With topics ranging from enhancing competence in public financial management, and designing public policies to achieve citizen centric outcomes to managing India’s urbanization while balancing goals associated with the environment, a One- Month Immersive Online Intermediate Certificate Training Course titled ‘Contours of Public Policy in India in the Amrit Kaal’, was conducted by IMPRI (Impact and Policy Research Institute from September 1 to September 30, 2023. Catering to a diverse audience, the course aims to provide participants with a unique understanding of the challenges faced in contemporary governance from numerous perspectives involving economics, foreign policy, the role of media and civil society, and feminism in policy making, equipping them with the tools required to tackle policy issues.
On the 8th day, the second session on India’s Initiatives for Balancing Sustainable Environment with other goals was taken up by Professor Anil K Gupta, Head of Division, International Cooperation, Advisory Services, e-learning & Media Portfolio; Director of Projects & CoE; Full Professor of Policy Planning & Strategies, National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), New Delhi.
The session delved into the topic of disasters, shedding light on the evolving trends and transformations in this landscape. Professor Anil acknowledged the grim reality that despite humanity’s best efforts, such catastrophic events continue to occur, resulting in substantial damage and losses. These losses encompass not only infrastructure and economic setbacks but, most importantly, the loss of precious lives and the degradation of our environment.
Sectoral Contexts: Adapting to Changing Landscapes
The significance of understanding sector-specific contexts when addressing disasters came into focus. The ever-evolving dynamics in family structures, neighborhood interactions, and risk response mechanisms call for a nuanced approach. Professor Gupta emphasized that it is not just about the equitable distribution of resources; it’s about assessing their adequacy in the context of a changing societal fabric.
Revisiting the Environment, Climate Change, and Disasters
A pivotal moment in the session was the realization that disasters cannot be attributed solely to climate change. While climate change undoubtedly plays a pivotal role, it is intertwined with two equally alarming environmental shifts—alterations in land use and the degradation of natural resources. These three concurrent environmental transformations are reshaping the disaster landscape in unexpected ways. For instance, the intensifying heat in industrial zones is challenging the very foundations of safety systems.
Urbanization Challenges in the Face of Disasters
Urbanization and the influx of migrant workers into cities have posed formidable challenges during disasters. The overcrowded urban environments have exacerbated the spread of waterborne diseases, resulting in alarming mortality rates. Addressing these urban challenges necessitates a set of innovative solutions in disaster management.
Multi-Hazard Risk Management Amid a Pandemic
A poignant personal anecdote shared during the session vividly illustrated the complexities of multi-hazard risk management during a pandemic. The challenges of dealing with overcrowding, housing shortages, and concurrent heat waves during the pandemic added layers of complexity. The intricacies of evacuating people during cyclones while adhering to social distancing guidelines further underscored the need for adaptable disaster management strategies.
Business Continuity Management and Scientific Frameworks
The concept of business continuity management emerged as an exciting frontier in disaster preparedness. This proactive approach to sustaining essential business functions during and after disasters is gaining prominence.
A significant portion of the session delved into the importance of scientific frameworks for forecasting and prediction. Drawing from recent studies spanning over 25 years, participants discussed the meticulous mapping of climatic and biological disasters in India. These studies have been instrumental in establishing robust scientific frameworks to enhance preparedness and response.The session critically assessed the preparedness for cyclonic storms, especially on the historically less-vulnerable west coast. It raised thought-provoking questions about the accuracy of forecasting, the cooperation of local administrations, and the overall effectiveness of preparedness measures. The need for comprehensive death audits and thorough casualty evaluations was underscored as an imperative step forward.
Balancing Short-Term and Long-Term Sustainability
The discussion then highlighted the importance of striking a balance between addressing short-term challenges like floods and excessive rainfall and focusing on long-term sustainability. Leveraging scientific methods to investigate policy issues emerged as a crucial strategy. To build resilience, the underlying causes of vulnerability must be systematically addressed. The session stressed the imperative of mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) across various development sectors. It called for the customization of global policies to local needs and the harmonious blending of external knowledge with local contexts.
India’s Resilience Initiatives
The session spotlighted India’s resolute efforts in disaster response, including the establishment of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) dedicated to managing climatic disasters. It highlighted district-level adaptation plans and the formulation of environmental action plans to enhance preparedness.Several international initiatives were brought to the forefront, such as the Climate Resilience Framework and collaborative efforts within the G20. These initiatives underscored the importance of international cooperation in addressing forest fires, land degradation, droughts, floods, food security, and national security.
In summary, Professor Gupta’s session provided a comprehensive exploration of the evolving landscape of disasters. It emphasized the need for multi-pronged scientific approaches, and international cooperation to mitigate the multifaceted impacts of these complex challenges.
Acknowledgement: Srinitya Kuchimanchi is a Research Intern at IMPRI.
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