpopulated cities of the region, with no prospect of finding jobs as the economies of these countries spiral further downward due to the devastation.

India’s most populous city, Mumbai, has 18 million residents. At least half of them live in sprawling slums, with generations continuing to be driven from the impoverished rural areas. Now these millions of people are under water, with roads, schools, and already crumbling public services out of operation.

Flooding in Bangladesh

Houses in Bangladesh under water after flooding. Photo: Bangladesh Department of Disaster Management

This scale of destruction and human suffering is unimaginable. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Over 163 million people are packed into approximately 55,600 square miles. (Compared to the state of Texas, in Bangladesh over six times the number of humans live on less than one-quarter of the land area.)

As is the case with Harvey—in Texas and Louisiana—there is evidence that the extreme storms that have hit the region this summer have been made worse through climate change driven by the global capitalist system. (See here for example)

On top of that, this is a region of the world where the capitalist economies and governmental structures serve and are dependent on the profit-junkie global imperialist order. That has meant violent suppression of the oppressed, and laws and development that facilitate intensified globalized exploitation of peasants and workers. These regimes are extremely corrupt, carry out torturous repression, and the persecution of ethnic minorities.


Bangladesh is the epitome of a country where imperialism has warped the economy, development, culture and conditions of life. There are 3.5 million workers toiling in garment sweatshops to produce clothes for America and Europe, an industry that provides 80% of the Bangladesh’s exports. 85% of these workers are women. The megacity of Dhaka is home to over 18 million people in the whole metropolitan region. The huge slums of Dhaka have no modern sanitation and sewerage facilities. Makeshift latrines empty directly into waterways. The yearly monsoons regularly bring floods that mean people are literally living in shit, and this year’s larger than ever storms will only leave more millions of people teetering on the edge of existence. Tens of thousands of people in Bangladesh, including 50,000 children, die every year of preventable waterborne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, and typhoid.

These are societies in permanent turmoil, and the people of this region suffer from all kinds of dislocation and misery driven by the workings of imperialism. For example, just in the last week, close to 20,000 of persecuted ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) have fled across the border into Bangladesh, seeking refuge from massacres by the Myanmar military.

These governments are not in any way equipped to provide for the victims of such disasters, let alone the everyday suffering of billions of people in the region.

It is a region of the world that cries out for genuine revolution.



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