social policy

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11

Conflicting Paradigms and the Danger Discourse: Re-thinking India's Disaster Management Framework in the Post-Tsunami Era

Adoption of the 'Paradigm Shift' approach and enactment of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DMA), were two major initiatives by the Government of India, in recent years. The intention was aimed at evolving a comprehensive disaster management framework that would meet the new disaster realities that were overwhelming India. These new approaches were sought to recognize preparedness, prevention, and mitigation more integratedly rather than the previous emphasis on post-event responses. The subsequent adoption of the national vision by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) also called for the adoption of similar broader conceptions: such as holistic, proactive, and multi-disaster approach. Despite these seemingly drastic shifts, there yet remains a lack of clarity both in terms of key definitions and in the DMA's overall perspective. In particular, the notion of a 'technology-driven strategy' (mentioned in the national vision adopted by NDMA) continues to dominate. In other words, It can be pointed out that the lack of definitional clarity along with an overtly technocentric approach turns the DMA into a strange document of conflicting and often times contradictory formulations.

Towards highlighting the above, this essay discusses some of the aspects involved in the damage assessment and recovery programmes that were sought to be implemented following the Tsunami of 26 December 2004 in India. A notable feature of which was the fact that many government interventions in the post-Tsunami phase were lopsided in favour of using an 'exotic methodology', derived from experiences largely from Latin America and Caribbean countries. Consequently, several of the initiatives intended to address the Tsunami impacts, which are pointed out, were framed as solution-defined problems, to be resolved by experts and aid-giving agencies rather than as responses forged for local and specific social contexts. In part, moreover, this official blindness to ground realities in the Tsunami affected areas was brought on by the Indian government's administrative persistence in uncritically accepting hazardcentric developmentalism. Thus, many of the recovery measures were slanted and saturated by discourses that linked ideas about natural disasters and vulnerability with agendas for development that invariably tended to be unmindful of local contexts and particularities. Put differently, the post Tsunami assessment and recovery programmes in India reveal and reflect a strong technocentric and socially narrow bias, that furthermore continues to prevail in the so called 'paradigm shift' approach.

This essay argues the above in three parts. The first discusses the emergence and the shaping of disaster and vulnerability studies as development discourses. The central claim here is that, as concepts, disaster and vulnerability were initially sought to be theorised and treated as adjuncts to the development discourse and therefore retained a strong technical flavour rather than an emphasis on societal and historical process. The second part suggests that India's 'paradigm shift' approach and Disaster Management Act, 2005, were formulated overwhelmingly within a hazardcentric-technocratic rubric; disasters thus could be treated as 'events' rather than processes and thereby  were aimed to be checked or controlled by technoccentric solutions. The third part explores the influences of this hazardcentric approach in shaping government interventions and actions towards mitigating the social and economic effects of Tsunami of December 2004. In sum, many of the official failures in post-Tsunami relief and recovery operations could in part be traced to many of the technocentric assumptions that underpinned and informed recovery and assessment interventions.

Disaster and Vulnerability as Development

In the recent past 'vulnerability' has emerged as a popular theory in disaster studies and there is growing consensus among policy makers and planners that improper development increases vulnerability to disasters. The policy process requires a complex, evolving, and dynamic understanding of the assumptions involved in these theories, the ideologies guiding these principles, and their interactions with human as well as natural environments.

The term 'development' was popularized after the World War II. Gregory Bankoff elaborates that after the Second World War western theorists formulated new kinds of policies to solve the social and economic problems of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Based on 'organicist notions of growth' and having 'a close affinity with teleological views of history', a linear theory of progress from traditional to modern and backward to advanced, called 'development', was put forward as a solution. The concept of 'development' labelled most non-Western nations as underdeveloped, 'in which poverty in all its manifestations has replaced disease as the principal threat to Western well-being now defined in terms of values and lifestyle', and 'the cure to underdevelopment is modernization through the agency of Western investment and aid'.1 Arturo Escobar explains development as the following.

Development was and continues to be for the most part a top-down, ethnocentric and technocratic approach that treats people and cultures as abstract concepts, statistical figures to be moved up and down in the charts of 'progress.' Development was conceived not as a cultural process (culture was a residual variable, to disappear with the advance of modernization) but instead as a system of more or less universally applicable technical interventions intended to deliver some 'badly needed' goods to a 'target' population. It comes as no surprise that development became a force so destructive to third world cultures, ironically in the name of people's interests.2

Escobar further claims that through the politics of expert knowledge, certain forms of knowledge acquired the status of truth. Development was formed historically around an artificial construct of underdevelopment, where underdevelopment as a subject of political technologies for planners, experts and civil servants sought to erase poverty, illiteracy, and hunger through interventions, but that ended up instead in multiplying it to infinity. It does not mean to totally defy the benefits of development, but the argument is that 'developmentalism' created more problems than it solved.3 More recently, in an interesting observation of giving aid to developing countries, Actionaid, an international NGO, made the following claim.

At present, two thirds of donor money is 'phantom' aid that it is not genuinely available for poverty reduction in developing countries. Failure to target aid at the poorest countries, runaway spending on overpriced technical assistance from international consultants, tying aid to purchases from donor country's own firms, cumbersome and ill-coordinated planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting requirements, excessive administrative costs, late and partial disbursements, double counting of debt relief, and aid spending on immigration services all deflate the value of aid.4

With this background of 'developmentalism', contemporary perception of disaster studies has evolved from a simple perception of a disaster as a 'calamity' or 'catastrophe' to the complex notion of 'vulnerability' or 'complexity'. The 'hazardcentric–technocratic' approach was the first paradigm of disaster discourse which had been popular in disaster research till the late 1970s. The most important aspect of this approach was that the focus of disaster research was on the response aftermath of a disaster rather than before. Claude Gilbert argues that this hazardcentric behavioural paradigm is based on a 'pattern of war approach' in which catastrophes or calamities are viewed as external 'agents' attacking human communities. This approach was originated in the US at the height of the Cold War when research funding by government institutions was primarily made for understanding the behaviour of people to possible air raids. Therefore, the nature of the 'market' prevailing at that time reflected the scientific approach adopted by institutions for disaster research.5

Reflecting upon the focus on post-disaster response in this approach, Kenneth Hewitt explains that in response to nature and the occurrence of extremes in geophysical processes or calamities, the recommended scientific actions were geophysical monitoring, forecasting, and direct engineering or land-use planning in relation to natural agents. Thus, technical and respective institutional advancement were the main counterforces to these forces of nature which were composed of three main areas. First, there was an overemphasis on monitoring and scientific understanding of geophysical processes (geological, hydrological, atmospheric, etc.) to make accurate predictions of natural hazards. Second, a unified language had emerged for planning and managerial activities to deal with these natural hazards in the form of flood control works, cloud seeding, avalanche defences, zoning, building codes, etc. Third, due to lack of access to products of modern geophysical science and management technology, most communities and individuals used to get involved in this process only during emergencies.6 Keith Smith explains that due to geophysical extremes as the causal factors, nature is to be blamed in the hazardcentric approach, and the effective cure is proposed as the control and prediction of natural events.7 Thus, the two aspects of physical corrective engineering and post-event emergency responses were the main forces which restricted the scope of disaster studies to merely rescue, relief, and rehabilitation.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, on the bases of experience in Third World countries, social scientists started questioning the hazardcentric approach which merely addressed physical vulnerabilities or other direct side-effects of disasters through technocratic solutions. The new approach called 'vulnerability' assumed that disasters are not merely the result of accidental factors or unwanted inevitable natural phenomena, rather, their occurrence depended more on social characteristics of societies. By questioning the environmental determinism and adopted language of accidents in the hazard-centric approach, Hewitt argued that in most natural disasters damages are due to characteristic features of the places (societies) of their occurrence rather than accidental features, and, therefore, preparedness and awareness for natural fluctuations to tackle risk, pressures, and uncertainties depend more on the 'ordinary life' rather than rareness and scale of fluctuations. Thus, the root causes of occurrence of disasters actually depend on structural factors such as poverty and social processes which make people and societies vulnerable to disasters.8

Similarly, highlighting the importance of community and human relations, Gilbert argues that disasters are the result of the underlying logic of the community and are experienced as a process rather than an effect of an external 'agent' called a hazard; thus, the conceptual framework of a disaster is the result of upsetting human relations.9 Further in-depth enquiry of structural components revealed the complexity of man–nature interactions. It was realized that 'vulnerability' has very complex interrelations with material practices and ideological discourses existing in the society. Due to the highly unpredictable or uncertain nature of these complex interactions and their final outcome, the new paradigm is called the 'complexity' or 'uncertainty' paradigm. A shift from 'positivism'10 towards 'constructivism'11 was observed during the mid-1980s and early 1990s. The emerging debates of globalization, Global Environmental Change (GEC) and 'reflexive modernity'12 popularized the notion of 'mutuality' or 'complexity'.

Dorothea Hilhorst argues that 'structural theory mainly looked at society to explain people's vulnerability to disaster', while 'mutuality' explains 'mutual construction of society and environment'; thus, 'people are not just vulnerable to hazards, but hazards are increasingly the result of human activity'. Therefore, the new paradigm of 'mutuality' is different from the 'structural paradigm' (which reduces causes of disaster vulnerability to a limited number of root causes). The concept of mutuality has a close affinity with complexity theories that lay an emphasis on the unpredictability of causal chains and social change. Hilhorst further explains that due to the unpredictable and non linear nature of man nature mutual interactions, complexity theories argue in favour of 'self-organization'—'which means that through the interactions within systems and between systems and their environments, systems undergo spontaneous self-organisation'.13 Similarly, indicating uncertainty as a production of complex societies rather than as a result, Gilbert explains that it is not the absence of communication or information in modern societies causing uncertainty, rather, anarchical profusion of information affects the system of meaning which makes uncertainty inevitable. Gilbert further describes the uncertainty paradigm in the form of three points: first, the linkages of disaster and uncertainty cannot be defined through causes and effects; second, due to the growing complexity of modern communities, uncertainty is the result of the upsetting in the system of meaning rather than inability to solve problems of accidents or dysfunctions; and third, a disaster is the inability of actors to define a serious or worrying situation through traditional understanding and symbolic parameters. Therefore, Gilbert further writes, as 'for a community, disaster means the loss of key standpoints in common sense, and the difficulty of understanding reality through ordinary mental frameworks'.14 Thus, above-mentioned paradigms of the disaster studies, though appear one after the other, but could not actually replace old ones completely because of the various ways of looking at disasters by the actors involved in such practices. Therefore, the conflict among the dominant features of various paradigms can still be observed in practices.

Despite such an improvement on the traditional understanding of disasters, the debate over the definition of a disaster is not yet resolved due to the influence of various conflicting notions of a disaster. In a similar observation Wolf R. Dombrowsky argues that generally the definer's perception of a problem (a disaster) and their intended methods of solving it, guide the structure of their definitions of a disaster. Consequently, the circulating definitions are the 'programmatic declarations' of those (organizations/individuals) who define them; and, therefore, three lines of arguments need special attention while defining a disaster. First, how language structures the perception of the reality such as describing disasters by 'animistic thinking'15 (describing nonhuman occurrences in terms of human activities), where the expression that 'a disaster strikes' distinguishes between a disaster and effects. In reality 'disasters do not cause effects', but actually 'the effects are what we call a disaster'. The need is to keep our minds away from 'metaphoric, pseudo-concrete, magical and animistic thinking'. Second, 'how reality is transformed into the mechanics of problem-solving' that is the problem-solving capabilities of the organizations are guided by the available solutions in hands that have been successful in the past. Thus, instead of scanning for upcoming problems through creative problem-oriented awareness, a defensive and solution-defined-problem approach conceptualizes disaster response (for instance warm clothing was sent to African famines). Third, how disaster sociologists and their ways of conceptualising a disaster (event concept, stage or model concept, specific ratio and system catalyst etc.) are affected by all this.16

Out of three ideal types of 'social disruption', 'social construction of reality', and 'political definitions', Hewitt finds 'social construction of disaster' the main problem, which requires examination of relations between discourse, ideology, and practice. The 'hazard-centric paradigm' of disaster studies is the real problem where disasters are considered as the function of an 'agent' (outside the society 'in the environment'). Such an approach makes social understanding secondary to the natural and technological agents by focussing on agent-specific approach. Thus, in the area of risk assessments, warnings and emergency preparedness 'there is continuing dominance of geophysical, technological, and formal organizational models'. That is, 'Persons, communities, and their concerns are reduced to mass, collective units, statistically distributed data points, and functions of abstract dimensions' constructing 'social problems without social content'. Hewitt further argues that the 'challenges of vulnerability' require 'social economy of response' based on the coping capacity of persons and the community, which depends on real or everyday public-life situations. Therefore, social conditions like housing problems, a mega-project, changing farming practices or treatment of women, etc. indirectly influence vulnerability to earthquakes, famine or toxic chemicals, etc. Hence, the major concern of the everyday life is the appearance of unprecedented difficulties and changes as a result of economic globalisation, technological and other deliberate interventions by the state etc., making disaster a more complex issue that requires more social and ecological understanding of technology and society.17

Similarly, by recognizing the importance of the need to avoid agent determinism and focussing on social disruption, Russel R. Dynes points out the need to identify the social unit of response which has cross national and cross cultural applicability and also has the capacity and resources to activate a response to the disaster. Thus, Dynes identifies 'community' (its actions and adaptations) as a universal form of social life and response and proposes three model types of disasters. The first is 'Autonomous community disasters', in which the response to disasters is within the coping capacity of the community. The second is 'Dependent community disasters', in which the capacity of a community is 'weak' and marked by extensive organizational involvement of extra-community organizations. The third type is 'Non-community disasters', in which response does not demand extensive or total involvement of most community emergency organizations. Thus, based on 'the capability of communities to respond on the basis of their own social resources', Dynes proposes adoption of 'a social system approach' based on behavioural responses. This 'complex social process involves several stages, as well as several different levels of social structure'.18

Special attention on the conceptualization of future disasters is made by Uriel Rosenthal, who argues that future disasters are characterized by 'transnationalization', 'mediazation', and 'politicization'. 'Transnationalization' means that though the source of the disaster may be local or national in origin, impact in time and space are not so; 'mediazation' means that the media play a very important role in assigning a situation as a disaster; and lastly, 'politicization' means due to 'transnationalization' and 'mediazation' the 'disasters and crises will easily turn into high politics'.19

Similarly, in the recent past the concepts of 'catastrophe', 'worst cases', and 'natech disasters' have emerged as a new way of looking at future disasters. E. L. Quarantelli argues that disasters differ from catastrophes in degree of impact and degree of involvement of authorities, along with appropriate measures to be taken.20 Lee Clark proposes the concept of 'worst cases' and argues that due to hubris, interdependence, and population concentration, contemporary societies are at greater risk for 'worst-case' disasters. Clark illustrates 'worst cases' as events where a large body count is the matter of concern in areas of our lot of experience in the past (such as airplane crashes, earthquakes, shipwrecks, oil spills, etc.), and some disasters where body counts are low but are unfamiliar and unexpected (such as the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia disasters). By calling worst cases 'possibilistic thinking', Clark argues that there is need to complement 'probabilistic thinking' with 'possibilistic thinking'.

While many people may argue that probabilism is the right way to approach the future, Clark further argues that out of probabilism (the likelihood of something happening) and possibilism (what could happen when it does), 'neglecting worst-case possibilities can lead to serious mistakes'.21 He focuses on disasters or 'worst cases' as normal or ordinary because 'seeing disaster as special also fosters bad policy by pushing policy makers to operate on incorrect assumptions about human behaviour', and failing to imagine the worst means the risk of much greater consequences. That is why Clark emphasizes, 'just imagine the possibility'.22 Natural disaster–triggered technological (natech) disasters are also a major concern among disaster researchers, especially in European countries. Ana Maria Cruz extensively discussed the release of chlorine in the Czech Republic following the floods sweeping across Europe (summer 2002), and earthquake-triggered release of hazardous materials in Turkey (1999). Cruz also discussed how selected countries are addressing natech risk in Europe and the issues of awareness related to 'natech' disasters.23

Therefore, for further refinement of the concept called 'disaster', Quarantelli calls for 'a new typology of crisis situations' (within which disasters are only one type) in the form of 'a new paradigm'. He suggests developing a 'genotypical' conception (common non-visible factors) of disasters based on characteristics of origin, rather than 'phenotypical' (surface or manifest characteristics), which is generally based on physical appearance because 'the field has long been misled by a 'phenotypical' distinction drawn from the common senses', which has typological distinction between natural and technological disasters. By referring to different kinds of typologies such as empirical, logical, heuristic, ideal type, etc., he preferred to opt for the ideal type, that is, the four phases of disasters, namely, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery are ideal types because they have no clear-cut boundaries, and often overlap. Quarantelli further highlights the need to address sudden and/or chronic situations, agent or response focus, placement of newer types of future crises, complex emergencies or compound disasters (complex emergencies' or 'compound disasters' are 'complex mixtures of civil strife, famines, genocidal activities, epidemics, and large-scale displacement and movement of refugees) and implicit or explicit value positions. Lastly, he writes that the 'paradigm shift' also requires 'adopting some currently much talked about intellectual trends in the social sciences'. For examples, chaos theory, ecofeminist views, cultural theories (as explained by Oliver-Smith), theoretical approach to 'risk' (Ulrich Beck's 'risk society'), and theoretical formulations that stress emotional-affective factors (taking an actor's perspective into account), etc.24

Similarly, like disaster, the discourse on theorizing 'vulnerability' is also complex in nature. According to Kofi Annan, 'Today's disasters owe as much to human activities as to the forces of nature. Indeed the term “natural” is increasingly misleading'.25 Hilhorst and Bankoff summarize the nature of vulnerability as follows.

Vulnerability changes through time in unpredictable ways and in varying directions: increasing, decreasing, accelerating, oscillating, concentrating or diffusing. It varies with the interplay of three different time frames: long-term, short-term and cyclical change.26

The origin and evolution of vulnerabilities in various societies are deeply rooted in the ideologies and the practices involved. Despite lack of consensus on any single model or theory or definition, the two characteristics of vulnerability are very well-recognized: (1) recognizing/defining vulnerability as a social construction, and (2) vulnerability as an internal character of communities. Hilhorst and Bankoff explain the political nature of vulnerability in two ways, that is, first, that 'the material production and distribution of vulnerability is the result of political processes', and second, that 'the labelling of vulnerable people is also a political act'.27

Reflecting on the 'cultural construction' of nature–society relations, in which 'the nature of disasters is rooted in the co-evolutionary relationship of human societies and natural systems', Anthony Oliver-Smith28 argues for a 'political ecological perspective on disasters'. This stands for 'the dynamic relationships between a human population, its socially generated and politically enforced productive and allocative patterns, and its physical environment, all in the formation of patterns of vulnerability and response to disaster'; and 'the social institutions through which human beings access the physical environment are the key elements in the evolution of disasters'. Therefore, the claim is that 'societies and destructive agents are processual phenomena rather than an isolated event demarcated in an exact time frame'. Oliver-Smith further elaborated that the meeting of a human population and a potentially destructive agent does not inevitably produce a disaster. Actually, a disaster is the result of a 'historically produced pattern of vulnerability', which depends on multiple factors like 'location, infrastructure, sociopolitical structure, production patterns, and ideology that characterize a society'.29

In an important observation, Bankoff claims that the depiction of some regions of the globe as unsafe due to increasing numbers of disasters is a 'western discourse'. He explains that between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, the warm and moist climate of tropical and equatorial regions was depicted as disease-ridden by newly-arrived Europeans. Later, in the late nineteenth century, 'germ theory' explained the cause of diseases as 'bacteria' rather than 'climate', and a 'cure' was sought as the Western medicine. But by the end of the twentieth century, this notion of Western security was diluted with the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of known diseases, spread of the AIDS pandemic and other new viruses.30 In the same way, subsequent debates of 'developmentalism' and 'vulnerability' as 'cultural constructs' of 'Western discourse' are summarized by Bankoff as follows.

Between the seventeenth and early twentieth centuries, this discourse was about 'tropicality' and western intervention was known as 'colonialism'. Post-1945, it was mainly about 'development' and Western intervention was known as 'aid'. In the 1990s, it was about 'vulnerability' and Western intervention is known as 'relief'.31

Bankoff further writes, 'The historical nature of danger has transformed once primarily disease-ridden regions into poverty-stricken ones, and now depicts them as disaster-prone'.32 Thus, Bankoff's claim is that the notion of 'vulnerability' emphasizes what renders communities unsafe (society's social order), that is vulnerable populations are unsafe due to marginality which make their life a 'permanent emergency'. Therefore, like the 'topicality' discourse, the discourse of vulnerability divides the world into two in which the geographical distribution is the same as the tropicality and developmentalism discourse.33

Despite all this, the most difficult and unsettled task of vulnerability research is what Jorn Birkmann and Ben Wisner call 'measuring the un-measurable', which recognizes the inability to quantify some social aspects; 'this does not mean they escape measurement or at least assessment and systematisation altogether'. They also suggest that:

the term vulnerability does not solely encompass quantitative approaches, but also seeks to discuss and develop all types of methods able to translate the abstract concept of vulnerability into practical tools to be applied in the field. Therefore it was concluded that 'risk (R) is a function of vulnerability (V) and hazard (H), that means [R = ?(V,H)]. This inseparable pair of concepts—vulnerability and hazard—is also shaped by the socio-economic development context as well as the cultural and institutional aspects of daily life.34

As suggested, from the above, disaster studies have essentially been inserted into the larger narrative of development. Thus, despite making the conceptual shift from the 'calamitous event' to 'vulnerability', the conventional disaster management practices continue to retain a strong technocratic solution based approach.  The emphasis thus remains on controlling the external factors through modern science and technology. Such perspectives, consequently, do not recognise the role of everyday social and political processes in creating contexts for disasters or vulnerability. In other words, development discourses have tended to play down the role of deeper social and political processes in the shaping and influencing of disaster events and their causes. Invariably, it is this technocratic refrain, as I point out below, that runs through most of the so called 'paradigm shift' approach of the Indian government.

Re-thinking India's Disaster Management Framework

The two supposedly basic pillars aimed at evolving India's comprehensive national disaster management policy are 'National Disaster Framework [a roadmap]' and 'Disaster Management Act, 2005'. Both these together constitute India's contemporary disaster management framework. The roots of this new framework lie in the setting up of a High Power Committee (HPC) on Disaster Management in 1999, which submitted its report in 2001. HPC proposed the setting up of a separate Department of Disaster Management and a National Emergency Management Authority at national level. HPC identified various disasters and grouped them it to five sub-groups35 as (1) water- and climate-related disasters,36 (2) geologically-related disasters,37 (3) chemical-, industrial- and nuclear-related disasters,38 (4) accident-related disasters,39 and (5) biologically-related disasters.40 The HPC report further stated that:

Even after enlistment and deliberations over thirty odd disasters, there were further suggestions for inclusion of more types of disasters such as civil strife, communal violence etc. However, the members were of the view that it was not possible to make the list exhaustive, but the basic condition of it having been designed to cater to all major categories of disasters should suffice for the purpose of the HPC. The HPC felt that the systems developed based on these listed types of disasters, further classified into five groups should suffice in catering to any additional types of disasters that may emerge.41

Thus, we can say that the HPC conceptualized disasters as an encompassing concept covering all natural as well as man-made disasters, and also recommended regular refinement through inclusion of additional upcoming disasters. The most important development in all these initiatives taken by the government is the adoption of the 'paradigm shift' approach in disaster management practices as the guiding principle. In the inaugural speech of the First India Disaster Management Congress (29 November 2006), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh elaborated this approach as the following:

...the time has come for a paradigm shift in disaster management from a 'relief-centric' and 'postevent' response, to a regime that lays greater emphasis on preparedness, prevention and mitigation...Such an approach should place emphasis on improving early warning systems, ensuring the reach and efficacy of dissemination, creating awareness and building capacities at all levels of public administration. I am, therefore, very happy that the draft National Policy42 on Disaster Management, places great emphasis on efficient management of disasters, rather than only focus on immediate response to disasters.43

This new approach also recognized the inclusion of mitigation strategies in the development process and that mitigation itself has to be multidisciplinary.44 This approach was translated into a 'National Disaster Framework [a roadmap]' covering an institutional mechanism, mitigation and prevention measures, a legal/policy framework, preparedness and response, early warning systems, human resource development and capacity building.45 Later, in December 2005, the Disaster Management Act of India was enacted.

An important observation one can make in the Act is that although India's DMA, 2005, defines several terms,46 some important key terms like hazard, vulnerability, risk, resilience and community are completely missing in it. Based on a community approach and coping capacity, the Act defines a disaster as:

a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any areas, arising from natural or manmade causes, or by accidents or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area (Disaster Management Act, 2005).47

Inclusion of a community-based approach and coping capacity is a welcome step in the above definition, but the focus on disaster as an event still reflects a narrow conception. Further, this definition does not reflect a more relevant dynamic and process-oriented conception of disaster indicating historical production or cultural construction of vulnerability; and covering physical, social, economic, environmental and institutional vulnerabilities at various structural levels in the community/society. Examples of process-oriented dynamic conceptions are as follows.

A process/event involving the combination of a potentially destructive agent(s) from the natural, modified and/or constructed environment and a population in a socially and economically produced condition of vulnerability, resulting in a perceived disruption of the customary relative satisfactions of individual and social needs for physical survival, social order and meaning (Anthony Oliver-Smith).48

A disaster is a function of the risk process. It results from the combination of hazards, conditions of vulnerability and insufficient capacity or measures to reduce the potential negative consequences of risk (International Strategy for Disaster Reduction).49

Such a conceptualization in the larger context of dynamic complexity is more close to the contemporary conceptualization of the 'paradigm shift' approach adopted in India. The argument is to realize the larger context of process-oriented dynamic complexity of the human–environment system; and, as suggested by Turner that all our conceptions are 'reduced forms' of the totality of the system, that is why 'failure to consider this larger context could lead to the identification of “response opportunities,” which, if implemented, lead to significant unintended consequences or surprise.'50

On the basis of the DM Act, 2005, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was set up as India's institutional mechanism for effective disaster management. Being the apex body in the country to lay down policy, plans, and guidelines for disaster management practices, NDMA has prepared a policy framework by keeping in view the following national vision:

to build a safer and disaster resilient India by developing a holistic, pro-active, multi-disaster and technology-driven strategy for disaster management through collective efforts of all Government Agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations.51

The themes underpinning this policy focus on five aspects: (1) community-based disaster management, (2) capacity development, (3) consolidation of past initiatives and best practices, (4) cooperation with agencies at national, regional and international levels, and (5) compliance and coordination to generate a multi-sectoral synergy.52 From the national vision and aforementioned themes, the objectives guiding the policy formulation have evolved. These objectives53 are as follows.

  1. Promoting a culture of prevention and preparedness—by centre-staging DM as an overriding priority at all levels and at all times,
  2. Encouraging mitigation measures based on state-of-the-art technology and environmental sustainability,
  3. Mainstreaming DM concerns into the development planning process,
  4. Putting in place a streamlined institutional techno-legal framework in order to create and preserve the integrity of an enabling regulatory environment and a compliance regime,
  5. Developing contemporary forecasting and early warning systems backed by responsive and fail-safe communications and Information Technology (IT) support,
  6. Promoting a productive partnership with the Media, NGOs and the Corporate Sector in the areas of awareness generation and capacity development,
  7. Ensuring efficient response and relief with a caring humane approach towards the vulnerable sections of the society,
  8. Making reconstruction an opportunity to build back better and construct disaster-resilient structures and habitats.

One can make an observation that the words 'technology-driven strategy' (mentioned above in the national vision) dominates the above objectives of guiding the policy formulation, because out of eight objectives mentioned by NDMA, four (nos. 2, 4, 5, and 8) focus on technocratic solutions which straightforwardly target 'physical corrective engineering' and 'post-event emergency response'. The argument is that considering mitigation measures merely based on state-of-the-art technology (see no. 2 above) would be a narrow approach by making considerations of social dynamics secondary in practice to the understanding of nature (natural events) and technological solutions. Similarly, the multi-hazard early warning as proposed must address hazards beyond merely environmental hazards. For instance, in a recent study, the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), Thiruvananthapuram, reported that the cause of viral fever outbreak in Kerala in the summer of 2007 was 'a heavy viral load in all parts' of the state.54 The worry is that on one hand bird flu, dropsy, dengue, chikungunya, are potential threats to the masses, and on the other global climate change–driven global warming can unearth many more bacteria and viruses from the melting ice caps (the Himalayan region) as well as in the plains. Therefore, the multi-hazard early warning system has to broaden its horizon from collection of a few natural hazards to covering threats from globalization, distress migration, global climate change, information-communication-technologies (ICT) failure, natural disaster-triggered technological (natech) disasters, creeping disasters, risks from various existing/upcoming technologies, and many more upcoming potential threats.

The above-mentioned conceptualization of policy objectives which is inclined towards a natural hazard–oriented technocratic solutions oriented approach is well reflected in practice. It could be seen in a presentation made by a representative of the Government of India in the 'South Asia Policy Dialogue on Regional Disaster Risk Reduction', New Delhi (21–22 August 2006). The presentation began with showing hazard vulnerability in India55 covering earthquakes, floods, cyclones, droughts, landslides/avalanches, tsunamis, and village fires. Here, it can be clearly observed that the types of hazard vulnerability mentioned above cover only two out of five types of disasters categorized by HPC, viz., water- and climate-related disasters, and geologically-related disasters, while the presentation remained silent on hazard vulnerability of the remaining three types, viz., chemical-, industrial-, and nuclear-related disasters, accident-related disasters, and biologically-related disasters.56

However, in an another presentation made by Rajiv Kumar of the Ministry of Home Affairs at the 'Workshop on Regional Cooperation among BIMSTEC Countries for Disaster Risk Reduction & Management', New Delhi (30–31 October 2006), a more elaborative concept of hazard vulnerability of India was presented covering man-made disasters (fire, terrorist activities using conventional weapons or nuclear, biological and chemical materials, attack, industrial accidents) along with geological and hydrometeorological disasters.57 In another development in the same year, the thematic clusters of 'First India Disaster Management Congress,' New Delhi (29–30 November 2006) were divided into six types.58 If we take the HPC report as the basis for evolution of India's disaster management framework, a clear observation can be made that the contemporary approach is lacking in identification of multi-hazard vulnerabilities in the country.

Disasters like dam failures/bursts, major building collapse (due to accidents), festival-related disasters, electrical disasters, air, road and rail accidents, boat capsizing, pest attacks, cattle epidemics, food poisoning, etc. which are explicitly mentioned in the HPC report are missing in 'First India Disaster Management Congress' as well as the frameworks presented above. Thus, the real challenge before India's contemporary disaster management framework is to broaden its horizon form the focus on selected hazardous events to a more dynamic conception based on flexibility to adapt the inclusion of unrealized threats and vulnerabilities yet to be realized.

Thus, the recognition of disaster management as a cyclic process integrating prevention, preparedness, mitigation along with the inclusion of disaster management in the development practices reflect the shifting nature of the disaster discourse in India. At the same time disasters are still conceptualized as acts of external forces as well as events limited in time and space, thereby the focus remains on attempting to mitigate certain selected natural hazards and technological accidents. Consequently, by overlooking socio-political dynamics the challenge remains centred around predicting and controlling hazards through the use of modern science and technology. Below, I further demonstrate how the application of such a simplistic model in disaster management practice has failed to grapple with the wider socio-political and other ecologically complex realities. The inability to recognise these complexities, in fact, make the practice of disaster mitigation a kind of disaster itself.

India's 'Paradigm Shift' Approach and Recovery after the Tsunami of 26 December 2004

After the tsunami of 26 December 2004, to assess the socioeconomic and environmental impact of disaster, the Government of India (GOI) approached the Asian Development Bank, the United Nations and the World Bank. In response all three organizations conducted a 'Preliminary Damage and Needs Assessment' through a joint assessment mission (JAM) in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Pondicherry (now Puducherry), excluding the Union Territory of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Maximum damage was identified in fisheries, housing and infrastructure, while losses related to livelihoods in fisheries, agriculture and micro-enterprises due to pre-existing vulnerability to poverty of communities involved in these sectors were also recognised. Based on these estimates, JAM team made short-, medium- and long-term recommendations for reconstruction. These included multi-hazard risk assessment, community involvement and community-based disaster risk management, multi-hazard early warning system, repairing cyclone shelters, linkage with environmental issues, strengthening institutional, techno-legal and techno-financial disaster risk management system, etc.59 The most significant aspect of the JAM report is its conceptual basis that is the methodology developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) for the damage and need assessment of disasters in these countries. This model can assess merely physical and economic vulnerabilities in specific geographical and sectoral contexts. Thus, its inability to capture wider socio-political and other vulnerabilities in the Indian context made the task of assessors limited in scope. The result was proliferation of complex problems or post-disaster vulnerabilities during the recovery programme ahead. The Washington Post reported the post-Tsunami tragedy as follows:

The South Asian tragedy has ripped open centuries-old fault lines of caste in rural India's rigid social hierarchy. In the district of Nagapattinam, where more than 6,000 people died, untouchables from about 10 villages have openly protested what they call discrimination against them in the provision of relief supplies and access to shelters.60

This report exposes that how fishermen forced Dalits (above mentioned untouchables) of the same village to leave shelters, and also how fishing families claimed the losses suffered by Dalits as small as compared to them, therefore, Dalits require less aid than the fisherman. Another similar reporting states the discrimination of Dalits as following:

The plight of villages such as Pudupalayam (pronounced poo-doo-PAH-lay-uhm) is especially challenging in a country such as India, where a decade of economic growth has spawned shopping malls and a burgeoning middle class, but still hasn't overcome a social system that remains divided largely along gender and caste lines. 'All the aid agencies and even the government are only looking after the fisher-folk,' complained Shivalingam, a young and outspoken community leader who like many here uses only one name. 'They got their boats and their nets. We don't have any work.'61

According to this report Dalits were overlooked in relief because fishing families were identified as most affected. This resulted in more and more provisions of boats and nets for fishermen while there was hardly any provision for cows and goats lost by Dalits.  Further, the proliferation of boats resulted in reduced catches per boat, due to which some fishermen wouldn't have been able to cover their costs. In an another article, Ken Moritsugu writes that in the rush to rebuild 'shelters built in low-lying areas ended up flooding during rainy season', and also the delivery of relief as quickly possible led to the delivery of poor-quality boats which were not seaworthy.62 Other issues which were later unearthed included unsuitability of plastic tents in the hot and humid conditions of coastal areas, long-term stay in temporary houses due to delay in construction of permanent houses, and sustainability of the cash for work programme.

Thus, the caste-based, socially-generated and politically-enforced productive and allocative pattern of Indian society made Dalits more vulnerable in historical time; and their assets were also assigned as of small value. Looking through the lenses of Western discourse of developmentalism based on geographical similarities of India with Latin American and Caribbean countries, JAM applied the UNECLAC model with the sectoral approach, and, therefore, could not assess the genotypic nature of the historically-produced vulnerability of Dalits whose threads are deeply rooted in the centuries-old political ecology/economy of this country. More importantly, following a constructivist approach, the argument is that it is not merely the application of Western principles (sectoral model of market economy) which made Dalits more vulnerable aftermath of the Tsunami, but at the same time even after outlawing of the millennia-old caste system by the Indian constitution, many Indians still retain the system mentally and follow it illegally which increased the post-Tsunami vulnerability of Dalits manifold. Thus, the two-way process of Indian society's inability to overcome untouchability in practice and the failure of damage assessing agencies to recognize Dalit as more vulnerable after the disaster suddenly accelerated their post-disaster vulnerability which was beyond control.

There was also immeasurable damage to the environment, fish stocks, and local adaptation patterns evolved over the years. Its exact estimation is beyond the scope of the scientific community due to the highly complex nature of various factors involved in time and space. Destruction of mangrove, coral reefs, sand dunes and other coastal ecosystems along the coastline which provided natural defences from sea waves was as severe as the loss of fish stock. Coastlines were eroded, sediments from the land were deposited over the coral reefs, sea mud was deposited over the agricultural land, and shallow soil was stripped off from some low-lying islands. Shallow and ground water was contaminated by saline water of the sea, while faecal bacteria from damaged or destroyed septic tanks and pit toilets contaminated water supply systems. Rapid cleaning up of debris containing toxic and hazardous materials led to their inappropriate disposal, and lastly, the impact on agriculture and local adaptation patterns was also unaccountable. According to Revathi M. (executive director of a Chennai-based NGO ToFarM),63 saline sea water contaminated fresh water over the land and the consequent reverse osmosis (RO) took out the water from the plants. Though the government provided gypsum to farmers to desalinate the water, no one knew how much gypsum was to be applied and where and how much time it would take to desalinate the water. Even the scientific community was unable to provide this information either because of uncertainties, or was unable to give any quick solution to tackle the problem of deposition of sea mud over agricultural land. By raising the problem of destruction of the local adaptation pattern during the reconstruction programme, Revathi M. argued that in Nagapattinam, coastal villages had natural defences of sand dunes which protected them from sea water or tsunamis. These sand dunes developed naturally over the years due to consistent sand depositions by the on-shore waves, but during the Tsunami reconstruction programme, construction agencies started sand mining from these sand dunes, and this very natural defence was destroyed.

'Phantom' aid also seems responsible for the acceleration of post-disaster vulnerability. Once the fishing communities were announced as most affected/vulnerable, most aid agencies targeted the fisheries sector immediately. Consequently, proliferation of boats and nets as aid was beyond the absorption capacity of the coast, and resulted in a reduced fish catch per boat. In a hurry to supply, poor-quality boats were supplied which are not long-lasting. Further, the failure to recognize the geo-climatic vulnerability of the tropical coastline of India led to the supply of plastic tents as relief material, which was not suited to the hot and humid climate of the target region. The climatic vulnerability was further reflected in the rainy season when failure to recognize it led to flooding of shelters built in low-lying areas. The most important factors behind all these undesirable events were the responses based on an outsider's perspective.

Conclusion

The contemporary perception of disaster studies has evolved from a simple perception of disaster as a 'calamity' or 'catastrophe' to the complex notions of 'vulnerability' or 'complexity'. After the last more than 50 years of systematic disaster research, which originally started in the middle of the twentieth century in United States, some important terms of disaster studies such as 'disaster', 'vulnerability' and 'risk' still lack common consensus, even though some features of these notions are well-recognized throughout the world. This gradual recognition of various features has led to a shift in focus of the study from the physical environment to the social system as the centre of analysis where historical inquiry in to the dynamic complexity-oriented processes which make people and societies vulnerable needs special attention. Therefore, a process oriented historical perspective of society highlighting the man-nature interactions along with various technological as well as other deliberate interventions is suggested to give a comprehensive understanding of disasters for better policy formulations.

Under the influence of this debate the Government of India adopted a 'paradigm shift' approach followed by the enactment of Disaster Management Act, 2005. By rejecting traditional practices of linear pathways based on 'relief-centric' 'post-event' response to the disasters, the new approach recognises disaster management as a cyclic process integrating both pre-disaster and post-event responses more cohesively. The emphasis on mainstreaming disaster management in to development practices gives the impression of shifting focus towards social processes as well as other complexities of everyday life and man-nature interactions. But in reality, further in-depth inquiry into the disaster management practices in India reveals that the act is running out of clarity over certain assumptions involved, lacks definitions of key terms and inclines towards event-centred conception of disasters. At the same time dominance of technocratic-solutions in practices driven by the notion of 'technology-driven strategy' reflects the strong influence of the long before rejected paradigm of 'hazard-centric approach'. Thus, India's contemporary disaster management framework has become a collage of various conflicting paradigms of disaster studies.        

This conflict also dominates post-Tsunami debate in India where the heuristics of 'community-based disaster management', 'state-of-the-art early warning system' and strengthening 'institutional', 'techno-legal' and 'techno-financial' capabilities, etc. are projected as solutions ahead. The emphasis has been on treating tsunami as essentially a technical challenge. The risk perception and measures for mitigation, in other words, are believed to belong to the domain of scientists, engineers, experts and bureaucrats etc. Therefore, solutions are dominated by scientific and technological approaches. In similar vein, post-tsunami recovery initiatives for the impacted communities have concentrated on interventions tied to familiar notions of immediate relief-centric dispersal of aid amongst the affected communities. Thus, the Tsunami of 2004 has been overwhelmingly described and treated as a one-shot natural calamitous event and its relief measures addressed on an immediate time scale.

Therefore, it is quite clear that those involved in policy formulation and practices are still unable to come out of the traditional mindset directing them towards framing narrower conceptions of disasters. There needs to be much greater coherence among the vision, goals, objectives and policies and programmes, failing to which invites unintended consequences as evident from the case of the Tsunami of December 2004.    

Acknowledgement

The author is thankful to Dr. Rohan D'Souza, (Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University) and the organisers and participants of the conference on 'Re-Examining Disaster, Recovery and Reconstruction: Social Science Perspectives on the Tsunami (14-15 January 2008, New Delhi)' for their valuable comments and suggestions for this paper.   

Notes and References

  1. Bankoff, G., 'Rendering the World Unsafe: “Vulnerability” as Western Discourse', Disasters, vol. 25, no. 1, 2001, pp. 22–24.
  2. Escobar, A., 'Invention of Development', Current History, vol. 98, no. 631, 1999, p. 384.
  3. Ibid., pp. 385–86.
  4. Actionaid, 'Real Aid: An Agenda for Making Aid Work', 2005, p. 3: http://www.actionaid.org/docs/real_aid.pdf retrieved 13 August 2007.
  5. Gilbert, C., 'Studying Disaster: Changes in the Main Conceptual Tools', in What is a Disaster? Perspectives on the Question, ed. E. L. Quarantelli, London and New York: Routledge, 1998, pp. 11–13.
  6. Hewitt, K., 'The Idea of Calamity in a Technocratic Age', in Interpretations of Calamity from the Viewpoint of Human Ecology, ed. K. Hewitt, London and Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1983, pp. 3–8.
  7. Smith, K., Environmental Hazards: Assessing Risk and Reducing Disaster, 2nd edn., New York and London: Routledge, 1996, pp. 47–48.
  8. Hewitt, op. cit., n. 7 above, pp. 24–29.
  9. Gilbert, op. cit., n. 6 above, pp. 14–15.
  10. The concept of 'Positivism' was introduced by Auguste Comte. It is the belief in creation of 'a science of society' based on the principles of natural sciences, i.e. human behaviour can be explained in the same way as the behaviour of matter is recognized in 'modern science'. Thus, it recognizes that a scientific method–driven technocratic approach (based on abstract facts and its observable behaviour) can provide definite solutions to social problems. Therefore, positivists have undoubted faith in the 'certainty' and 'predictability' of modern (abstract or reductionist) science and technology. See J. Ziman, An Introduction to Science Studies: The Philosophical and Social Aspects of Science and Technology, Cambridge: New York, 1984, p. 39.
  11. 'Constructivism' emphasizes complex and dynamic man–nature interactions, in which human societies and environment are believed to be mutually constructed in a highly uncertain or unpredictable manner in time and space. See A. Oliver-Smith, 'Theorizing Vulnerability in a Globalized World: A Political Ecological Perspective', in Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People, 1st South Asian edn., ed. G. Bankoff, London: Earthscan, 2006, pp. 17–19.
  12. The concept of 'reflexive modernity' is extensively discussed by Ulrich Beck. According to Beck, the process of modernization has produced a new type of society called 'risk society' due to 'latent side-effects' of the modern industrialized world. In the early period of industrial societies, risks such as industrial smog were observable or obvious, but today in advanced societies (or in the later period of industrialization) the risks are less obvious and unanticipated effects of science and technological advances. For example, pollution-related or medical science–related risks remain unknown to the public until exposed by a crisis. The issues of this new risk cannot be understood by traditional social science theories. See U. Beck, Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity, London: Sage, 1992.
  13. Hilhorst, D., 'Complexity and Diversity: Unlocking Social Domains of Disaster Response', in Bankoff, Mapping Vulnerability, pp. 53–54.
  14. Gilbert, C., 'Studying Disaster: Changes in the main conceptual tools', in What is a Disaster? Perspectives on the Question, ed. E. L. Quarantelli, London and New York: Routledge, 1998, p. 17.
  15. Dombrowsky explains animistic thinking as a conception of casualty describing non-human occurrence in terms of human activities such as 'a disaster hit the city,' 'tornadoes kill and destroy,' or a 'catastrophe is known by its works', etc.
  16. Dombrowsky, W. R., 'Again and Again: Is a Disaster What We Call a “Disaster”?', inQuarantelli, What is a Disaster?, pp. 19–30.
  17. Hewitt, K., 'Excluded Perspectives in Social Construction of Disaster', in Quarantelli, ibid.,, pp. 75–91.
  18. Dynes, R. R., 'Coming to Terms with Community Disaster', in Quarantelli, , ibid., pp. 109–26.
  19. Rosenthal, U., 'Future Disasters, Future Definitions', in Quarantelli, ibid., pp. 146–59.
  20. Quarantelli, E. L., Catastrophes are Different from Disasters: Some Implications for Crisis Planning and Managing Drawn from Katrina, 11 June (2006): http://understandingkatrina.ssrc.org/Quarantelli/ retrieved <10 March 2007.
  21. By citing the example of a plane crash, Lee Clark argues that the likelihood of dying is greater than in an automobile accident. Therefore, he says, 'probabilistically you're more likely to experience a car crash than an airplane crash; possibilistically you're more likely to die if your plane crashes than if your car crashes. That's why it isn't irrational to fear flying.'
  22. Clark, L., 'Worst-Case Thinking an Idea Whose Time has Come—an Invited Comment', Natural Hazards Observer, vol. XXIX, no. 3, 2005, pp. 1–3.
  23. Cruz, A. M., 'Emerging Issues for Natech Disaster Risk Management in Europe', Journal of Risk research, vol. 9, no, 5, 2006, pp. 483–501.
  24. Quarantelli, E. L., 'Epilogue: Where We Have Been and Where We Might Go', in Quarantelli, What is a Disaster?, pp. 234–70.
  25. Annan, K., 'An Increasing Vulnerability to Natural Disasters', International Herald Tribune, 10 September, 1999: http://www.iht.com/bin/print_ipub.php?file=/articles/1999/09/10/edannan.2.t.php retrieved 26 November 2006.
  26. Hilhorst, D. and Bankoff, G., 'Introduction: Mapping Vulnerability', in Bankoff, Mapping Vulnerability, p. 6.
  27. Ibid., p. 7.
  28. In an interesting case study of the earthquake which occurred on 31 May 1970 off the coast of Peru near the city of Chimbote, Oliver-Smith writes, 'After the initial research I became puzzled by the contrast between the extraordinary mortality and damage in the Andean prehistoric record.' Oliver-Smith further elaborated that since the Peruvian coast and highlands are prone to earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, droughts and other hazards, therefore, investigations of the adaptation pattern of pre-Columbian people to these hazards revealed five basic patterns: (1) people diversified production and spread risk by controlling multiple ecological tiers; (2) they adopted a dispersed settlement pattern; (3) environmentally-appropriate building materials and techniques such as lightweight roof materials with low, thin, walls best suited for vernacular architecture were used; (4) they adopted preparedness measures by maintaining storehouses called qollqas; and (5) ideologically, they had a cultural tradition of disaster awareness. But during the Spanish conquest of Peru, by ignoring Andean notions of territoriality and settlement patterns, 'attempts to control and exploit the large population subverted specific indigenous adaptive strategies to their hazardous environments.' The new settlements adopted Spanish architecture having a grid pattern of perpendicular, narrow streets with adjoining or closely-located houses. Oliver-Smith further writes, 'Narrow streets, untied walls, heavy roofs and seismic tremors are a deadly combination'; and, consequently, 'the high mortality rates in highland cities, in particular, were due largely to three major factors: settlement location, settlement plan, and building techniques and materials'. Therefore, Oliver-Smith claims that the earthquake of 31 May 1970 'can be seen as an event/process which in certain respects began almost five hundred years earlier with the conquest and colonization of Peru and its consequent insertion into the developing world economic system of which Spain was a major architect'.
  29. Oliver-Smith, A., 'Global Changes and the Definition of Disaster', in Quarantelli, What is a Disaster?, pp. 187–92.
  30. Bankoff, G., 'The Historical Geography of Disaster: “Vulnerability” and “Local Knowledge” in Western Discourse', in Bankoff, op. cit., n. 11 above, p. 26.
  31. Ibid., p. 33.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Bankoff, op. cit., n. 1 above, pp. 25–27.
  34. Birkmann, J. and Wisner, B., Measuring the Un-Measurable: The Challenges of Vulnerability, SOURCE No. 5, Bonn: UNU-EHS, 2006, pp. 10–12: http://www.ehs.unu.edu/file.php?id=212 retrieved 22 January 2007.
  35. Government of India, High Power Committee Report, 2001, p. 71: http://www.nidm.net/HPC/volume/ch3.pdf retrieved 7 December 2006.
  36. Subdivided into: (1) Floods and Drainage Management, (2) Cyclones, (3) Tornadoes and Hurricanes, (4) Hailstorms, (5) Cloud Bursts, (6) Heat Waves and Cold Waves, (7) Snow Avalanches, (8) Droughts, (9) Sea Erosion, (10) Thunder and Lightning.
  37. Subdivided into: (1) Landslides and Mudflows, (2) Earthquakes, (3) Dam Failures/Dam Bursts, (4) Mine Fires.
  38. Subdivided into: (1) Chemical and Industrial Disasters, (2) Nuclear Disasters.
  39. Subdivided into: (1) Forest Fires, (2) Urban Fires, (3) Mine Flooding, (4) Oil Spills, (5) Major Building Collapses, (6) Serial Bomb Blasts, (7) Festival-Related Disasters, (8) Electrical Disasters and Fires, (9) Air, Road and Rail Accidents,
  40. (10) Boat Capsizing, (11) Village Fire.
  41. Subdivided into: (1) Biological Disasters and Epidemics, (2) Pest Attacks, (3) Cattle Epidemics, (4) Food Poisoning.
  42. Government of India, op. cit., n. 35 above.
  43. Broad features of the Draft National Policy on DM include: (1) a holistic and proactive approach, (2) each ministry /department set apart an appropriate fund under the plan for specific schemes/projects for vulnerability reduction and preparedness, (3) each project in hazard-prone areas will have mitigation as an essential term of reference, (4) community involvement and awareness generation, (5) close interaction between the corporate sector, NGOs, the media and the government, (6) institutional structures to be built up and development of inter-state arrangements for sharing of resources during emergencies, (7) culture of planning and preparedness for capacity building, (8) construction designs as per Bureau of Standards codes, (9) all lifeline buildings, e.g., hospitals, railway stations, airport control towers, etc. to be disaster-resistant or retrofitted, (10) revision of Relief Codes in the states and developing them into disaster management codes/manuals. See Government of India, Disaster Management in India: A Status Report, New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs, 2004, pp. 9–12.
  44. Singh, M., 'Emphasise Prevention Says PM', Times Foundation, 29 November 2006: http://timesfoundation.indiatimes.com/articleshow/729689.cms retrieved 8 January 2007.
  45. Government of India, op. cit., n. 42 above, pp. 3–4.
  46. Ibid.
  47. Various definitions mentioned in the Disaster Management Act, 2005, include 'affected area', 'capacity building', 'central government', 'disaster', 'disaster management', 'district authority', 'local authority', 'national authority', 'mitigation', 'national executive committee', 'national plan', 'preparedness', 'prescribed', 'recommended', 'resources', 'state executive committee', 'state government', and 'state plan'. See Government of India, Disaster Management Act, 2005: http://www.nidm.net/DM_act2005.pdf retrieved 10 November 2006.
  48. Government of India, 'Disaster Management Act, 2005', Gazette of India, New Delhi, 26 December 2005, ibid., p. 2.
  49. Oliver-Smith, op. cit., n. 29 above, p. 186.
  50. 'ISDR Terminology: Basic Terms of Disaster Risk Reduction': http://www.unisdr.org/eng/library/libterminology- eng%20home.htm retrieved 22 May 2007.
  51. Turner, B. L., 'A Framework for Vulnerability Analysis in Sustainability Science', Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, vol. 100, no. 14, 2003, p. 8076.
  52. NDMA: http://ndma.gov.in/wps/portal/NDMAPortal
  53. Ibid.
  54. Ibid.
  55. The Hindu, 'Heavy Chikungunya Virus Load in Kerala, says Biotechnology Centre: Submits Preliminary Report, to do Further Studies', 23 July 2007, p. 7.
  56. Hazard vulnerability in India: (1) 60% land mass, earthquake-prone, (2) 8%, or 40 million ha, flood-prone, (3) 8,000 km long coastline, cyclones, (4) 68% area, less rain, drought, (5) Hilly areas, landslides/avalanches, (6) tsunami threat, (7) village fires, other hazards.
  57. Government of India, 'Presentation before South Asia Policy Dialogue', presentation by Naveen Verma, Ministry of Home Affairs, at South Asia Policy Dialogue on Regional Disaster Risk Reduction, New Delhi, 21–22 August 2006, p. 1: http://www.nidm.net/Workshop%20in%20PDF/Day%201/Country%20Presentation/JS%20(DM)%20- %20India.pdf . retrieved 27 February 2007.
  58. Government of India, 'A Presentation and Legislative Framework in India', presentation by Rajiv Kumar, Ministry of Home Affairs, at Workshop on Regional Cooperation among BIMSTEC Countries for Disaster Risk Reduction & Management, New Delhi, 30–31 October 2006: http://www.nidm.net/BIMSTEC/Day%201/Session%20I/bimstec-workshop%20Director%20MHA%20India.pdf retrieved 27 February 2007.
  59. Thematic Clusters: (1) Geologically-Related Disasters (earthquake and landslide), (2) Hydro-Meteorological Disasters (climate change, drought, flood, cyclone and tsunami), (3) Human-Induced Disasters (industrial and nuclear), (4) Cross-Cutting Themes (development and governance, community-based disaster management, disaster risk financing, gender and social issues, role of NGOs and role of Army and paramilitary forces), (5) Health-Related Issues (disaster health management and disaster psycho-social care), (6) Role of ICT in Disaster Management: http://www.nidm.net/idmc/Thematic_Session.htm retrieved 17 January 2007.
  60. United Nations, World Bank and Asian Development Bank, 'India: Post-Tsunami Recovery Programme Preliminary Damage and Needs Assessment', 2005: http://www.undp.org/cpr/disred/documents/tsunami/india/reports/dnassessment.pdf retrieved 7 February 2007.
  61. Rama Lakshmi, 'Tsunami Opens Fault Lines in Old Caste System: India's Untouchables Allege Discrimination in Allocation of Aid', Washington Post, 18 January 2005, p. A13: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16472-2005Jan17.html retrieved 22 October 2007.
  62. Ken Moritsugu, 'Tsunami Aid Distributed Unevenly between India's Fishing and Farming Villages', South Asian Journalist Association, 7 December 2005a: http://www.saja.org/resources/moritsugu/main.htm
  63. Ken Moritsugu, 'A Rush to Rebuild Leads to Wasted Effort', South Asian Journalist Association, 7 December 2005b: http://www.saja.org/resources/moritsugu/side.htm
  64. She made a presentation during the national workshop on 'People, Policy and Partnerships for Disaster Resilient Development', 3–4 November 2007 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The workshop was organized by the National Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction (NADRR), a joint initiative of several NGOs in India. For more details about NADRR, see: http://www.disasterwatch.net/nadrr.htm

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