Forty one-year-old Kalyan JP, an investment banker based-out of Chennai, was among the several hundreds who were adversely affected by the floods that submerged the city earlier this month.
Kalyan, a member of a volunteer group that has been helping with relief and rescue operations being carried out in the city, has come up with an awareness campaign, which aims at reviving the local economy.
The initiative "Buy from Chennai for Chennai" looks beyond immediate rehabilitation of flood victims and focuses on putting the local economy back in shape.
"If you have a choice, go local, encourage the local community including local traders and manufacturers," Kalyan says.
He goes on to describe how he lost most of his belongings to the flood. "My house was completely inundated and the water damaged all the things inside, right from my cars to the refrigerator, television, microwave, etc."
But instead of opting for a Flipkart or Amazon (where he says he could have got a discount) to buy things, he chose to go to Vivek's, a local consumer electronics and home appliances retail chain. He says Vivek’s employs a large number of people and their warehouses were flooded.
"Unlike big organisations," he explains, "local businesses don't have a support system which can help them sustain if any of its arms stop functioning."
The group, which is also working on several other related programmes like sanitation, is currently discussing the ways in which the campaign can be taken forward. "We will definitely make use of media platforms to spread the word and interact with people," Kalyan says.
Sunder Ramu, a photographer who is also a part of the same volunteer group as Kalyan’s, feels that people will forget about the floods in a few months time, but for those affected by the floods, it will take a long time to recover.
That vehicles are running, movies have started functioning, restaurants are operating as normal might give the illusion that everything is okay, when it is actually not, he says.
"This initiative will get local vendors back on their feet," he says, adding that he too will be starting 'Flood Karma', an initiative to recycle materials lost in the flood which will be auctioned next year to help victims.