What Is Our Preparedness For Disasters?

March 17, 2011
The triple whammy of  earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear radiation has hit Japan, but actually it has jolted the whole world.  Firstly, it is the suddenness of natural disasters and secondly the threat nuclear plants can pose in case of crisis situation like this where the electricity to cool the plant is not there and hence making the situation uncontrollable.  Japan, as of today, is dealing with it and we hope and pray that the situation comes under control and the citizens of the country get rehabilitated soon.

But, imagining such a scenario about our country India is really frightening.  The metro cities are so densely populated.  Illiteracy and lack of information as well as awareness in the common man is one of the biggest impediments in dealing with a disaster than may take place.  Not to mention the ill preparation at the authorities end.

But, should we just wait for the State, the authorities to come forward and educate us about the precautions to be taken, or should we, as educated citizens of the country, think about gathering information, forming support groups in areas of our residence (say housing societies, RWAs, local NGOs etc) to find out ways to garner support in case of a natural or man made diaster?  How are we preparing ourselves for a disaster?

These questions did hound me a few years back when I attended an awareness workshop organised  by National Disaster Management Authority of Government of India.  In fact, after attending this workshop, I searched the popular book stores to see what kind of books are being published to make the citizens aware of the preparation to face the natural or man made disaster.  Exposing myself to such information made me more conscious towards the possible precautions to be taken, and the kind of actions required in case of a disaster. (I tried, but still can't say I'm completely ready to face any crisis situation.)

The cover page of the CBSE book for IX class

I sent the brochures and reading material I collected from the exhibition to my son's class teacher, so that she could at least tell the kids about what they should do in case of an earthquake.  I live in Delhi, which is on the seismic zone and hence prone to earthquakes.  But, unfortunately, the teacher took no action at all, and returned the papers.  I guess, teachers are not supposed to expose 5th - 6th class students to such topics... I just guess that, I don't know.

But, much to my delight, CBSE prescribed an additional book on "Disaster Management' for IX and X classes (in social studies) . Thankfully, now, the awareness would be given right from the young age, the schooling days.  And since, I help my son with his studies, it was really very interesting and informative for me to read it.

Although, it came as a sad coincidence, while I was teaching my son about the accidental nuclear radiation and the explosion, he could relate with it, as the pictures of Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Reactor were there in the newspaper that day.

Coming back to the scenario of India, we know that the overall preparedness of our Govt and our people is not as good as Japan, and when we see Japan trembling at this juncture, we have all the reasons to pause and ponder.  I can not talk about what the Govt should do, but I would definitely talk about what I, as a citizen of this country would do.  I am not talking about community service, honestly, we people are so occupied with earning a living for ourselves and our families that thinking about doing some social service or associating with a NGO is quite unthinkable for most of us.

So, I'm only talking about being aware - of the geographical location, possible threats, necessary precautions to be taken before a crisis, identifying what calamity has stuck us, how to protect ourselves immediately, and what should be the further course of action.

Since, I had a lot of share about Disaster Management, Types of Disasters and what should be done as a precautionary measure and as a remedial measure, I decided to break this post into two parts.  I shall post the second part titled - Disaster Management - and Overview in 2-3 days.

Stay aware...


RESTLESS




24 comments:

SUB said...

U r right...
looking forward to your Disaster Management post...
thanks for taking the initiative and sharing...

Cheers
SUB

Prateek said...

lately I've been thinking of the scenario; What is India? Japan being a developed country is doing everything to cope with a natural calamity of such a magnitude, what if it was India or any other developing nation?
Eeks! The question itself scares me.

Geeta Singh said...

thats news to me thanks for sharing!!:)

Jack said...

Restless,

It is a very responsible act on your part to write this for making us aware of what to do. I am with you in totality that instead of having laid back attitude to let Government take care we need to know what kind of disasters can occur in our area and should know not only precautions but steps to take if, God forbid, such situation does arise. Hope it does ring a bell to wake us up.

Take care

BookWorm said...

Rightly.. you have made made this phrase bold ... 'How are we preparing ourselves for a disaster?'... but i would rather ask.. have we prepared ourselves..?

it's been 20 years since Bhopal Happened...Has any of the government arm or the NGOs or the corporate world ever tried to clean up the mess..? only recently Tata has comeup with a suggestion to clean up but that too is pregnant with corporate interests.... so how much more time we need to take to prepare ourselves?

Having said that..? is there any objective of such orientation trainings when the people who matter just refuse to act...? Yes.. I am talking about NDMA only.. it's just another body of retired people who are loved and loathed by the Governement being given plump posts and perks.. and it continues to be so...They shouldnt be giving trainings in the first place. they should be acting.. imparting of training should be left to lesser mortals..and lesser organisations...

What about the Big dams that we build with much cheer and fanfare and sponsorship of the corporate world...? they stand as pillars of development... but can they withstand an earthquake of half the magnitude that struck Japan?

We import scrap and asbestos and remains of discarded ships from the western world and do anyone care about the disaster that is waiting to happen?

...25 years ago there was an ambitious project called Green Revolution...! it was tested in the fields of Bhatinda...Punjab.. sadly..today Bhatinda is the Cancer Capital of India...

The Japan incident is just another flag...a reference point that we need to go back and look... but it's another morning.. and we forget what happened yesterday..and go about our own lives.. Period!

BookWorm said...

...more about the NDMA.. with all the knowledge that they have...? have they every tried to stop the high-rises that are being built in seismic zones.. (which houses most of our cities)..while we are proud to showcase the tallerst tower in greater noida...!!!

why has the commonwealth games village come up in the yamuna bed when every child knows it is a quake prone area..?

...and for that matter.. why see only earthquake and tsunami and nuclear disaster as a disaster..? why not floods... it happens every year.. in every other part...

...in such situations.. the only thing that we can do is to pray..and hope that such a magnitude of disaster never come.....!!!!

aakash said...

I was thinking this would be another of those whining-on-Indian-helplessness post, but good to see that atleast someone is doing her bit for the cause. Would love to read and share the 2nd part.
aJ

Shrinidhi Hande said...

none of the towns near N plants have undergone an evacuation drill.. shows how prepard we are

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

SUB - Welcome here! Thanks for the encouragement... will write it soon.

Prateek - it's indeed a scary question... we shudder to think what can happen to our densely populated cities :(

Geeta Singh - oh, ok. will be writing more on this.

Bookworm - I understand ur anger. Yes, its very apt to talk about Bhopal... PUnjab... at this juncture. Really... why have we not yet prepared ourselves, should have been the question.

RESTLESS

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Bookworm - u hve all the valid points... thanks for sharing them here on this blog post...

we can only pray.

Aakash - yeah, will surely do my bit to spread the awareness, as to what an ordinary man can do in the time of crisis.

RESTLESS

Deguide said...

Pl ensure one of your family members or relatives joins the civil defence movement in Delhi, i believe it is well established in Delhi due to Kiran Bedi's association. Kudos to your post. All courses are free

Deguide said...

Pl join Civil defence, you will get a comprehensive training on handling all types of disaster. It is voluntary organisation. In Delhi it is well established i understand due to association of Kiran Bedi. all the best.

Agnija said...

The CBSE text is a good start. Simultaneously, though, the government should be pushed to make more comprehensive centralized plans for disaster preparedness. Every year we have floods in the Northeast and drought or near drought in the Southeast. We have still not figured out how to control this minor "disaster". We are so proud of the fact that Hadappa and Mohenjedaro was among the first civilizations to have water channels in the city and we have degraded to this! Surely, all of our tax money should not have to go to the Educate-your-ministers's-children fund?

Varshu said...

We really need the awareness atleast now. Awaiting your post.

Vaish said...

Really glad to know that children are getting educated on disaster management!
And had these 3 crisis been hitting india, it would have completely gone!!
Japan is a country that built themselves from a shatter! They are already aware of a similar such disaster and they are way too precautious..
The buildings in Japan were earthquake resistant to a great extent, that such a huge ritcher scale did not cause any massive building destruction...but most of the chaos has been caused by flood!!

Ana_treek said...

I was just reading in today's TOI that no one in the surrounding areas of nuclear reactors in India have any idea about disaster management..Govt is busy trying to cover their asses, they will think about such things when a situation arises and obviously, it will be too late then

tys said...

i have never been one to pin my hope with the government during disasters...after all they are our representatives and their actual, physical role will only come much after the disaster has stuck...

my point is, like you have tried to point out, we shud be including Survival skills, First aid skills etc, in the school cirriculam. Each individual should know what to do when faced with an emergency.

Basic survival skills is something every individual should know...infact i believe that this is a fundamental, mandatory knowledge which everyone shud have.

Sam said...

Good post. All points crisply put. I have personally been through the Gujarat earthquake and I know exactly how important it is for us to ask..this question that- How prepared are we?

Sameera said...

Good post! I have personally been through the Gujarat earthquake. I truly understand how important it is for us to ask this question!

sajeevkmenon said...

No country in the world has such a good disaster management system as Japan. But this was a natural catastrophe that has even tested their limits. If such a disaster were to happen in India we are not at all prepared!

subtlescribbler said...

We have been teaching disaster management at schools but there is LOT that has to be done! and by looking at Japan, lesson surely need to be learnt!
More than the natural calamity its our own absurd ,mindless constructions that r bound to cause harm...India surely need to work on it! a well knit post...



sarah

BookWorm said...

@subtlescribbler.... More than disaster management classes as also mindless constructions which i had also talked about, there is something more that Japan can teach us.

All the while, the spectre was happening on our TVs, we never saw any Japaneese women or (even for that matter men) cry, beat their chest and wail... we never saw any dead bodies floating in the waters... The traffic caused by people fleeing to the higher regions were disciplined, and people helped each other and there were no looting...

I think these are essentially part of disaster management..and this is what we need to educate people about rather than teach them how to stop a tsunami from hitting you or how to ward off a nuclear radiation by blowing your mouth....

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Thank you so much for contributing to the post, by giving your views. Shall be replying to all individualy, soon.

thanks.

RESTLESS

A Restless Mind With A Sensiti said...

Thank you so much for contributing to the post, by giving your views. Shall be replying to all individualy, soon.

thanks.

RESTLESS

Related Posts with Thumbnails