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ROLE OF EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTE IN LOCAL GOVERNANCE FOR DRR AND SUSTAINIBILITY. Dr. A. K. SINGH Asscosiate Professor, JTCDM, TISS and Principal Coordinator-TISS , Disaster Resilient Assam and Northeast Project Email : Disasterresilientassam

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Asscosiate Professor, JTCDM, TISS and Principal Coordinator-TISS , Disaster Resilient Assam and Northeast Project

Email :




India is one of the worst affected countries with respect to-

  • Exposure to Disasters (No., Types , Frequency and Intensity)
  • No. of Disaster-related deaths,
  • No. of Disaster-affected people

In India, it is usually seen that all the phases of disaster-related work — response, relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction — are managed and implemented by untrained personnel from both the governmental and non-governmental sectors.

  • The focus initially till the recent paradigm shift from post disaster to pre disaster was primarily on response, rescue and immediate relief, with rehabilitation, preparedness and prevention being relegated to the background and still hardly any coordination and collective action among agencies is seen for undertaking different tasks.
  • Hence, Disaster management in India has been marked by mismanagement, duplication, exclusion of affected communities and poorly designed policies
  • There has been minimal institutional learning from prior experiences, and there is also a dearth of professionals who are equipped to deal with a variety of hazards in their various stages, and who can plan and implement a holistic and complete disaster management programme.
  • Disaster management in India requires a total revamping in terms of approach and focus, and needs to move away from being a loosely bound set of ad-hoc, volunteer-based interventions to becoming a strongly established, discipline-centered, professional system that is based on people’s participation and the rights based approach.
  • Therefore ,TISS calls for another paradigm shift in disaster management framework of India from shifting the focus and onus of disaster risk reduction from the govt. to the people themselves with the govt. as a facilitator.

There are strong linkages between disasters and ‘development’ as we know it. A hazard becomes a disaster when it impacts on the vulnerabilities of people and regions.

  • These hazards interact with the inherent age old vulnerabilities (like poverty, illiteracy and ignorance etc.) of the region and its people; often result in disasters leading to insurmountable losses of life and property.
  • While hazards are not confined to particular regions or countries, their consequences are always more severe in poor and developing countries, and are related to social, economic, political and geographical factors, which influence vulnerabilities of people and regions
  • Over the past decade, disasters in countries of high human development killed an average of 44 people per event, while disasters in countries of low human development killed an average of 300 people each
  • Any effort towards disaster prevention and mitigation should be centered on the development of people’s and regions’ capabilities, and reduction of different kinds of vulnerabilitiesFor instance, physical, social, economic, occupational, psychological, and policy and programme induced.
  • A balanced and holistic approach to disaster management would incorporate monitoring and minimizing hazards, and reducing vulnerabilities of people and regions, with effective disaster response and recovery mechanisms being put in place to serve as ready fall back systems.

Priority 3 of Hyogo framework for Action 2005: 2015

Building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters broadly

  • Knowledge management
  • Education
  • Risk Awareness

Use of knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels.

This requires the collection, compilation and dissemination of relevant knowledge and information of hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities

information management and exchange
Information Management and Exchange

Provide easily understandable information on disaster risks and protection options

Strengthening networks among the disaster experts, managers and planners across sectors and between regions

Promote and improve dialogue and cooperation among scientific communities and practitioners

Develop local, national, regional and international user friendly directories, inventories and national information sharing systems

Institutions dealing with urban development should provide information to the public on disaster reduction options pror to constructions, land purchase or land sale

Update and widely disseminate international standard terminology related to DRR

educations and trainings
Educations and Trainings

Promote the inclusion of DRR knowledge in relevant sections of school curricula at all levels

Use of other formal and informal channels to reach youth and children with information

Promote the integration of DRR as an intrinsic element of the UN decade for education for sustainable development

Promote the implementation of programmes and activities in schools for learning how to minimize the effects of hazards

Develop training and learning programmes in DRR targeted at specific sectors

Promote community based training initiatives, considering the role of volunteers to enhance local capacities

Ensure equal access to appropriate training and educational opportunities for women and vulnerable constituencies; promote gender and cultural sensitivities training as integral components of education and training for DRR


Role of an educational institute in local development and sustainability though DRR-A case study of TISS

Since its inception in 1936, the Vision of the TISS is to be an institution of excellence in higher education that continually responds to changing social realities through the development and application of knowledge, towards creating a people-centred, ecologically sustainable and just society that promotes and protects dignity, equality, social justice and human rights from all. The TISS works towards its vision through:

  • Creation and provision of socially relevant and high quality professional education in a wide range of inter-disciplinary areas of Social Sciences to a larger number of students from all sections of the society in the country.
  • Facilitation of Autonomous Research and dissemination of knowledge.
  • Strategic Extension, Field Action and Advocacy: Training and capacity building of State and non-State institutions and personnel; initiating and facilitation of field action and Advocacy to demonstrate and facilitate creation of policies and programmes.
  • Professional response to natural and human-made disasters, through participation in relief and rehabilitation activities.

TISS, since its inception, has been regularly involved in disaster-related interventions, with its experience base in disaster management built over the years, through consistent engagement in disaster situations.

  • The Institute’s involvement has ranged from direct intervention to policy formulation.
  • TISS’s expertise lies in fostering participatory processes, and ensuring people’s entitlements through close networking with the community, state, and non-governmental bodies
  • TISS comprises of more than 175 faculty members who for the past seventy five years have been working on issues and areas related to various aspects of Disaster Management (addressing Vulnerabilities and the underlying root causes and dynamic pressures leading to increased Risk and susceptibility and reduced Resilience/coping capacity of communities and individuals) and in the larger context of the termwith almost all global leaders in the field including those working in India and the Northeast especially Assam (NDMA, NIDM; various SDMA’s; various State Administrative Training Academies and their Disaster Management Cells/units; Central and State Universities and Institutes; NGO’s, CBO’s, PRI’s and people and organizations right from the highest levels of Policy making and Implementation to the grassroot levels- The focus of our work has always been the Last Person in the Row and Last Mile Delivery.

‘’We found a difference in their work and the work of many others who were earnest and had done their best, but who did not have the training to do it well. There is a difference between the trained workers and the merely enthusiastic workers’’

Pandit Nehru made these comments on the role of TISS Volunteers in the Post-Partition Refugee Camps in Kurukshetra at the Inaugural Function of the TISS Deonar Campus on October 6, 1954.


While TISS has time and again contributed to disaster response in India, a review of the same reveals several strengths and weaknesses, and points to the requirement for a full-fledged Centre that would consolidate the work already done, and build on existing strengths to emerge as dynamic unit of research, education and action in disaster preparedness and response in South Asia.

It is in this context that the Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management (JTCDM)was established at TISS to develop qualified, skilled and committed human resources, and to provide support in terms of research, training, networking and policy advocacy in the country. The Centre is envisaged as a nodal agency for disaster management that will function through systems that complement, supplement, and work in close coordination and collaboration with the state and other agencies dealing with disasters.


The Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, on 6 May 2006.


Disaster management as an emerging academic discipline

  • Disaster Management is emerging globally as a full-fledged academic discipline. Since disaster response has primarily been a practitioner's domain, its boundaries have been permeable
  • People from diverse backgrounds including relief workers, engineers, social scientists, or medical professionals have worked in disaster management.
  • This has facilitated the growth of disaster management as a substantive field. However, as a field of practice, it demands specialisation to meet with the specific and dynamic challenges posed by disasters.
  • A Master's programme in Disaster Management should aim at enhancing knowledge, capacities, skills and perspective on disasters
  • While enabling an understanding of disasters from the vantage point of science and technology in the prediction, mitigation and response, it should foster a critical and reflective appreciation of current debates in disaster management within the framework of social and environmental justice, state and civil society dynamics, development, conflict and displacement, and globalisation. This is the endeavour at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Disaster management in higher education: A global review

An attempt was made to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the postgraduate programmes with Disaster Management content offered by national institutes in India and universities across the world. A detailed analysis on various dimensions covered by specific courses was conducted. Some of the key questions that guided this desk top review were:

  • 1) What is the range of Universities and Centres that offer a postgraduate programme in disaster management? What are the courses (subjects) that are often prescribed as electives and specialisations?
  • 2) Where are these courses located - i.e. in what departments and programmes and how are they structured?
  • 3) What has been the nature of course content and what areas of specialisation(s) are available in the context of disaster/emergency management?
  • 4) What is the duration of these programmes?
  • 5) What are the key features of the curricula and their integrative elements? Which areas are given greater importance, from what perspective?
  • 6) What are the strengths and missing elements in the curricula from the perspective of developing countries?

An in-depth review generated a list of 23 institutes/departments which conducted University level programmes and offered courses in disaster management.


Graph depicts the key areas of expertise/specialisation within which disaster management courses at Masters level are located within different Institutes.


Priority given to these fields/areas by different institutes- Key theme/ areas in Disasters covered in University Curricula


Worldwide disaster management courses are available at the following levels:

1. Diploma level programs.

2. Undergraduate degree level programs.

3. Graduate degree level programs.

4. Certificate programs.

A more extensive global review presents the analysis of the detailed information collected on disaster management studies in various colleges and universities worldwide from 187 courses (262 including trainings in 2007). For analysis purpose fact-sheets have been prepared for each program and presented in this report. In all fourteen different aspects of disaster management are considered for the evaluation of each individual program. The evaluation has defined five levels for indicating the depth of coverage of the aspect under evaluation. These levels are as follows:

A+ : Aspect covered to advanced level

A : Aspect covered to medium level

A- : Aspect covered to basic level

N : Aspect not covered

NI : Information not available


Nature of course structure and content

A review of course content suggested that or full range of areas or topics covered within the postgraduate programme in disaster management are:

i. Theories on risk, crisis and disasters (social science perspectives)

ii. Historical aspects of disasters

iii. Introduction to Disasters

iv. Risk and vulnerability assessment

v. Organisational aspects

vi. Principles, planning and practices in disaster management

vii. Health and safety issues

viii. Economic dimensions of disaster

ix. Insurances

x. Communication (ITC, skill building etc.)

xi. Social dimensions and dynamics (Social change, conflicts, gender issues etc.)

xii. Political dimensions (Role of State, Federal government, inter-organisational and external interventions etc.)


xiv. Engineering dimensions (Building technology, infrastructure, systems modelling, service delivery chains etc.)

  • xv. GIS and Remote sensing
  • xvi. Impact assessment
  • xvii. Psychological dimensions
  • xviii. Institutional building and related dimensions
  • xix. Security issues (terrorism, transport and airport security issues etc.)
  • xx. Record Management
  • xxi. Response, relief and recovery xxii. Legal dimensions
  • xxiii. Sustainability issues
  • xxiv. Pre-disaster preparedness
  • xxv. Community based approaches
  • xxvi. Research and Dissertation
  • xxvii. Case Studies and Field Experiences

From the above analysis, it is evident that a greater priority is given to the following dimensions

  • a) Engineering aspects
  • b) Risk and Vulnerability assessment
  • c) Principles and Planning aspects,
  • d) Communication and
  • e) Research (Dissertation)
  • f) Case Studies and Field Work.

From the initial observations it appeared that certain areas require greater emphasis with respect to managing disasters in the developing world; and they need to be introduced as part of the curriculum. These are:

  • a) Institution building, interaction, and governance (at different phases/ levels of disaster preparedness, reduction and management)
  • b) Social, Psychological, Economic and Legal perspectives of disasters and their management.
  • c) Environment, Livelihood and Disasters
  • d) Development, Conflicts and Disasters: Power and Inequalities
  • e) Local Knowledge Systems and Disaster Management
  • f) Public Health Services and Disasters

A curriculum, like the recipe for a dish, is first imagined as a possibility, then the subject of experiment. The recipe offered publicly is in a sense a report on the experiment. Similarly, a curriculum should be grounded in practice. It is an attempt to describe the work observed in classrooms that it is adequately communicated to teachers and others. Finally, within limits, a recipe can vary according to taste. So can a curriculum.”

Stenhouse, 1975, pp.4-5.


Postgraduate Courses in Disaster Management: A Comparison between the Developed and the Developing World


Questions for formulating significant learning goals

" A year (or more) after this course is over, we want and hope that students will ……….."

Foundational Knowledge

- What key information (e.g., facts, terms, formulae, concepts, principles, relationships etc.) is/are important for students to understand and remember in the future?

- What key ideas (or perspectives) are important for students to understand in this course?

Application Goals

- What kinds of thinking are important for students to learn?

o Critical thinking, in which students analyze and evaluate

o Creative thinking, in which students imagine and create

o Practical thinking, in which students solve problems and make decisions - What important skills do students need to gain?

- Do students need to learn how to manage complex projects?

Integration Goals

- What connections (similarities and interactions) should students recognize and make….:

o Among ideas within this course?

o Among the information, ideas, and perspectives in this course and those in other courses or areas?

o Among material in this course and the students' own personal, social, and / or work life?

Human Dimension/Caring Goals

- What could or should students learn about themselves?

- What could or should students learn about understanding others and/or interacting with them?

- What changes/values do you hope students will adopt?

o Feelings?

o Interests?

o Ideas?


"Learning-How-to-Learn" Goals

- What would you like for students to learn about:

o How to be good students in a course like this? (critical questioning) o How to learn about this particular subject?

o How to become a self-directed learner of the subject, i.e., having a learning agenda of what they need/want to learn, and a plan for learning it?

Goals Encouraging an Ideological Orientation

- What kinds of ideological orientations are important o Developing a strong value base

o Developing an appreciation of ethics and ethical practices

o Developing an understanding of 'praxis' and its significance


Core objectives of JTCDM

  • Reinvention of disaster management system in the country, — Starting at the level of conceptualization, the Centre aims to bring to the fore disaster prevention and preparedness, at all levels by facilitating the setting up of holistic, accountable and participatory systems for disaster response and mitigation and by laying the ground for people-sensitive, accountable and effective mechanisms for disaster response
  • JTCDM’s central role has been to create a strong cadre of disaster management professionals and institutions across the country that will provide research, policy and programme leadership, and work with diverse groups in disaster prevention, preparedness, and response.
  • To build capacities and resilience of a range of actors —governmental and non-governmental organizations, peoples’ groups, industry, the corporate sector, academic institutions and civil society.
  • Promoting a multi-disciplinary approach to the prevention and management of disasters involving all stakeholders esp. the community;
  • JTCDM has also engaged in research, networking and policy advocacy.

To initiate and strengthen theoretical, cross-cultural, empirical or action-oriented research on disasters, vulnerability and development.

  • To serve as a Resource Centre on disaster prevention, preparedness and response.
  • To create and strengthen networks for knowledge sharing, coordination of interventions and for policy advocacy.
  • Direct intervention and coordination in pre- and post-disaster situations, i.e., disaster prevention, preparedness and response.
  • Resource mobilization.
  • Disaster management requires a multi-disciplinary approach, with experts from both social and technical sectors having to work in tandem to develop and sustain integrated and holistic systems for disaster prevention, preparedness and response.
  • JTCDM’s agendas, activities and operations is being guided by:

The external side

of vulnerability


Entitlement Theory

Human Ecology Perspectives

Political Economy Approaches


Crisis & Conflict Theory


The internal side

Models of Access to Assets

Action Theory Approaches


Key Spheres of the Concept of Vulnerability

Multi-dimensional Vulnerability, encompassing physical, social, economic, environmental & institutional features

Vulnerability as a multiple structure, susceptibility, coping capacity, exposure, adaptive capacity

Vulnerability as a dualistic approach of susceptibility & coping capacity

Vulnerability as the likelihood to experience harm (human centered)

Vulnerability as an internal risk factor (intrinsic factor)

Widening of the Concept


External Drivers (Climate Change, Innovations, Globalisation)

Land Use Changes

Watershed Management


REALITY AXIS (Certainty)


Flood Event

Flood Preparedness, Dykes, Reservoirs


Evacuation, Relief, Early Warning

Flood Damage


Flood Disaster


Economic Sphere

Social Sphere



The Social Causation of Disasters

Natural Environment 1

Spatially varied, with unequal distribution of opportunities & hazards 2

Opportunities, locations & resources for human activities, e.g. agricultural land, water minerals, energy sources, sites for construction, places to live & work 3

Hazards affecting human activities e.g. floods, drought, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, diseases 4

Social processes determine unequal access to opportunities, and unequal exposure to hazards 5

Class – gender – ethnicity – age group – disability – immigration status 6

Social system & power relations 7

Political & economic systems at national & international scales 8



Root Causes

Dynamic Pressures

Unsafe Conditions



Limited Access


  • Power
  • Structures
  • Resources


  • Political Systems
  • Economic Systems

Lack of

  • Local Institutions
  • Training
  • Appropriate skills
  • Local investments
  • Local markets
  • Press freedom
  • Ethical standards

in public life

Macro Forces

  • Rapid population


  • Rapid urbanisation
  • Arms expenditure
  • Debt repayment


  • Deforestation
  • Decline in soil


Physical Environment

  • Dangerous locations
  • Unprotected buildings

& infrastructure

Local Economy

  • Livelihoods at risk
  • Low income levels

Social Relations

  • Special groups at risk
  • Lack of local institutions

Public actions

& institutions

  • Lack of disaster


  • Prevalence of endemic





Volcanic eruption





R = H X V





The trigger event

Time / Space

Nature of Hazard

Specific Hazard

Structure of




Structure of


Social Relations

Social Relations





Transition to


First round of impacts on livelihood


New Iteration




Reaction, coping,

adaptation, intervention etc

+ dynamic impacts


Normal Life

To the next disaster?

Or action for

Disaster Reduction?





4 Structures of domination

1 Social Relations

2a Households

2b Their resources

& assets

3a Income


3b Access


5 Choices of Household

9 Outcome of


8 Decisions

7 Household Budget

6 Livelihood

Births, deaths & demographic changes in time period


Objective of Coping Strategies

  • Survival in face of adverse events
  • Temporary denial of those needs higher up

The Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management, TISS -Major Activities

  • Academic Programs-certificate, diploma, masters, M.Phil, P.hD, Post Doct.
  • Training and capacity building- ASDMA Project
  • Research and Development
  • Publications and documentation –Working Paper, Articles, Reports, etc.
  • Networking and Advocacy
  • Direct interventions -Participatory developmental activities M Ward Transformation
  • Disaster response
  • Field Action Projects,
  • Consultancies and Extension
  • Seminars, Workshops, Conferences, Roundtables, Public consultations, Public meetings, Public lectures

Disaster response, consultancy and extension activities of JTCDM

  • Tsunami Response – South India (Since 2004)
  • Andaman & Nicobar Islands Project (Since 2004)
  • Kashmir Earthquake Response (Since 2005)
  • Mumbai Flood Response (2005)
  • Narmada and Barmer Flood Response (2006)
  • Mumbai Train Blasts (2006)
  • Preparation of Guidelines for the National Disaster Management Policy (2007)

Review of the Gujarat State Disaster Management Act (2007)

  • Disaster Response – Kosi Floods (2008)
  • Mumbai Terror Attack Response (Since 2008)
  • Taj Employees Psychosocial Care and Support (2008)
  • Cyclone Aila in West Bengal (2009)
  • Public Consultation on Disaster Management Plans in Maharashtra and Food Security and Food Rights in the State of Maharashtra (2008)

People’s Tribunal on Post-Tsunami Rehabilitation, Chennai (2008)

  • Flood in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (2009)
  • Post Tsunami Intervention in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Project for the State of Maharashtra


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