DISASTER MANAGEMENT: POLICY PAPER FOR EARTHQUAKE MANAGEMENT

(This is a policy for Earthquake Management – If you are from any Government, Non-Governmental Organizations or Industries, please feel free to write to me at:   mainakmajumdar9@gmail.com)

It was in the eighteenth century when thinkers like Malthus perceived that Nature was similar to an organization, which worked through checks and balances. If the earth was overcrowded, natural calamities occurred and reduced the population. On the other hand, humans possibly by its own choice maintained this balance through restraint and planning. Humans couldn’t but exploit natural resources if he/she has to live a comfortable life and on the other hand nature needs to maintain her stability. There need to be an equilibrium between the needs and growth, otherwise a breakdown occurs and the obvious question that surrounds us is to what degree can this disturbance be absorbed by nature. It’s true that our environment is bounteous but not infinitely so. The only intelligent way to solve this crisis is to reconsider the degree of exploitation which humans can afford for serving the purpose.

Emergency Management not only concerns environmental, social, financial and political set ups but also is eminently concerned with the acts of human in addition to its cognitive, effective and evaluative process. Behavior at the time of catastrophes refers not simply to visible political action but also to those perceptual, motivational and attitudinal components which craft for human political identification demands and his system of benefits, values and goals. Behaviouralism is one of the most important developments in this century. Now this new and modern approach is made applicable for the study of disaster management.

In simple words, behaviouralism emphasizes scientific, objective and value free study of political phenomenon as conditioned by the environment, particularly the behaviour of the individuals involved in the phenomenon. It’s from here came the concepts of ‘Society’, ‘Institution’, ‘Custom’, and the likes.

If for example someone mentions ‘the community’, we generally identify the particular reference on or after the context. He /She may be speaking of his home town or the ‘French Community’ or particular groups of place of worship or even about the nation. Again, if a speaker mentions ‘the crowd’, we may generally be sure that he is referring to say, ‘the rush hour crowd’ and not the ‘sporting crowd’. If we look deeply into this then one is clear that each of this represents a different kind of social phenomenon, but the context of conversation leads us to the correct choice. Each of the above ‘referents’ are provided by the circumstances. For example, when the sociologist speaks of ‘the community’, we are referring to a form of social organization which may be distinguished from other forms. We are interested in its common characteristics and in depicting its various types. We are interested again not only in this crowd or in that crowd, not merely in the description of a particular crowd at a particular time. The Sociologists here seeks to understand the crowd as a certain kind of complex social relations to contrast, say the way men behave in crowds from the way they behave in other kinds of groups. By nature human always desire to live in society and follows the rules and regulations of the state. If a person is left alone to live in a dense and dreadful forest, he/she will certainly feel extremely fed up with it and often sometime would certainly desire to be in the company of his fellow beings.

The present article focuses on impulse foundation for the communities at large and is another part of community based disaster management. ‘Community’ is a term we apply to a pioneer settlement, a village, a city, a tribe or a nation. Wherever the members of any group either miniature or a large form exist mutually in such a way that they share the basic conditions of common life, we call that a group of community. The work of a community is that life may be lived wholly within it. One can not live entirely within a business organization or a church; one can only live within a tribe or a city. The basic criterion of community, then, is that all of one’s social relationships may be found within it. There are communities, who are all inclusive and independent of others. Among primitive peoples, we sometimes find communities of no more than a hundred persons, as for example, among the yursk tribes of California, which are almost or together isolated. But modern communities and very large ones are much less self-contained. It’s rather economics and increasingly so, political interdependence, which is a major trait of our great modern communities.

A clear look into the theme would provide more details and the behavior they tend to take in retaliation to a natural calamity. We may live in a metropolis and yet be members of a very small community because our interests are circumscribed within a narrow area. Or we may live in a village and yet belong to a community as wide as the whole area of our civilization or wider. No civilized community has walls around it to cut it completely off the larger one, whatever ‘iron curtains’ may be drawn by the rulers of this nation or that.

Hence, if we take that a community is an area of social living marked by some degree of social coherence, then the next point of communication strategy becomes much easier.

Let’s now examine as to how this communication could help to built impulses for disaster reduction, risks and promote reconciliation before, during and after disaster and conflict through the process of change in behavior within the communities. It specially tries to focus on the core area between a pre-disaster and post-disaster management. It is true that media fail just where they should be strongest, that is, at reaching large number of people quickly and cheaply, where alterative means of contact are not immediately possible. However it is seen that radio broadcasts alone, when professionally produced over a long period of time, can change the way people behave and thus in turn influence the community.

Hence all together a new scheme could be taken up, so that we are able to boost the basic instincts of an individual based on the trained reflexes, which could save a human from the clasp of a natural disaster (critical time 30-40 seconds).

It may be termed as ‘Project Impulse Foundation’.

When an emergency is sounded, most of us happen to be nervous and there is obviously a change in our behaviour. There is also a change in relations within a community, since the matter affects all of us within.Slowly, when the emergency takes a shape of a Natural catastrophe, it’s that 30-40 seconds of ones basic instinct which either saves us or leads to death.

Forget Science and other known attributes, its just BASIC INSTINCTS as what exactly we do out of our own sudden thought, which helps us to take some quick decisions.

It’s the impulse and the quick reflexes that make us do things, which we normally won’t do. These are where we need to stress more and it could be done through a simple yet very powerful tool called ‘Impulse Foundation’. The idea takes its strength after identification of an opportunity for a new form of emergency management from the school of theaters and dramas.

The origin of the theater goes back to times beyond recorded history. Twenty five thousand years ago, two thousand years before Shakespeare, western theater was born in Athens, Greece. Between 600 and 200 BC the ancient Athenians created a theatre culture whose form, technique and terminology have lasted two millennia and they created plays that are still considered among the greatest works of world drama. Their achievements was very remarkable if one considers that there have been only two other periods in the history of theatre that could be said to approach the greatness of ancient Athens – Elizabethan England and perhaps the twentieth century.

Theatre has affected social science in many ways. One of the major attributes of the theatre is emergency management. In essence theatre or drama is not just about entertainment but have a strong social message associated with it, which directly and indirectly affects our life. We can channelize the enormous power of this soft part for increasing the impulse growth of the target audiences, not only within a large community, but also in communities far more urban or rural background and get access into their culture to blend the theories of emergency management into their life. This saves lives. This is the essence of ‘IMPULSE FOUNDATION’.

But for that we need to understand the communities and its sentiment as nowadays we find, what never existed in primitive societies, people occupying specific local areas which lack the social coherence necessary to give them a community character. For example the residents of a ward or district of a large city may lack sufficient contacts or common interests to instill conscious identification with the area. Such a ‘neighborhood’ is not a community because it doesn’t posses a feeling of belonging together – it lacks community sentiment.

The Project speaks of a concept of one world. This is our target, where the communication can speak its own strategies and opens its marvelous dramas on emergencies for the people of the world.

Today as we look forward to high definition television bringing satellite – transmitted pictures from around the globe, we sometimes dismiss radio as merely a quaint prologue to the present. Radio was and is more than that. It defined the twentieth century as much as the automobile. The first modern mass medium radio made America into a land of listeners, entertaining and educating, angering and delighting and joining every age and class into a common culture. The various entertainers in the thirties and forties – the ‘golden age’ of broadcasting – captured the imagination of millions. People talked them as much about the schemes of Amos and the Kingfish or the visitors to Fibber Mc Gee and Molly as they talk today about Murphy Browns new baby or the blast video footage on the TV News. Radio created national crazes across America, taught Americans new wage to talk and think and sold them products they never know they needed.

Radio brought them the world.

It was a new medium of radio at that time was to the printing press, what the telephone had been to the letter: It enabled listeners to experience an event as it happened. Radio which knows no geographic boundaries draw people together as never before. Sooner or later people wanted more of everything – music, talk, advice, drama. Radio meant that for the first time in history one person with a microphone could speak to many, influence them and perhaps change their lives. The concept borrowed the metaphor from a farmer scattering seeds across a field.

Now a single speaker could seed information, propaganda, entertainment, political and religious fervor, culture and even hatred across the world. The farmers phrase the word that changed the nation was broadcasting. It was the twenties, when we find that use of radios are slowly fading it out and the old dramas are becoming our memories but Radios has again emerged as the most necessary gadget coupled with the power of dramas and theaters with a new mission to reach remote places and save the world from disasters. This is the basis of project Impulsive Foundation.

It was in the mid eighties that broadcasters were faced with a set of opportunities as well as difficulties, in developing ‘socially useful’ radio programmes, designed to have an intended outcomes. In Afghanistan, where the war have left lives turned upside down, most schools and healthy centers had been destroyed, and they had to face the hazards post my millions of anti-personnel mines scattered from aircraft and farmers are facing newer challenges in cultivating crops and keeping animals alive. It was BBC along with Radio Afghanistan who was addressing those needs through their innovative dramas, which the locals were interested, although there were problems for effective social communication. But apart from the challenges, success always came in.

There were lots of pre-testing tests which was conducted prior to broadcast and people were able to identify the key messages that arose out of the programme. During later evaluations, the drama in which this analogy featured was the second most recalled programme. That project after following feedback from listeners and two local health services, it was established that radio was the primary source of information. It was this search for common ground that another International Non-Governmental Organization who specializes in using media to help populations in conflict and the post-conflict areas in Sierra Leone, Talking Drum Studio (TDS), undertook a number of activities to “strengthen communities to participate in building a tolerant, inclusive society for sustainable peace.” These activities included helping the local people and its production and creating good working relationships with the community, chiefs, army and police.

These had left with wonderful feedbacks from the war ravaged country of Sierra Leone. The people were quick to learn and remember facts from radio programmes. There were increase in knowledge and that the key information was the radio dramas. The fact which is to be seen is whether the same would apply to disaster prone areas as well. It is observed that people with access to radios do respond to ‘solutions-oriented’ entertainment programmes, particularly those broadcast in their local languages, which reflect their lives and with which they can identify.

It’s these programmes which can significantly affect our impulses or reflexes towards disaster management. The only factors that should be kept in mind are:

a) Dramas should be focused as well as entertaining

b) Programmes should be made after proper research for the target communities

c) Encourage local participation and find out innovative ways to involve local people

d) Programmes to achieve long term objectives

e) Programmes to also focus on success stories on other parts of the globe

f) Dramas to focus on vulnerable children and women

The project can definitely help the people to use their impulses/reflexes to save themselves from the grasp of a natural calamity in that crucial 30-40 seconds and would be a step towards creation of a Safer World for us as well as for our future generations.

Thanks a lot for reading.

Please send your feedback in the e-mail address given below.
Thanks and Regards,
Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

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