BUILDING HOMES THROUGH SOCIAL HOUSING

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Home is just not a structure for residing, it’s a place where one find solace and a shelter where one is together with loved ones. When human civilization evolved, caves use to be the place where men & women use to take shelter, which slowly modified into huts and later ameliorated into homes.

Times changed and with increase of technology after million of years, houses have become more sophisticated due to technological advancements. Today we have beautiful homes but few takers. With the increase of population, home building have been constrained due to land and space. Hence the solutions were skyscrapers with higher floors and great interiors. The biggest challenge was the cost as there were less floor space but high exotic interiors. These were specially targeted for the higher income group and not for the middle or below middle class people. The innovative concept was providing room in the skies. For many real estate players it was a profitable business and a fantasy world for the lower income groups.

As every business has its expansion and saturation, the real estate players now started wooing the middle class and as days passed homes were designed with extremely beautiful interiors at a cost so that common people may book the same with their savings. New townships became the mantra with all facilities. These initiatives did develop the regions in a massive way and we witnessed more vibrant greener regions as time elapsed. To add to these initiatives and as a helping hand, financial institutions like banks came forward to give loans under interests payable monthly. The real estate market was flourishing but again faced a saturation point where there were lesser buyers and more homes. These were times of global recession, national inflation, rising costs which hampered the growth. Then came the new concept of affordable housing where you get good quality shelters under affordable costs. The buying amount though varied from cities to towns, but still the purchasing value was on the higher side for middle income group to invest. Some observed that the high price was due to huge costs of the land, time consuming clearances etc. But the main untapped region was the lower middle income group, rural and slum dwellers. It’s a huge market and also had great demand. These problem was addressed through SOCIAL HOUSING.

Social Housing is a very innovative concept with the agenda – Housing for all. These was the opportunity where Real estate Developers can work with the Government to make affordable housing under public private partnerships. It’s very popular amongst the masses and people from all across the regions use to apply for the homes to be built under the social housing schemes.

Social housing also has its own challenges as some homes are built in places where there are less transport connectivity or communication. Dwellers use to find it extremely challenging if there are difficulties in water lines, gas pipelines etc. So, there may have been incidents, where even though Homes were allotted but has no takers. Inspite of problems, social housing has great demands with Government and Real estate Developers working on the same to make life easier. In fact social housing is the key to the bigger challenge – Housing for all.

Personally speaking social housing are the most innovative way to address the needs of the common people towards shelter for the shelter less. Corporates through their corporate social responsibility may like to help the common people so that Government and Private Sector join hands to create a nation where there are houses for all. These will also ensure overall development of the nation. Due to increasing population, we have food shortages, lack of clean drinking water and less homes. It’s through Social Housing opportunities the world can solve one of the biggest problems of shelter. With green technology and earthquake resistant designs, these houses can be the wonders of the world. Imagine a world where no one is homeless and we have homes for every family. That’s where I want to see my world progress. It’s our dream and let’s look forward to it in our near future.

(Above are my personal thoughts and views)

Mr. Mainak Majumdar, CSR (Disaster Management & Environmental Affairs) & Government Affairs Specialist

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BIG DATA ON NEED TO SAVE ENVIRONMENT

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‘Mother Earth’ was created may be around 4.54 billions years ago and today, we humans are in the process of creating its annihilation news.  Change in the global climate is a proven fact and  we are not heading in the right direction. Environment may not affect us directly now, but natural catastrophes do. Continuous cutting down of forests and dumping of pollutants in water bodies is a major cause for rising temperatures and call for an environmental disaster.
For all these billion years, this environment has provided us, food to eat, clothes to warp, clean water to drink and air to breathe. Humans have only taken its resources and have not sufficiently given back. Today I wonder, if our future generations will ever see clear sky, breathe pollution free air and drink clean water. I will not be surprised; if our future generations could only see forests in there digital tablets and may not observe the same in real life. The coming years do have a great scope for technological advancement and vast job opportunities in areas, which uses more resources from the environment only to exhaust and call our own doomsday.
Though chances are rare, have you felt the fresh air when you wake up early morning, have you ever watched those birds fly in that clear sky, have you ever seen the clear stream flowing in its own rhythm, have you ever seen those birds chirping from the forests these days? Imagine if all this vanishes one day and we have to go to a shop and ask for oxygen cylinders as we buy mineral water!
Go to any university and you may see that there are lesser students taking environmental studies as a course curriculum, as most think that it might not provide much monetary value as a career like other job courses. Most of us are not so much eager to know about our surroundings and hence we understand issues about environment less and provide more importance to technologies which ultimately destroys human’s very existence. Long back when I enrolled a course in Masters in Environmental Sciences from Bangalore University, many asked about the future in monetary terms. To them I replied that ENVIRONMENT is in itself the future for human’s existence and that it’s more about the passion to make our world green than about earning money. Today, there are openings in various Government, academic and non-Government organizations on environment.
Saving our environment can only be a reality, if we maintain a balance. Environmental Studies helped us to understand that we need to keep a balance and that we need to find some sustainable approach to keep a balance. The approach should be in areas concerning water, land, food and the air we breathe. All these are the basics of human survival. Let us take the example of water. It’s not the simple expansion of irrigation. It had an ecological and social dimension as well and was the key to rural transformation. Providing a limited but assured quantity of water to all urban households irrespective of their landholding is the key for water conservation. Now, to serve such dispersed need, the systems required had to be entirely different – technologically and socially. The population of the world tripled in the 20th century and now the use of renewable resources have grown six fold. Within the next fifty years the World population will increase by 40%-50%. Now this population growth coupled with industrialization and urbanization will result in an increasing demand of water and will have serious consequences in the environment.
Already there is more waste water generated and dispersed than at any other time in the history of our planet: more than one out of six people lack access to safe drinking water, namely 1.1 billion people and more than two out of six lack adequate sanitation, namely 2.6 billion people (Estimation for 2002, by the WHO/UNICEF JMP, 2004). One must know that these figures represent only people with very poor conditions.
Less availability of water leads to water stress. Water stress results from an imbalance between water use and water resources. The depleting resource leads to many tensions over neighbour’s, communities, districts, states and countries. So, it is a real fact that there is a water crisis today.
With this current state of affairs, correcting measures still can be taken to avoid the crisis to be worsening. There is an increasing awareness that our freshwater resources are limited and need to be protected both in terms of quantity and quality. This water challenge affects not only the water community, but also decision-makers and every human being. “Water is everybody’s business” was one the key messages of the 2nd World Water Forum.
We have the power to change our Earth in our own ways, if only we join hands. Let’s plant trees and let’s close all our water outlets when not in use. The Earth is our Home and let’s save it. Let’s Dream for a more Safer and Greener World for us as well as for our future generations.

The Above are my Personal Views:
Mr. Mainak Majumdar
(The writer is winner of two Gold Medals in Masters in Environmental Science and for last twelve years has been associated with assignments on Developmental Initiatives, Disaster Management and Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives in National Level)

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY PLANNING WITH THE CHANGING TIMES

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The term corporate social responsibility (CSR) is generally taken as a help done by the industries and corporate out of their profits. If we go back to the age of our forefathers, it was the elites, who use to generously donate due to their philanthropic attitude or due to fear of being ostracise. Generous people were more or less naïve then and this desultory made them grant money to those who may or may not require the same. We had moved a long way since then and these days we have CSR experts and institutions, which come up with white papers on the ways to ameliorate finances so that the money can be used for the larger help of the society.

The word philanthropy has its origin from Greece and it has its source from the word:  philanthropia which was used during the year 1600 – 1610 and meant love for mankind. The Greeks in those days use to donate money as one of the educational ideals and also to please Gods. This concept they first embodied in the benevolent God Prometheus, who dared to share divine fire with mortals and suffered Zeus’s wrath.  It was not just the Greeks but also the Romans, who took special interest in Philanthropy. As years passed philanthropy began to mean generosity. In recent years, philanthropy took new form, as helping the less benefitted in the society. Today it’s an idea to effectively fund the have-nots, so as to cope up with their present situations and is a responsibility for organizations. Hence it is now a serious discussion topic in board rooms and finding ways to spend percentage of their profits for the welfare of the society.

Previously corporate used to donate generously towards education sector, making it affordable for all. Now, researches are being done to find ways to make CSR serve causes in the social sector viz. building schools, roads, empowering women, helping institutions for the differently-able people etc. Industries are now investing with a premonition that through development, society will change for better.

Some Industries are however looking into a broader aspect in terms of their CSR. It’s not just about the Social Value Model, where companies are investing only about specific issues for non-economic reasons, but also extending it to business models where Industries are expecting better brand image and higher economics. Board rooms are also discussing on a third model, where the social investment can serve the cause, as well as bring business in a different ways. That model tends to work better as it helps the members of the public to learn from corporate, help their own income as well as help the industry make profits. That keeps all stakeholders in the same boat and it sails quite smoothly.

The question that crop up is what industries should do to make a good CSR plan with effective policies towards its implementation? The plan could be made based on an Industry’s core strength i.e. its product line. Based on the product line, effective planning can be made so as to move forward. For example, if the industry is based on hand washes, kitchen gels, then it’s quite clear that the industry is more focused on sanitation and its benefits. That’s one way of preparing policies towards effective CSR, which will help the masses as well as will improve brand image.

Secondly, CSR not only serves human development, but also it helps to restore development in times of crisis. For example, an area which is struck by a natural disaster needs help during those golden hours. Through CSR industries render relief during those hours of need, helping the tormented and distressed people in their life’s utter crisis. These help the industry to exhibit its social side and also gain trust of a brand as an organization which stood with its consumers during their time of crisis.

Corporate which serve both these purposes are amongst the most respected brand. Interestingly, most of the CSR initiatives are now targeted at community relations. It’s about understanding the community better and their needs and plan CSR according to that. It’s also about helping with your expertise to those who do not have the same skill to move forward. The best part of this strategy is to help and dream together. That’s how a successful CSR policy could be prepared to help for a social cause as well as build a better brand image for effective economic returns.

It is seen that long lasting community development projects does improve the image of the corporation than merely doing charities. It’s a reflection that people need help about solving their problems than getting benefited by money. This sentiment helps in increasing brand image and contributes towards higher trust and superior place in the stock market.  It’s in times of crisis; this reputation becomes an asset which was built over time and pay huge dividends. Hope through CSR one day we can create a more developed world for us as well as for our future generation.

(My Personal View)

Writer:  Mainak Majumdar

Government Affairs, CSR & Emergency Management

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‘Government Affairs’ is one of the crucial departments in an Industry. An Industry thrives when you do business for profit as well as have a social responsibility and abide by the law of the land. Desultory in any sector encourages loss and the company is sapped of its strength. All  is well till ‘Poseidon’ strikes and the Industry have to look beyond its abilities to control the predicament. Policy Makers start working day and night to control the situation as the law states that everything needed to be alright in a given territory. Amongst all the conundrums the onus falls on the head of the Government Affairs Specialists to come out with effective solutions.

Government Affairs do have a lot of functionality and one of them is to produce its brand as one of the best to media as well as the Government. When you connect with the needs of the Government and the agenda, you may push through your product line and market the same. Policies have always been an area of concern and delight for these specialists. This is justified by the fact that not all policies of Government and Regulatory Bodies go well with the Industry Goal or its product line, which makes the position of a Government Affairs specialist more complex. It’s the networking skills, diplomatic skills and negotiation skills that matters to ameliorate the situation. These experts need to transcendent their skills so as to normalize the situations. An effective ‘Government Affairs’ is just not about policies and media relations, it’s also about responsibility to deliver. When one negotiates and make promises, trust is gained when the organization as a whole delivers.

The situation is more eased when Government Affairs is clubbed with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). That helps as CSR in itself is a noble task and coupled with good business strategy one can make good breakthroughs. Some may disagree with the statement; however CSR gets added power when Government Affairs also join hands. Any Corporate Social Responsibility gets done by the Corporate, also brings visibility to the brand and people often tends to buy brands based on their ethics. That’s the reason; the World has some respected brands which Government of Countries and masses admire because of their ideologies and ethics. When CSR and Government Affairs are clubbed as one department, its add teeth to the existing forum. CSR deals with the policies related to welfare of the society at large and Government Affairs deals mostly with policies related to products sellable to Government through its projects. Both these departments have one similarity, that is scalability in terms of brand image and brand ethics keeping aside the business strategy. That saves an Industry as well as the corporate from a disaster. 

All through this analysis, it is now being felt by some that Government Affairs together with CSR do provide an interesting and challenging opportunity coupled with roles that help Industries to make a good brand image. Both departments have the ability to initiative projects which may be beneficial for the nation as well as for the Industry. 

(The Above Are My Personal Views)

– Writer:   Mainak Majumdar

GLOBAL WARMING & NEED FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT

These days it is discussed in some reports that Global Warming may increase the chance of extreme flooding as the warming climate will hold larger quantities of moisture, which will lead to a heavier rainfall.

Report states that Delhi, India faces one of its warmest winter in 114 years. Now the weather experts predicted that the summer of 2016 is going to be more blazing one in this South Asian Continent and the people may face decline in food grains, production leading to vertical food prices, farmer suicides after crop failures, heat wave causalities etc.

No rainfall in the northeast India and sudden floods in ‘barren’ Rajasthan was some incidents which still looms in one mind. Forget it, here are some interesting facts. People are finding hail storms in UAE region and parts of Europe saw a blinding heat wave, which killed many, especially the elderly, since they just don’t know how to cope with these unpredictable extremities.

The irrefutable scientific truth is that there is an evident increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere and oceans in recent decades. Some states that the warming documented over the last 50 years is due to human activities. The increasing amount of carbon dioxide and other green house gases are the principle reasons behind the human – induced reality of global warming.

Although carbon can be reduced suddenly and naturally into the atmosphere from volcanic activity, it takes many thousands of years for it to be removed permanently by natural processes such as rock weathering. Global warming has assumed serious proportions and is causing the Greenland ice cap to disintegrate far faster than anyone has predicted. A study of the region’s massive ice – sheet, warns that sea levels may as a consequence rise more dramatically than expected. Scientists have found that many Greenland’s huge glaciers are moving at an accelerating rate – dumping twice as much ice into the sea than 5 years ago – indicating that the ice –sheet is undergoing a potentially catastrophic break up.

The term “Weather” refers to the day changes in the state of the atmosphere at a specific location. It includes variables such as temperature, humidity, windiness, cloudiness and precipitation. Climate can be defined as the average weather, but the climate of a given region is also defined by the expected year – to – year variation in the weather variables. That is two regions that have the same mean annual or seasonal temperature, but where one region experiences much greater variation from one year to the next, have different climates. The climate of a given region however depends on much more than just the atmosphere. It rather depends on all the components that interest together to form part of the climatic system.

This climate system consists of the atmosphere, oceans, biosphere, cryoshere (ice and snow) and lithosphere (Earth’s crust). Each of these components influences and is influenced by others, so that they form part of a single system. The Sun in contrast, is not part of the climatic system because the climate cannot affect the Sun. Rather, the Sun is said to be the external forcing. The components of the climatic system are linked by flows of energy and matter. The energy flow occur as solar and infrared radiation, as sensible heat (heat which can be directly felt or sensed) as latent heat (related to evaporation and condensation of water vapour, or freezing and melting of ice) and through the transfer of momentum between the atmosphere and oceans. The major mass flow involves water, carbon, sulphur and nutrients such as phosphorus (P) and nitrate.

The behaviour of the climatic system depends on how these energy and mass flows change as the system changes. Thus any change in the major mass flows will lead to a disturbed climatic system and thus lead to a natural disaster. This is the time, when you can hear strange phenomenon like   “DESERT INTO A SEA…” The increasing size of the ozone hole adds to the problem.

Human made green house gases are being released into the atmosphere are almost ten times faster than it was before. The more we pollute the air, the more music we are going to face.

At last, this simple brain of mine, is just left with one thought: Is it is a HUMAN MADE DISASTER or NATURE’S WRATH?

To end I quote:

We are the birds of

the same nest,

We may wear

Different skins,

We may speak

Different languages,

We may believe in different religions,

We may belong to different cultures,

Yet we share the same

Home – OUR EARTH.

Born on the same planet

Covered by the same skies

Gazing at the same stars

Breathing the same air

We must learn to happily

Progress together

Or miserably perish together,

For human can

Live individually,

But can survive

Only collectively.”

 

(My Personal View)

Writer:

Mainak Majumdar

NEED FOR SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS AND ITS DEMERITS

Our modern world is full of technologies, useful gadgets and all these had become part of our daily routine life. Today, we are in a web of connectivity, a world where electrons and protons do compose larger part of our life style and devoid of these tools we find difficult to survive. The flashy digital pictures, the ability to share in an electromagnetic speed reaching thousands; all adds to our scientific progression as we enjoy with awe the science miracles.

Many a times we discuss amongst us these themes and as we converse, we are mesmerized with the modern world and its wonders. Sometimes this heart asks this innovative brain as to how the 17th century and 18 century people use to live without electricity, without internet, without this spider web of connectivity of phone, emails, networking websites and all other facilities. What was the world then and what is the difference with the World of today. Are we much better than the populace who lived then with our increasing technologies thriving daily?

A reply from this soul stated that we have increased our progression in so many aspects of life and at the same time we have lost many wonderful things, which use to bring enormous joy to ones senses. The art of letter-writing, that purchase of a post-card, to write a letter with the fountain pen, still mesmerizes this heart. A father from a distant reads in an inland letter and enjoys every line that his son had written about his life in the Silicon Valley then. The same feeling is equally reciprocated, when I received an emotional letter from my biological parents about their loneliness from home far away in Bengal. These days’ short messaging service and electronic mails have reduced the gaps, but it had failed to gather the emotions attached with the paper envelope.

Life has become so easier, yet so complex that in today’s world there are huge number of health problems, which were not visible then and we now have common words like blood pressure, blood sugar and so many types of problems due to stress and an emerging urge for competition. There are people who get emails every second which increase their stress level and we no longer have the time to stand for a moment and enjoy the forest, that watershed, that beauty of a flower or write a letter to our near and dear ones through post. Greeting cards have also now emerged as an online solution to our lessening time and the feeling of buying a card, writing on the same and devoting some good thoughts are gradually ‘deleted’.

The humans earlier though had their own problems but they were not stressed. On the other side they were more peaceful and had the time to exchange greetings. Life is even wonderful today and one will enjoy more of it, if one moves out of that connectivity to be with one’s family where no phone calls from office, no emails and no short messaging services haunt.

I and my wife still love listening to music, find time to watch theaters and do love to buy greetings cards and post them. We find time to switch off our ‘connectivity’ and listen to old radio stories narrated by orators. These may sound to be old fashioned but my inner heart loves to extract joy from things which are gradually becoming extinct.

The modern world is slowly giving way to old world’s rituals of early rising, performing yoga, limiting to lesser connectivity and giving time to oneself, family and friends. Some does gardening, some does writing, some listens to music and some loves reading. Modern world provides the comfort and the Old world provides food for our soul and a proper balance of both makes one’s life perfect and joyful.

(My Personal Views)

Writer:

Mainak Majumdar

The write-up is dedicated To my wife Chetana and my cousin brother Arindam for their inspiration always.

 

START UP AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Many of us had always tried to find the reason of our birth. It’s the same reason, why some of us struggle hard to make our own innovations and start-ups. Some goes through troubling times and some day-dreams. Today, I thought of addressing the opportunities of doing something by implementing ideas. It’s a challenge though, but prospect comes to those who identify those challenges and moves forward by addressing them. That’s where we find success and failure. In this world, there are hundreds of new start-ups and budding entrepreneurs and many find numerous hardships when they try to set up their own infrastructure. Some faces innumerous losses resulting in deep mental anxiety. Heroes are those who stand against all these challenges to build an empire of their own. The reason of their elevation is because they believed in something greater than them.  Life is not about me and you; it’s about being part of something greater and by doing higher good by taking responsibility. Success is all about wellness and happiness of others. It’s about providing opportunity to give and receive, about doing something for the welfare of humanity, about connecting with all and it’s about doing ethical business out of it.

In today’s world more and more educated youngsters are looking for employment and there are many who are trying hard to make their own business. They do so by finding the needs of the society and addressing their problems. When several like-minded individuals, who supports your concept and your wish to do greater good joins your dream, you succeed. For anything, to be successful, you need not see the finances which you want to make out of your initiatives, but it’s all about how much you can contribute to this world and that’s when people joins you to make your dream a reality. Generation of revenue automatically follow. These days, frugal innovation has lots to play in making better and affordable technologies for all.

That’s the reason major corporates are trying to do research and development in frugal innovations. Innovations that can change the world for better with cheaper and more developed technologies. Let’s arise and awake to make our world a better place, let’s join the movement of entrepreneurship, let’s support newer affordable innovations, let’s make life easier and let’s encourage start- ups.

Let the spirit of entrepreneurship remains in all and let’s make sustainable investment by our own efforts to make other’s life better and thus contribute towards a more developed world for us as well as for our future generations.

(My Personal View)

Writer: Mainak Majumdar

GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS AND ITS CHALLENGES

Many in this world have the notion that the term Government Affairs in an organization, is related to lobbying. However, to me personally Government Affairs do not mean that it’s about lobbying with a lobbyist group and on the other hand there are instances where the Government Affairs Department in an organization have taken initiatives with the Government for increasing the brand value of the organization and also have contributed for social development. Government Affairs is more than all these achievements. It’s actually deals with big or small projects with a difference. In this world where every move has its own challenge, a good expert in Government Affairs need to have a good understanding about the subject in which the particular job is assigned in addition to excellent breakthrough skills in pushing the agenda of the organization to the Government. In short, the Government Affairs department need to formulate superior strategies and policies to jointly work with the Government so that it serves business as well as the community.

Amongst all key departments, this is one of the key divisions for any business as well as projects to succeed as this is the key contact between the relevant authorities as well as internal departments of the organization. In fact a Government Affair specialist not only propagates the brand but also serves the organization as well as the society. A bigger challenge arises when a said organization faces a crisis. When the entire management tries to set the tune in order, the onus of setting things right so as to put the rising tide in ones favour lies with this Government Affairs department. Starting from marketing a new product to the corporate, Government as well as community to relevant regulatory authorities, an executive in Government Affairs need to manage all.

We often observe that it needs a lot of advertisement to bring a product to the market, but does it matter much, if it does not serve any purpose on ground. An organization’s key departments may be product management, production and planning, purchasing department, the stores, design and technical support department and all need to move ahead with the basic research based on the needs of the community. When we talk about this community, there are various laws and regulations to do something concrete on ground. That’s where the Government Affairs department plays a key role to connect. A Government Affairs executive needs to make research on the recent happenings to use one’s intellect to form projects. So, it’s not just about having numerous contacts but what matters most is how serious one is to effectively to take ones agenda forward with presentations, communication, knowledge and diplomacy. While the job of a Government Affairs Department is fascinating, but it’s full of challenge as it’s always mixed with knowledge coupled with diplomacy which makes the job more difficult.

There is also a need to understand the details of the policies and projects undertaken by the Government as well as other International Agencies in a particular sector so that an expert in the field of Government Affairs can formulate new policies. It requires a lot of reading and understanding to make oneself equipped with the global and local trend in a particular sector where one is making a difference. So, though some may say that it’s one form of lobbying, technically speaking, it’s not so. It’s about calculative move towards pushing the organization agenda with all stakeholders for the betterment of the organization, the brand as well as the community at large. Some may disagree as it’s always not so, as the Government Affairs may tend to have an agenda for the organization and not for the community. While a perfect Government Affairs executive does also serve the community at large, however it depends on the type of human and how eager one is about the passion of doing business as well as serving society with the help of all relevant authorities.

Above Are My Personal Views:

Writer has a decade experience in Disaster Management, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Business to Business & Government Affairs.

(MAINAK MAJUMDAR)

OUR DREAMS

 

Prayer to Sun

Dreams are wonderful thoughts of one’s mind. Some dreams are scary, some are fearful, some are pleasurable and some are filled with such joy that one goes in a state of euphoria. Looking deep inside, one will find that good dreams are the manifestations of one’s wish to create that fantasy. Any dream which in the future manifests itself in the form of new creation; is a blessing. Blessed are those who see dreams with open eyes and create a better world for themselves as well for the future generations.

Everyone dreams and there are various forms of dreams. Some dreams to live a better life, some for better opportunities and some for better financial income. There are others who dream for newer innovations which may affect directly or indirectly the lives of masses in a better way. Whatever the type of positive dreams may be, it always brings forth a sense of ‘hope’.

Hope is a positive attitude through which one soul moves ahead inspite of challenges and make ones dream real. However, the question arises if one feels happy after ones achievement. To me personally personal achievements for oneself will lead to happiness but also will give rise to desires. So, the next time when ones second level of desire is not fulfilled, the same soul tends to remain unhappy.

So, what is true happiness? True happiness is achieved when ones dream unites with higher good and serves humanity. It is felt when you watch your actions perform greater good. If your actions affect even one individual in a positive way, then your dream is blessed. The level of happiness in serving others is so high that its above any form of desires, ego and pride.

When we reach our office to perform, our soul works either to do our duty as the opportunities’ may be good or there is an opportunity to serve higher good. There is significant difference between the two. In both the cases, there will be salary involved, but the type of duty is different.

So, the next time you reach your work place, it is good to leave behind your ego  and to focus on to find ways to serve higher good through ones work.

Even a sweeper find solace that he/she works daily to remove dirt and that’s a requirement to live a good life, a clerk may do that extra work to clear files which are pending for long and thus help those in need, a manager whose duties may be diverse, may walk that extra mile to work towards better brand at lesser cost and innovative ideas through which good products may reach masses at much lesser price, a telecaller holds call and work towards solving problems.  There are thousands of fields in which a little bit of extra work and passion can really make wonders. Its not hard, but it’s the determination to move ahead towards creation of a better society.

So, getting true happiness from your work depends on how you serve higher good through your work. This is a challenge but personally speaking true happiness can be felt when your work helps others. Its also true that not all innovations are good, but blessed are those who have changed the lives of every human for better. That’s the reason, we remember names of icons who had toiled for us in the fields, have done that extra work so that we live a better life, the fruits of which we still cherish today.

Next time you see someone doing good things for you, try to pass the same good karma to someone else and the chain of good deeds will create a better life for all. Lets dream for a better future for us as well as for our future generations.

(Above is my personal opinion)

Mainak Majumdar

TSUNAMI DUE TO EARTHQUAKES: NEED FOR DISASTER (CHEMICAL/NATURAL) MANAGEMENT

tsunamiearthquake

Tsunami’s due to Earthquakes are very dangerous. A few steps can save your life. The given list is of personal advise/suggestions. Please check with Local Disaster Management Authorities for any eventuality:

BEFORE:

1. Find out if your home is in a danger zone. Know the height of your street above sea level and distance of your street from the coast. The Evacuation orders refer to these points.

2. Please be familiar with the Tsunami warning signs as this can be caused by an underwater disturbance or an earthquake.

3. People living along the coast, should take this signs as a warning signal.

4. A noticeable rapid rise or fall in coastal waters is also a sign that a Tsunami is approaching.

5. Make sure that all your family members know how to respond to a tsunami.

Prepare evacuation plans much early; don’t take chances in case of emergencies. A few seconds of delay can take your life.

6. Please keep all the disaster supplies on hand, like first aid box, flash light and extra batteries Also keep all your important documents along with your insurance policies in a bag, so that while evacuating, you can take those with you.

7. Develop your own emergency communication plan. Incase family members are separated from one another during a tsunami (A very real possibility as you can be in work and your children might be at home), have a plan of getting back together.

8. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “Family Contact”

9. In case of emergency, please call the Disaster Management Authority of your respective Government or the Red Cross or your local disaster management office.

DURING:

1. Please listen to the Radio to get the latest emergency information. Keep portable radios in

case of emergencies.

2. If you hear an official tsunami warning or detect signs of a tsunami, evacuate at once.

3. Climb to a higher ground as early as possible.

4. Remember that a tsunami warning is issued, when the authorities are almost sure that a tsunami may happen. So, please don’t take chances.

5.  Stay away from the beach. Never go to the beach to see a tsunami coming.

6. Return home only when the authorities advise you to do so.

7. Do not assume that one wave means that the danger is over. The next wave may be larger than the first one. Stay out of the area.

AFTER:

1. Stay tuned to a battery-operated radio for the latest emergency information. Help the injured or trapped persons.

2. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Please call for help.

3. Do remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance- infants, elderly people and people with disabilities. Please stay away from damaged buildings.

4. Do return home, when authorities instruct you to do so. Enter your home with lot of concern.

5. Check for electric short circuits and live wires. Please do not use appliances or lights until an electrician has checked the electrical system and open windows and doors to help dry the building.

6. Check for also gas leaks if any- if you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building.

7. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you have turned off the gas, the gas should be turned on by a professional.

8. Check for sewage and waterlines damages.

9. Please also call the water company, if your water line is damaged.

After all these, I just want to say, that please don’t panick. Follow the rules and you will be fine. After all, there is so many agencies as well as your Respective Government to take care of you. So, have faith in God and you will be safe…

Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Writer
Website:  http://www.theideas.in/ 

NEED FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT, BASIC RESEARCH AND EARTHQUAKE MANAGEMENT

Higher Good

When one thinks of Disasters, it naturally crosses one’s mind if only it had been averted. Disasters are by their very nature unpredictable and happen inspite of the best efforts. It appears to be so sudden and powerful that one attributes it to ones fate. This is what make each of the disasters remarkable and larger than life. Even though all precautions are taken, yet they happen and the sheer ferocity of their occurrence brings terror to one’s heart. It is hard to believe that except for a chance event of the affected people being part of the disaster, they might very well be alive.

The scene of the disaster is heart-rending and what comes to mind is the horror of what happened and one is compelled to feel sorrow for the victims of the disasters.Whether it is the Hurricane Katrina, Wilma, Recent Earthquake in India, Tsunamis, Chernobyl Nuclear Tragedy, Bhopal Gas Tragedy (India), Hurricane Andrew 1992, cyclone at Darwin Australia (1974) etc; each of the disaster has a unique story to tell: if only it could have been avoided and here lies the importance of pre-disaster management policy.

Some times our stereotypical attitudes and lack of proper policy implementation often leads to failure to recognize THAT RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT are inextricably linked and part of the same on-going process. It is now being acknowledged that disasters an wipe out years of development and can dramatically increase vulnerability An increasing number of Governments and International Organizations are promoting risk reduction as the only sustainable solution for reducing the Social, Economical and Environmental impacts of disasters. Risk Reduction strategies includes vulnerability mapping identification of areas that are safe for settlement and development adoption of building codes based on disaster resilient engineering and on local hazard risk assessments and enforcing these plans and codes by economic and other incentives.

I want to stress on the points of local capacities and pre-disaster management to safeguard the precious lives of our brothers and sisters of my planet. One of the most important of these concerns is to build local capacities. The rationale here is based on recognition that local communities have developed their own, indigenous, preparedness and mitigation activities based on their extensive experiences of living with disasters. (All too often in the past, these have been overlooked or undervalued by Disaster Management Specialists from Outside)

Let me give some examples:

In India, one tribal group living in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands understood the coming of the arrival of the slayer Tsunami and fled to a safer place long before the killer waves would have engulfed them. An art of their own, passed from generations to generations. In Africa, there are a lot of food shortages due to drought; but they are able to prevent full blown famine by employing a variety of ‘coping’ mechanisms that allow them to ride out the hungry season until the next harvest. Also I believe that successful disaster prevention depends partly upon being able to predict these crisis before they happen. Though Disasters happen with great regularity, I believe that we should do research as how to stop these natural calamities rather than forecasting it’s arrival.

To that effect, we should stress the need for natural barriers for cyclones and hurricanes, rainwater harvesting methods for continuous supply of water even in the driest seasons, concepts on recharging of groundwater in the driest part of the world. Stressing the need to use methods for liberation of energy from the faults in the earth-strata, so that the release of the enormous energy from the bottom of the earth will stop earthquakes happening! Also we should stress on the afforestation initiatives in catchment areas basins.

I believe this basic research can enable us to understand the water-soil-climate system better. This can lead to new thinking and new avenues of action, which can yield larger stable production within the existing constraints.

The effort spent in basic research and the policies obtained from those pays for it many times over, though not necessarily immediately.

I do believe that you will definitely find this website ( http://www.naturaldisastermanagement.com ) interesting. We would request you to send your views and suggestions by filling our ‘Contact Us’ form.

The views given above are personal.

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Writer

Website:   http://www.theideas.in/

REMEMBERING THE ‘TSUNAMI’: NEED FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT

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Nature rules us all. The bountiful nature that sustains the entire living world on our planet has a furious face as well. Traumatized by the towering waves of Tsunami – the most savage force of nature – that hit the South-East Asian Coastlines, humankind is reminded of it’s helplessness in the face of Nature’s fury, although timely warning of such unstoppable disasters can surely help in lessening the overall devastation.

Have you ever imagined gigantic sea waves, moving nearly at the speed of a jet plane, appearing without a warning and hitting the coastlines like a ‘water bomb’. Loaded with enormous energy, the killer waves wreck havoc by flooding several kilometers inland, as they flatten houses and wipe out villages, uproot electric poles, throw cars into swirling waters and toss boats ashore all in a mad furry and finally, drag thousands of hapless victims out to the Sea as they recede. Sounds of pathetic wails engulf the area as loved ones are separated from each other and some forever… Leaving a trail of total destruction, the ruinous waves simply spell disaster. Unfortunately, this is not a scene from a horror movie but is a real life happening.

This natural disaster, known as ‘tsunami’ (soo-NAH-mee) – a destructive, ocean-riding wave created by an undersea disturbance – struck the coastal areas of South-East Asia in the early hours of Sunday, 26th December, 2004. Caught unware by the waves of doom by the fury of sea waves were scores of human lives and suddenly as the hell broke loose, the beautiful beaches brimming with life a few hours ago, transformed into graveyards with dead bodies lying amid torn fishing nets, smashed boats and debris strewn all around.

Millions suffered the terrifying burnt of the assault while thousands of people died an unnatural death. The worst hit nation is Indonesia where a staggering one lakh are estimated to have perished in the wake of this mammoth devastation. Sri Lanka was also hit very brutally by tsunami; as the death toll has been about 31,000 in this island nation.

Tsunami is a Japanese word represented by two characters; tsu and nami. The character tsu means ‘harbour’ while the character nami means ‘wave’. Most tsunami is occured in the Pacific Ocean. Some deadliest Tsunamis are: November 1st, 1755 (Lisbon, Portugal and much of Europe) killed 60,000 people. August 27th, 1883: Eruptions from the Krakatoa volcano fueled a tsunami; killing 36,000 people. June15th, 1896: Sea waves as high as 30 meters, spawned by an earthquake , which swept the east coast of Japan killing 27,000 people. March 27th, 1964: known as ‘Alaskan Good Friday’ earthquake that measured 8.4 on Ricter Scale, generated a tsunami and killed many people in Cresent City, northern California. July17th, 1998 an earthquake of magnitude 7.1 generated a Tsunami in Papua New Guinea that killed 2,200 people.

Though Tsunami’s are often referred to as tidal waves but this is incorrect as tides can also happen due to gravitational influences of the Moon, Sun, and Planets. A point to note is that tsunami’s are not always due to ‘Seismic sea waves’, as they may also be generated due to landslides, volcanic eruptions and quite rarely by the import of a large meteorite falling in the Ocean.

The Asian toll took over 1,50,000 lives, the death toll in India rose to 9,451 by January 2nd, 2005 with 5,511 persons missing. The number of deaths stood at 812 in the Andaman and Nicober Islands, 574 in Pondicherry, 166 in Kerala and 106 in Andhra Pradesh. Around 5,421 were missing in the case of Andaman and Nicober Islands; out of this; 4,657 were missing from Katchal Islands alone. An estimated 10,000 people are said to have died in the Nicober group of islands. The islands were badly hit, both, beacuse of their proximity to the epicentre of the earthquake and the fact that the tectonic activity actually led to the subsidence of the islands. Great Nicober, the southern most island in the group is about 150 km from the epicentre at Banda Aceh in Sumatra in Indonesia. A good indicator is the fact that the light house at Indira Point, the southernmost tip of Great Nicober Island, now stands in the ocean waters, when earlier it was at least about 100 metres inland from the high tide line.

In the first few days of the tragedy, little was known of the destruction that had occured further South in the Central Nicober group comprising the inhabitated islands of Nancowry, Camorta, Katchal, Trinket, Chowra, Peressa and Bompoka and the Southern group where there were human population on Great Nicober, Little Nicober, Pilomilo and kondul. The worst hit region by the Tsunami was Indonesia, which lost more lives than any other country. Dozens of bloated bodies littered the streets of Banda Aceh city as soldiers and desperate relatives searched for survivors of the earthquake and tidal waves. Several hundred bodies collected by the emergency workers lay under plastic tents and rotting on December 27th, 2004. Dozens of bodies were laid in ruins in Banda Aceh, capital of Aceh province. In sumatra a million people were left homeless. Villagers in Sunadon district were picked through the debris of their ruined houses amid the smell of decomposing bodies. Atleast 4,491 persons were killed on Sumatra island and on Nais, an isolated island that lies west of Sumatra. So, apart from India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, countries affected are Thailand, Malaysia, Somalia and Maldives.

The titanic tsunami that wrought unprecented death and destruction in South and South-east Asia will go down in history as one of the greatest natural calamities of modern times.

The Titanic Tsunami that wrought unprecedented death and destruction in South and South-East Asia will go down in history as one of the greatest natural calamities of modern times. The great disaster caught the people and the Government off guard and in a matter of minutes, snuffed out more than 1,50,000 lives across more than twelve countries. The number of people rendered homeless might run into millions as no estimate is immediately available as to how many children have become orphans or how many women have become widows and how many families have been wiped out in a single sweep. The biggest ever International relief operation was on; as the fear of an epidemic loomed large.

The catastrophe spawned by tsunami once gain underscored the need for a well-planned disaster management; it did show that we are totally ill-prepared to cope up with such kind of crisis, natural or man-made.

Years passed but still that old question comes to my mind; Are we ready for another Tsunami?” If History repeats itself; shall again our brothers and sisters have to meet the same fate, which was faced by the people on 26th December, 2004?”

The enormity of the tragedy that overtook South Asia would have been eased the countries had a good international warning system and good awareness programs about the do’s and don’ts in the fall out of a deadly disaster (Pre-disaster management policies).

The Department of Space, India have already established more than 250 cyclone warning receivers that can be activated via satellite; all these is very useful for tsunami warning. more such receivers is the need of the time. The time has also come to stress on community education keeping along with the disaster management theme of this year that “disaster Management” should begin at School. This will enable the people to know exactly what they should do; when the warning is sounded.

Disasters like cyclones, droughts, floods, earthquakes, Tsunamis and now biological and along with man-made tragedies along with communal riots due to race, ethnicity or religion is leading to Social disasters, may become burning issues in the years to come. We have to join hands to stop it happening and celebrate with the true spirit of humanity to make a disaser free world for us as well as for our future generations.

So, what is required is a comprehensive blueprint as to how to cope with such crisis in both the short-term and long-term manner. There need to have good mass awareness programs stressing the importance of pre-disaster management policies; along with that there needs to be social, physical, emotional or physcological and economic rehabilitation in the wake of a massive disaster. Ever step need to be taken to help the victims forget for ever, the trauma they have taken gone through.
Its true that this is not an easy task.

The orphans need a home and parents who can adopt them. Most of the victims have to start life a fresh begining with a new home and a new vocation. Its a gigantic task where the fortunate ones who have escaped the fury of nature must contribute their mite so that the calamity struck brethen must feel that there are others who care for them.

Lastly I just want to stress on the point that It’s not the Government agencies alone, but every citizen must act to help others in distress.

Thanks a lot for taking your time and reading this article. Please ‘Sign in’ at the Guestbook and place your views. Lets join hands to make a better world for us; as well as for our future generations.

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Writer

Website:   http://www.theideas.in/

DISASTER MANAGEMENT NEEDS AND GREEN TOWNS

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Across the world, there is a rapid increase in urban living and an ever greater understanding of the consequences of Global Climate Change. Indian Town is experiencing warmer weather, hotter summers and delayed winters. Even, we can expect much greater changes in the decades ahead.

The population is increasing day by day and with no specific control on the increasing population explosion, there is a fierce struggle for land and space. There is also an increase in the intake of food and water. So, all these factors lead to an increase in demand graph and supply chart seems to go down. This is a worrying fact for a town, which needs to survive this trouble times.

Hence, we need to find some sustainable approach to keep a balance. The approach should be in areas concerning water, land, food and the air we breathe. All these are the basics of human survival. Let us take the example of water. It’s not the simple expansion of irrigation. It had an ecological and social dimension as well and was the key to rural transformation. Providing a limited but assured quantity of water to all urban households irrespective of their landholding is the key for water conservation. Now, to serve such dispersed need, the systems required had to be entirely different – technologically and socially. The population of the world tripled in the 20th century and now the use of renewable resources have grown six fold. Within the next fifty years the World population will increase by 40%-50%. Now this population growth coupled with industrialization and urbanization will result in an increasing demand of water and will have serious consequences in the environment. Already there is more waste water generated and dispersed today than at any other time in the history of our planet: more than one out of six people lack access to safe drinking water, namely 1.1 billion people, and more than two out of six lack adequate sanitation, namely 2.6 billion people

(Estimation for 2002, by the WHO/UNICEF JMP, 2004). One must know that these figures represent only people with very poor conditions. In reality, these figures should be much higher.

Less availability of water leads to water stress. Water stress results from an imbalance between water use and water resources. The water stress indicator in this map measures the proportion of water withdrawal with respect to total renewable resources. The depleting resource leads to many tensions over neighbors, communities, districts, states and countries. So, it is a real fact that there is a water crisis today. “But the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. It is a crisis of managing water so badly that billions of people – and the environment – suffer badly.” World Water Vision Report

With this current state of affairs, correcting measures still can be taken to avoid the crisis to be worsening. There is an increasing awareness that our freshwater resources are limited and need to be protected both in terms of quantity and quality. This water challenge affects not only the water community, but also decision-makers and every human being. “Water is everybody’s business” was one the key messages of the 2nd World Water Forum. Indian Towns are no different.

Another challenging factor, which haunts an Indian town, is Green Cover.

As per the report of National Institute of Environmental Studies, Bangalore has a Green Cover of 8.60 per cent, National Capital Region (New Delhi): 8.49 per cent, Greater Mumbai: 6.20 per cent, Chennai: 7.50 percent. The most astonishing fact is that Kolkata has a very less Green cover of 0.95 per cent. The numbers indicate percentage of green cover as a proportion of the total area for major Indian towns. Needless to say, the list — prepared by the Delhi-based National Institute of Environment Studies.

(NIES), who had made it clear that Calcutta has the lowest green count among all the towns.

It’s stated that as per the established norms the green cover should be atleast 15 percent for mega-towns for a population of one – million. Lack of open space and greenery increases air pollution and triggers respiratory and other problems, besides raising temperature, affecting biodiversity and causing psychosomatic disorders among citizens. According to the report it also states that the Green Cover of the town has continuously been depleting from 1.3 per cent in 1997-98 to 0.95 per cent in 1999-2000, due to indiscriminate felling of trees due to various reasons.

Hence, it is very clear that most Indian Towns faces many environmental challenges. The Project recognizes that a variety of methods will be needed to tackle climate change and its consequences and that living roofs and walls can play a significant role in tackling the situation. The greening of a roof can support rare and interesting types of plant, which in turn can host or provide suitable habitat for a variety of rare and interesting invertebrates.

These would serve many purposes:
a) Help to reduce global warming and green house gas effect
b) Help to reduce urban heat island effect (UHIE)
c) Help to reduce energy and carbon-dioxide emissions
d) Help to enhance bio-diversity, reduce flood, earthquake, cyclone and other disaster risks, provide insulation and improve the appearance of the town.

Creation of Green Bus Shelters will not only increase the green cover. The mission would be to increase the green look of the town as well as educate the public about the many environmental benefits of green roofs, as well as improve urban air quality and provide attractive waiting spaces for public transit users. The Green Bus Shelters will serve the following purposes:

a) Filtering air pollution and particulates from vehicle exhaust
b) Managing storm water by slowing the runoff rate
c) Adding an extra layer of insulation to roofs
d) Providing wildlife habitat opportunities in a dense urban area.

The next concept is Rain water harvesting and creation of Rain Homes. This will together create a Sustainable Rain Neighbourhoods. A sustainable neighbourhood is a mixed used area with a feeling of community. It is a place where people want to live and work, now and in the future. Sustainable neighbourhoods meet the diverse needs of existing and future residents, are sensitive to their environment, and contribute to a high quality of life. They are safe and inclusive, well planned, built and run, and offer equality of opportunity and good services to all. (Bristol Accord, 6-7 December 2005)

Sustainable Rain Neighbourhoods will make the communities have access to round the clock usage of water, irrespective of the number of people through effective capturing, storing and usage of Rain water.

Wastes and its disposal is another problem which haunts a metropolitan town. Human is behind every developmental sector. The large scale production and improper disposal of waste has become a source of pollution and further accumulation of garbage has resulted in serious deterioration of quality of life and the ecological balance. An initiative need to be taken on the need of systemic waste management.

An example of Kolkata states that approximately more than 2920 ton/d of solid waste are generated in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) area and the budget allocation for 2007–2008 was Rs. 1590 million (US$40 million). Major deficiencies were found in all elements of Solid Waste Management. Lack of suitable facilities (equipment and infrastructure) and underestimates of waste generation rates, inadequate management and technical skills, improper bin collection are responsible for poor collection and transportation of municipal solid wastes. The project tries to give focus in this grey area and encourages segregation of wastes in homes. Segregation of waste right is a solution to the problem and the project focuses on this initiative.

Waste can be segregated as
1. Biodegradable
Organic waste, e.g. kitchen waste, vegetables, fruits, flowers, leaves from the garden and paper
2. Non-biodegradable
Recyclable waste – plastic, paper, glass, metal etc
Toxic waste – old medicines, paints, chemicals, bulbs, spray cans, fertilizer and
pesticide containers, batteries, shoe polish.
Soiled – hospital waste such as cloth soiled with blood and other body fluids.

Toxic and soiled waste must be disposed of with utmost care.

For any project to be successful, there need to create lot of awareness campaigns. The purpose of the campaign would be to help everyone learn how to make the town a better place to live, in both small and big ways. The project will focus on creation of WORLD BANK Calendars, posters, hoardings along with the State/Local Government for conservation of energy and water, reducing noise levels and importance of increasing Green Cover in the town.

The project hence focuses on the following:
a) Water Conservation ways
b) Creation of Sustainable Rain Neighbourhoods by creation of ‘RAIN HOMES’ and Rain Water Harvesting Method
c) Reducing the impact of natural disaster risks
d) Creation of Green Bus Shelters
e) Creation of Green living roofs and walls
f) Segregation of Wastes Bins
g) Calendar, Poster, Hoarding on conservation of energy and water, reducing noise levels and importance of increasing Green Cover.
g) Tie- up with local FM channels.

CONCLUSION:

Across the world there is a rapid increase in urban living and an ever greater understanding of the consequences of global climate change. Indian Cites is experiencing warmer, wetter winters; hotter, drier summers and we can expect much greater changes in the decades ahead. As population increases, we are developing more sustainable approaches to development, using natural systems to shape and support growth. Excellent architecture and urban design is required if the Town has to adapt to the extremes of climate change. The concept would help to solve the existing environmental problem and make a Green Town with clean air – a role model for other mega towns that are contending with similar problems. The activities of the proposal will develop the technological concepts that make life in tomorrow’s mega towns easier, kinder and more pleasant to the environment.

For further details, please contact:

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist

Website:  http://www.theideas.in/

1900 STORM AND NEED FOR CYCLONE SHELTERS

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A daily newspaper reporter in 1900 said the story of September 8, 1900, hurricane could never be truly written. This story will ever remain memorable in the minds of the people then living along the coasts of the city. The story would definitely again remind us the horror of what can happen , when the winds blow and the tides rise along the coasts of a country. These stories and many more is giving rise to the concepts of Cyclone Shelters.The tale of death, devastation and eventual recovery is close to he hearts of Galvestonians. And as it’s stories are passed on again, the 1900 storm will become part of the history of another generation.

If people says that they had family who had died or survived the storm, there is no doubt that they are referring to a family history that goes back more than 100 years.

In the years before the great storm of Sep 8, 1900, Galveston had grown from a small settlement on the texas coast into one of the wealthiest cities in the country. There were natural deep water channel, which made Galveston the most important seaport in Terxas. Trains carried cargo to and from the port, and ships travelled across the seas. In fact almost more than 70 percent of the country’s cotton crop at that time passed through the port of Galveston, and some 1000 ships called on the port annually.

The shallow waters made it easy for bathers to wade safely several yards offshore and enjoy what was considered to be a therapeutic bathing in the Gulf. But the storm left behind a legacy that extends across the country. As families moved from the island, they carried with them the story of that night. The city was home to about 37,000 people.

It was September 8th, 1900, when the waters began to rise in the morning. Children played in flood waters, which began as early as dawn. when cline then chief meterologist of the US weather Service Station in Galveston, began his observations and he noticed Gulf water creeping over the low ends of the island. According to his memoirs, he knew at that moment of impending danger. He rode up and down the beach and urged the visitors of the coming danger. Some facts which were stunning are :

In 1900, higher ground was a relative term. The highest house in the city was at an elevation between 8 and 9 feet. Till today, we even do not know, if the coastal areas have houses at a minimum elevation. I think the answer is negative. If “Yes”, then i do not think that ‘Tsunami’, could have created such a havoc on the Java, sumatra and Indian Coasts.

But even Cline’s warning proved fruitless as the night approached. By the peak of the storm, no part of the island remained dry. It was estimated that the wind speed exceeded 120 miles per hour, according to Cline. But today with modern techniques it is found out that the wind must have been between 130 – 140 miles per hour to produce the extreme tide and storm surge of the 1900.

The 15 1/2 – foot storm surge rolled over the island from gulf to bay. Houses collapsed, and as the surge continued, a wall of debris described as at least two – stories high pushed across the island. The wall destroyed everything in it’s path, building force as it moves across the island. Pictures taken after the storm show empty streets. No people. No animals. No personal belongings. Only piles of debris that buried families beneath the remains of their homes. Bodies occasionally hang outside the debris piles. But for most part, an eerie emptiness paints a picture few words could describe.

The stench of decaying bodies and of fish and other animals rotting in the streets is unimaginable. For all practical purposes, the island was destroyed that night.

While no one wants to imagine a storm that could match the strength and lasting effects of that one, any future storm, no matter its devastation, will be compared to be the benchmark of Texas Storm – The Great Storm of September 8, 1900, in which six thousand died and thirty thousand  survived to tell the story and rebuild the city. 

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar, Specialist Disaster Management

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ARTICLE

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a ‘term’ quite frequently used these days and more and more corporate are coming forward to take this challenge. Let it be the Media sector, the Insurance Sector, the Retail sector, the Petrochemical Sector, the Chemical Sector, Food & Beverages, IT Industry, Healthcare Industry, Telecommunications Industry, Automotive, Construction Industry, Crafts, Energy, Banking and Insurances every corporate are trying to find ways of spending money for social responsibility.

As intensive researches are carried on in the best universities of the world, the first initiatives on CSR are generally taken by oil and chemical industries. There is a rise to prominence of CSR in particular companies, we also observe the emergence of something like the CSR ‘movement’ with a aim to find ways to serve humanity as well as finding business opportunities in the growing popularity of the subject.

The reasons are simple; the earth has seen so many natural disasters along with changes in environmental phenomenon due to rapid growth of industrialization. The money received from environment is now being thought to be utilized for the construction of the same. It’s like the saying which states that whatever energy we spent in our entire life for wealth at the cost of our health is later spend for our own wellbeing. These days even customers and clients look at their brands for something new done for society.

Pressures from Media, NGO’s, International Organizations, Government are making corporate to take up tasks which give fast results and are fast visible, which are dangerous because it do not serve any purpose for the community and neither for the organization.

While the world is still researching into CSR, there is a need to understand its long term goals, its long term indications, before any investment decisions are taken. If we take a closer look at the recent rise of CSR, some might well argue that this ‘new’ management idea is all about a recycled fashion; something which again sees ‘business in new way’. It’s actually more than that, it’s about ensuring more humane working conditions for its employees, building good healthcare systems, creating new educational opportunities for the have-nots, making development in areas where people fight for basic amenities and lots more. It’s absolutely not about standing in front of a hungry man providing him/her food with your industry’s photograph. That doesn’t help.

Some of the questions which arise are:

a) Are we investing something which will serve the community in long term?

b) Are we investing keeping in mind the long term objectives of the organizations?

c) Are we really doing something apart from writing reports on corporate social responsibility?

d) Are the amount allotted for CSR meeting the needs of the needy and targeted people?

e) Are the money used for the organizational goal increasing your brand value in real terms?

While all these questions looms around, we need to introspect on our policies and plans with new innovations. Marketing is a secondary thing and brand value increases when those thoughts are put into action and things starts moving on ground. There are industries who had served many in different fields and those industry leaders still flashes in our minds as souls who came into this world to bring a change. Their company values are not counted by their financial strength in billions but by their work which had touched a billion hearts. There are many positive events happening in the world on CSR as Industry associations are coming forward to coordinate and create synergies among individual business approaches to CSR.

Let’s be that messiah for change and lets that thought of change percolates through our minds and together move towards a safer world for our future generations.

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar

Assistant Director in Industry Association/Body

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

NATURAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND NEED FOR PLANNING PROCESS

Disaster Management is a combination of environmental, developmental and social issues coupled with administrative directives, operational skills of an organization and its capacities to implement those to lessen the adverse effects of an emergency. The other important constituent of risk management is precise information flow which in itself is a form of disaster response in its own right.

May it be a Mexican Earthquake or an 8.7 earth shattering phenomenon at the city of Banda Aceh or the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island or Chile or Haiti Earthquake, which leads to eradication of hundreds of lives.
Seismic activities occur everywhere and coupled with floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought & landslides, they compose a complete chronicle of human destruction. The challenges seem to be more and but it also provides saving options. The risks faced due to any environmental disaster are not only due to losses in lives, environment, health status, livelihoods and assets but also for the services that could occur in a particular community or a society over some specified future time period.
Environmental Calamity Management is a highly complex problem and has diverse manifestations. It is a phenomenon which affects people in different ways and is the result of social, cultural, economic and political factors. It is to be noted that all crises do not give rise to emergencies and the radical changes do not mean that it is always in negative.
The vision of the policy makers should be to assist the vulnerable and poor people to bring about positive change and to support their capacity to withstand adverse changes that may affect their social and economic developments. The changes should be made after proper judgment as any changes for the vulnerable people or the communities may give rise to a crisis that may overpower their capacity to cope and hence is an uncalled emergency. Crisis is not only about this unexpected catastrophe but also the sum-up of this slow build-up of political, social, economic and environmental factors. Along with all these issues, there is a combination of unexpected incident such as cyclone, flood, earthquake, drought or any other type of major accidents, which would definitely add to these changes in a very negative way. Hence, it is critical that relief interventions addresses these issue which are the standing parameters for a crisis and which leads to Environmental Catastrophes.
It is this inequity and poverty, which make people more vulnerable to the effects of Natural and Industrial Hazards. It is a well known fact that Natural Resources are divided into two categories, renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. Human Beings would never lack vital materials if he/she would adjust his population size and resource demands at or below the level that allows the biogeochemical cycles to operate in such a way that materials as well as organizations are “reassembled” as fast they are “dispersed”. The shift from “special interest conservation” to “total ecosystem conservation” helps to establish the fact that human beings are a part of a complex environment which must be studied, treated and modified as a whole and not on the basis of isolated “projects”. Hence there is a need to take cautions while tampering with the Environment with lakes to draining, fillings, dredging, pollutions, stabilizations, mosquito control, algae control and the planting of any fish, which are able to swim. It is we humans, who constrict them with levees and dams and then flush them with dredging, channelizations and floods and silt of bad farming.
The other most important factor is proper flow of information. Responding to the Indian Ocean Tsunami Aid Agencies distributed remarkable amounts of relief aid. But despite this, some needy groups were missed. In some cases, aid went to men and the specific needs of women were not met. In others, aid went to dominant social groups, sidelining tribal people and outcastes. Information about them was lacking.
The obvious questions are: Does the people in a disaster stricken area get enough information? Do they receive the caution before a natural disaster? Do the people of a country have the power to involve themselves in management of environmental disasters?
In a disaster area, there are different types of information: It includes everything from facts to deep understanding & may include lies and deception. It should be kept in mind that gathering data is a one-way process. If one has to acquire knowledge and wisdom, we need to involve and exchange ideas and analyze those in the light of experience, through discussion and interviews or multiple channels of communication.
If the disaster victim can recognize an aid agency’s capacity and viewpoints, they can give better advice as how to help them. It is the dialogue than the data that matters.
If we analyze the intensity of a cyclone & its destruction, the deaths and damages caused, it would indicate very diverse co-relationship between the economic leader of the countries and the actual loss of the communities. One of the deadliest cyclones- the cyclone Bhola of 1970 in East Pakistan was classified as Category III (maximum wind speed 205 km) and it killed three hundred thousand people while the economic loss was estimated at US$ 86.4 million.
If we go back to 2004’s hurricane season at Cuba, the country proved again how effective it is in protecting human life from the worst disaster. It was Hurricane Charley which swept into Cuba on 13th August 2004 where 70,000 houses were severely destroyed and four people died. When hurricane Ivan came to the coastline of Cuba, with greater force, over 2 million people were evacuated but none of them lost their lives.
So, how does Cuba do wonders and save lives from the clutches of such horrible hurricanes?
They overpower natural catastrophes as they take Disaster Management in a broader sense addressing issues and policies related to environmental sustainability, social sustainability, information flow and channelization of those in masses and also focus on needs for good quality education in environmental disaster management.
In Cuba, evacuation orders are mandatory – an important distinction from other neighboring countries. Public transport is provided to get people to shelters. Local branches of Federation of Cuban Women help and persuade reluctant people to accept evacuation, so it is rare that the police or army has to step in.
There is a need to ensure that disaster mitigation efforts are not just top to down and is rather based on direct information from the communities.
Risk Mapping is about consideration of direct link from the environmental factors, logical responses and changing pattern of tensions and relationships. Social division and inequality effect risks and its management. Hence there is a need to develop a methodology for analyzing conflict, which should be based on drawing up ‘maps’ of causes and can be superimposed on a similar map of responses.
The next factor is Environmental Sustainability. When the human population of an area is small, poor land use may affect only the people who are guilty of bad judgment. As the population increases, everyone suffers if land is improperly used because everyone eventually pays for rehabilitation or is now too often the case; everyone suffers a permanent loss of resources. A small example is if grasslands in low regions are plowed up and planted to wheat (poor land use), a “dust bowl” or temporary desert will sooner or later be a result. If the grass cover is maintained and moderately grazed (good land use), no dust bowl will likely to be developed. It is a general observance that good land use planning has come only after human has first destroyed or damaged a landscape. It is just as the saying goes that Human does not seem to understand a system which he did not build and therefore he seemingly must partially destroy and rebuild before use limitations are understood.
One solution to these problems are:
i) Cluster development: A cluster development of residential housing around village or town centers with each unit separated by broad green belts.
ii) By retaining stream valleys, steep slopes, lakes, marshes, aquifer recharge areas, waste disposal areas free from houses, buildings, and other high density uses. Without such planning, there might be no open space, and which would lead to the same kind of urban blight, chronic pollution and social disorder that we now observe in older, unplanned cities.
Generally, the short term profits that can be made by exploiting urban land are so huge that it is difficult for people to foresee the socio-ecologic backlashes and overshoots that accompany uncontrolled growth.
With the increase in population, food supplies will reduce resulting in increasing prices.
In other words, the size and quality of the “environmental house” should be an important consideration and not the number of resources; we can relentlessly squeeze from the earth. A reasonable goal could be to stress on the fact that a third of all land could be under open space use. The dependence of a city on the countryside for all its vital resources (food, water, air and so on) and the dependence of the country on the city for economic resources become so widely recognized that the present political confrontation that exists between the rural and urban populations is obliterated.
The next obvious aspects are creation of Sustainable Livelihoods. The real basis for assessing the appropriateness of any type of intervention is an understanding of livelihood systems and the strategies in which people are already engaged, the problems which they face and the ways in which they are adapting to changing environmental and economic conditions. The notion of “livelihood” systems” takes into account the wide range of people’s roles, activities, personal capacities and resources, which make up the way they make a living; and how these elements are related to each other.
It is here comes the concept of serving the poor profitability. These are the people who have great needs, but they can’t express their requirements in a way which may matter to markets. Markets seem to avoid the needs as it doesn’t bring profit and hence poor always tend to remain poorer. It is where Government and corporate houses comes into play and try to make a difference. But today Corporate Social Responsibility seemed to break that ‘tax free’ attitude and has come for the betterment of the World as more World Business Leaders tries to come forward with their aim to improve the smaller parts of the globe where their presence is felt.
Hence the ways forward are:
a) Recognize that Environmental Sustainability is a must for containing a Disaster
b) Recognize that Social Sustainability along with development is necessary for good Risk Reduction
c) Recognize information as a form of disaster response in its own right
d) Support better access to information and communications along with technology for vulnerable communities
e) Build a partnership for sharing information with communities, local governments, media, telephone companies and Industries.
f) Women and men of all ages from disaster affected areas and wider local populations, including vulnerable groups should receive information about the assistance programme and are given the opportunity to comment to the assistance agency during all stages.
Its then we could save many number of human lives with minimum causalities.

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/

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/

DISASTER MANAGEMENT

wish91

September 11 attacks or the spread of Anthrax or the rising fear of a Nuclear Disaster, the emergence of the term Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Disaster (CBRN) is becoming a challenging issue infront of Governments of the World. Central to such preparation and response planning are the roles of districts, states, local -self Governments, National Government Departments, which includes activities ranging from global intelligence gathering to local emergency response. Beginning in the mid-1990s and accelerating rapidly since September 2001, all levels of Government have focused on improving their capabilities to foresee, intercept, prepare for and respond to these CBRN disasters.

Many Government Agencies, non-governmental organizations and individuals charged with emergency preparedness, response and management are being encouraged all over the World to intricate emergency Plans into training, education and public awareness campaigns. These days, Governments and Industries are enabling themselves to co-operate and find solutions to this blazing problem.

CBRN is an initiation for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear disaster. The term is used worldwide to refer to incidents or weapons in which any of these four hazards have presented them. In the fifties the expression ABC (Atomic, Biological and Chemical) was in use and was modified during the cold war to NBC (Nuclear, biological and chemical). Later the term R (radiological) was introduced as a consequence of the “new” threat radiological weapon (also known as the “poor man’s atomic bomb). CBRN agents are commonly referred as weapons of mass destruction. A wide range of these agents are available, but there are problems related to their manufacture, storage and disposal.

A CBR device functions by wind dispersal. During that instance the evacuation of people and control of ventilation turn out to be a main concern. The methods that are followed are prevention, detection, preparedness and response. Justifiably in order to protect the populace from any eventualities of CBRN attacks, there is a requirement of co-ordination between various Government agencies, Industries, Non-governmental organizations and departments like transport, home, environment, health etc, which would work in close cooperation as an assistance provider to the civilian authorities. There are two main issues, which in the intervening time have increased the risk of CBRN viz. trafficking and dual-use nature of CBRN materials. Hence there is a need for a number of national and multilateral legal instruments to come forward to stop the access of CBRN materials as pillars of prevention and agree to a uniform policy package on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) security. The world needs to have all necessary tools at hand to counteract this menace and spread awareness about the grave nature of CBRN threat. There is a requirement for discussion on these issues with proper documents prepared and adopted by various institutions as well as the National Government to present the Indian endeavor to address risks of CBRN disaster.

Chemical, Biological and Nuclear emergencies having potential of becoming a disaster may occur due to accidental spill, terrorism activities as well as use of chemical and nuclear warfare agents. It is difficult to predict when such activities will occur or whether the target will be military or a civilian unit. It has been observed in past that it occurred when it was least expected. In some countries the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has been identified as the nodal agency in the country in respect of human made radiological emergencies in the public domain. For example, a Crisis Management Group (CMG) has been functioning since 1987 in DAE, India. In the event of any radiological or nuclear emergency in the public domain, the CMG is immediately activated and will co-ordinate between the local authority in the affected area and the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC). The CMG comprises of senior officials drawn from various units of DAE like the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Heavy Water Board (HWB) and the Directorate of Purchase and Stores (DP&S). It also includes senior officials from the regulatory authority and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

In general chemical and biological agents are considered to be cheaper and easier to produce. Radioactive materials that could be used for such contamination are available from a wide range of relatively non-secure facilities, including hospitals, medical and research laboratories, universities, waste dumps and so forth. The use of biological weapons become more eminent as apart from the natural transnational movement of these pathogenic organisms, their potential use as biological warfare and bio-terrorism has become far more important now than ever before. Small Pox and Anthrax are the most common agents and has the ability to cause widespread calamity. These types of incidents trigger human panic. These biological agents mainly bacteria, virus, toxins, fungi are living organisms and their toxic products can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and plants. These agents can be dispersed by spraying them into air, infecting animals that carry disease to humans and by contaminating food and water. Potentially hundreds of human pathogens could be used as weapons; however public health authorities have identified only a few as having the potential to cause causalities leading to civil disruptions.

The United Nations had closely been associated with CBRN disasters through its different programmes and specialized agencies. It was acknowledged later that there was a need to tackle the consequences of nuclear and biological related disasters, which has spurred the development of wide ranging international co-operation in science, humanitarian assistance and technology. National Disaster Management Authority, Government of India have proactively taken steps in the direction of institutionalization of the framework for “all hazard” emergency response in disasters culminated into the formulation of the National Guidelines on Medical Preparedness and Mass Causality Management, Nuclear and Radiological Disaster Management, Chemical Disaster Management etc. World Health Organization has been associated with Medical, Biological and Radiological Disasters for long. It was in the year 1989 WHO first raised concerns that local medical scientists had incorrectly attributed various biological and health effects to radiation exposure during the Chernobyl incident. Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) has been spreading awareness about Nuclear Disasters for long and one example is at Jitapur, Maharashtra, India where this public sector enterprise is actively working to set up a nuclear plant keeping all concerns into account & carefully finding the mitigation strategies. In Fiscal year 2009, USAID and Office of U.S Foreign Disaster Assistance responded to 63 disasters in 49 countries to assist nearly 55 million disaster-affected people. In Africa, OFDA disaster responses included assistance to populations affected by complex emergencies, food insecurity, ammunitions explosion, cholera and measles outbreaks.

There are new CBRN detection tools which will help us to use our ability to employ adequate detection methods, use modern and effective decontamination technologies and equipment, deal efficiently with decontamination wastes and do all of these in a safe manner. It’s a challenge for the Research Teams to come up with more innovative solutions to better equip and protect the community from these types of disaster.

Hence solutions need to be found for response strategies at the personal levels to these types of attacks or accidents. Though it needs some effort but a small step to aware and to empower ourselves with knowledge about disasters and its management could give us more days to live life and make a safer world for us as well as for the future generations.

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND GREEN CITIES

Greener City

Green City

I thought of writing this small write-up since it has been going in my mind for last two years. I’m trying to express that thought through the following document.

Across the world, there is a rapid increase in urban living and an ever greater understanding of the consequences of Global Climate Change. Cities are experiencing warmer weather, hotter summers and delayed winters. Even, we can expect much greater changes in the decades ahead.

The population is increasing day by day and with no specific control on the increasing population explosion, there is a fierce struggle for land and space. There is also an increase in the intake of food and water. So, all these factors lead to an increase in demand graph and supply chart seems to go down. This is a worrying fact for a city, which needs to survive this trouble times. 

Hence, we need to find some sustainable approach to keep a balance. The approach should be in areas concerning water, land, food and the air we breathe. All these are the basics of human survival. Let us take the example of water. It’s not the simple expansion of irrigation. It had an ecological and social dimension as well and was the key to rural transformation. Providing a limited but assured quantity of water to all urban households irrespective of their landholding is the key for water conservation. Now, to serve such dispersed need, the systems required had to be entirely different – technologically and socially. The population of the world tripled in the 20th century and now the use of renewable resources have grown six fold. Within the next fifty years the World population will increase by 40%-50%. Now this population growth coupled with industrialization and urbanization will result in an increasing demand of water and will have serious consequences in the environment. Already there is more waste water generated and dispersed today than at any other time in the history of our planet: more than one out of six people lack access to safe drinking water, namely 1.1 billion people, and more than two out of six lack adequate sanitation, namely 2.6 billion people.

(Estimation for 2002, by the WHO/UNICEF JMP, 2004) One must know that these figures represent only people with very poor conditions. In reality, these figures should be much higher.

Less availability of water leads to water stress. Water stress results from an imbalance between water use and water resources. The water stress indicator in this map measures the proportion of water withdrawal with respect to total renewable resources. The depleting resource leads to many tensions over neighbors, communities, districts, states and countries. So, it is a real fact that there is a water crisis today. But the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. It is a crisis of managing water so badly that billions of people – and the environment – suffer badly.”  World Water Vision Report

With this current state of affairs, correcting measures still can be taken to avoid the crisis to be worsening. There is an increasing awareness that our freshwater resources are limited and need to be protected both in terms of quantity and quality. This water challenge affects not only the water community, but also decision-makers and every human being. “Water is everybody’s business” was one the key messages of the 2nd World Water Forum. Indian Cities are no different.

Another challenging factor, which haunts an Indian city, is Green Cover.

As per the report of National Institute of Environmental Studies, Bangalore has a Green Cover of 8.60 per cent, National Capital Region (New Delhi): 8.49 per cent, Greater Mumbai: 6.20 per cent, Chennai: 7.50 percent. The most astonishing fact is that Kolkata has a very less Green cover of 0.95 per cent. The numbers indicate percentage of green cover as a proportion of the total area for major Indian cities. Needless to say, the list — prepared by the Delhi-based National Institute of Environment Studies (NIES), who had made it clear that Calcutta has the lowest green count among all the cities.

It’s stated that as per the established norms the green cover should be at least 15 percent for mega-cities for a population of one – million. Lack of open space and greenery increases air pollution and triggers respiratory and other problems, besides raising temperature, affecting biodiversity and causing psychosomatic disorders among citizens. According to the report it also states that the Green Cover of the city has continuously been depleting from 1.3 per cent in 1997-98 to 0.95 per cent in 1999-2000, due to indiscriminate felling of trees due to various reasons.

Hence, it is very clear that most Indian Cities faces many environmental challenges. Hence a variety of methods will be needed to tackle climate change and its consequences and that living roofs and walls can play a significant role in tackling the situation. The greening of a roof can support rare and interesting types of plant, which in turn can host or provide suitable habitat for a variety of rare and interesting invertebrates.

These would serve many purposes:

a)    Help to reduce global warming and green house gas effect

b)    Help to reduce urban heat island effect (UHIE)

c)    Help to reduce energy and carbon-dioxide emissions

d)    Help to enhance bio-diversity, reduce flood risk, provide insulation and improve the appearance of the city.

Creation of Green Bus Shelters will not only increase the green cover. The mission would be to increase the green look of the city as well as educate the public about the many environmental benefits of green roofs, as well as improve urban air quality and provide attractive waiting spaces for public transit users.  The Green Bus Shelters will serve the following purposes:

a)    Filtering air pollution and particulates from vehicle exhaust

b)    Managing storm water by slowing the runoff rate

c)    Adding an extra layer of insulation to roofs

d)    Providing wildlife habitat opportunities in a dense urban area.

The next concept is Rain water harvesting and creation of Rain Homes. This will together create a Sustainable Rain Neighbourhoods. A sustainable neighbourhood is a mixed used area with a feeling of community. It is a place where people want to live and work, now and in the future. Sustainable neighbourhoods meet the diverse needs of existing and future residents, are sensitive to their environment, and contribute to a high quality of life. They are safe and inclusive, well planned, built and run, and offer equality of opportunity and good services to all. (Bristol Accord, 6-7 December 2005)

Sustainable Rain Neighbourhoods will make the communities have access to round the clock usage of water, irrespective of the number of people through effective capturing, storing and usage of Rain water.

Wastes and its disposal is another problem which haunts a metropolitan city. Human is behind every developmental sector. The large-scale production and improper disposal of waste has become a source of pollution and further accumulation of garbage has resulted in serious deterioration of quality of life and the ecological balance.  An initiative need to be taken on the need of systemic waste management. We need to have good projects all around the globe to address these issues and plan its mitigation policies. It’s then we can move towards a Safer World for us as well as for the future generations.

For any project to be successful, there is a need to create lot of awareness campaigns. The purpose of the campaign would be to help everyone learn how to make the city a better place to live, in both small and big ways.

Hope through these write-up, International Agencies, Government and Non-Government organizations take up these projects so that we can see a Greener and a Safer World.

Thanks a lot for reading. Please put a comment if your time permits.

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar

Assistant Director (Disaster Management) in India’s Industry and Business organization at New Delhi

Specialist in Disaster Management and Environmental Sciences

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

VOLCANOES AND ITS DEVASTATION – ARE WE CLOSER TO 2012

Volcanoes, earthquakes & tsunami pose the most frightening hazards, which is able to eradicate the lives of thousand within seconds.  In this regard let me put across a few words from Antigone, by the Attic tragedian Sophocles (4967-406 B.C.), in the translation of Sir Richard Jebb, C.U.P., 1900 (Jakobsen, p. 57); Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man…. only against Death shall he call for aid in vain; but from baffling maladies he hath devised escape.

This year (2010) there were so many earthquakes that it is hardly a day, when we do not hear about it.  The occurrence as narrated and visualized in television tells a tale of destruction which still remains visible in the eyes of the beholder. The word ‘tsunami’ may be a much more recent acquisition to our vocabulary, attained as a result of 26 December 2004, when a submarine earthquake near Sumatra displaced the sea water into devastating series of waves – a tsunami – that claimed nearly 300,000 lives around the shores of the Indian Ocean.

These Volcanoes undeniably produce impressive landscapes and those of us who are fortunate enough to have witnessed such an erupting volcano will carry to our graves indelible memories of an erupting volcano, the spectacle, the noise, the smell and the drama. But beauty has its worst side too.  To save one from these types of disasters purely lies on ones position. If you are in a wrong place at the wrong time, you may not be able to save yourself. For other people, whose lives, health, homes and livelihoods are being destroyed or put at risk by an eruption – any sense of scientific curiosity is understandably displaced by more pressing personal concerns.

Generally it is often seen that eruptions are always associated with small earthquakes and that in some circumstances the eruption of a volcano is the cause of a small scale tsunami. Everything in this world is related. One cannot mitigate one parameter, without understanding the other’s ecological links. Mitigation can only be done, when we understand the ecology and its biodiversity outlooks and hence require specialists from various fields to come together and act. Natural Catastrophe Management may be the domain of trained civil defense people, but if one needs to mitigate the disasters and save billions of dollars of development from annihilation, one need to have effective understanding of Environment and our immediate surroundings – the things we do and things we should not do. It’s just not deforestation, it’s not about the construction of high rises buildings, it’s not about the exploitation of Mother Nature in the name of development but it’s about understanding the role of all these factors in context to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA, 5-10 years of human existence). That’s the importance of these EIA.

It was the eruption of Krakatau (popularly referred to as Krakatao) which caused the tsunami in 1883. In addition to generating an ocean-crossing tsunami, a volcanic eruption can teach up and pluck aircraft from the sky. Let’s glance into the reasons as why does a volcano happen.

Molten rock at a depth is known to geologists as magma. Depending on its composition, magma solidifies when its temperature drops below about 1200 – 800 degree centigrade. This type of solidified rocks formed by solidified magma is described as an igneous rock. The term ‘igneous’ is derived from the Latin word ‘ignis’meaning fire. Thus an igneous rock made by solidification inside the earth’s surface is described as intrusive and is said to form an ‘igneous intrusion’. If the magma reaches the surface the resulting rock is called as volcanic.

When the molten rock reaches the surface it is generally called lava rather than the magma and if it flows in a stream across the surface, then this is described as a lava flow. Just to mention here that rocks of all types contain various minerals. When these rocks are in a molten state it is called Magma. These magmas may also have small crystals and bubbles of gas inside them. Magma will tend to rise upwards only if it is less dense than the solid rock that surrounds it. A close study reveals that the movement of the magma is restricted by its viscosity, which is a measure of how freely it is able to flow. One can compare and understand the amount of viscosity by taking the example of basalt (Common variety of magma, in fluid state) is about 100,000 times more viscous than water! This gives it the consistency of very thick porridge, so that it would not be able to escape up a narrow borehole.

The earth is composed of Core (Inner and Outer), Mantle (Lower and Upper) and the crust. The Inner core of the Earth is between 6370 Km to 5155 Km. The Outer Core is between 5155 Km to 2900 Km, the Lower Mantle is between 2900 Km to 670 Km, the Upper Mantle is between 670 Km to 90 Km/25 Km. The Crust is between 6-11 Km. Although the outer core’s chemical composition is uncertain, we can be sure that it is a liquid rather than a solid because of its effect on seismic waves. These are vibrations of various sorts emanating from earthquakes or underground explosions, which travel through the rock at speeds of several kilometers per second. The biggest earthquakes and the underground nuclear detonations generate seismic waves strong enough to pass right through the globe. When seismic waves encounter the outer core, those waves consisting of shearing vibrations (as inside a wobbling jelly), which is called the S waves, cannot travel through it and are either reflected or absorbed. This demonstrates that the outer core offers no resistance to shearing motions, and so must be liquid. Conversely, seismic waves that consist of alternating pulses of compression and dilation (like sound waves in air or water) called P Waves, can travel through it. There are other sorts of seismic waves that can travel only near the Earth’s surface.

Although the molten iron stew of the outer core has a surprisingly low viscosity (little more than that of water), it is much too dense to find its way up to the surface at volcanoes. However, it does make its presence felt at the surface through Earth’s magnetic field. This is a product of electrical currents in the outer core, which are generated because the molten material is in rapid circulation and is a good conductor of electricity. The core is surrounded by the mantle and overlying this mantle is the crust, which is relatively thin skin at the Earth’s Surface, accounting for less than 0.5 per cent of the Earth’s mass. The crust is richer in silicon and certain other elements than the mantle, so the varieties of silicate materials that are most common in the crust differ from those that characterize the mantle. However, the compositional difference between mantle and crust is trivial compared to the difference between mantle and core. There are two types of crust: one is the Oceanic Crust which is about 6-11 Km thick and mostly composed of basalt and constitutes the floor of deep oceans. Continental crust makes up the continents and floors of the shallow seas that are adjacent to most major land masses. It can be as thin as 25 Km where it has been thinned and stretched and as much as 90 Km thick below the highest mountain ranges where it has been buckled and compressed.

The elements which are mostly found in the earth’s crust are Silicon, Titanium, Aluminum, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium, Potassium etc. Volcanoes generally occur where magma that has been generated at isolated patches in the mantle collects into sufficient volumes to be able to rise into the crust and make its way to the surface. The theory of plate tectonics describes the way in which the plates slide around and explains why most volcanoes occur where they do and the nature of the ground displacement during earthquakes. The Earth crust is firmly joined to the part of the mantle immediately beneath it. In most places, the top 100 Km or so of the mantle is just as strong and rigid as the crust, so that the crust and thus this uppermost mantle constitute a single mechanical layer. This layer is known as the lithosphere, a term chosen because it includes ‘lithos’, the Greek word for rock.

The lithosphere is rocky (in the familiar sense) in terms of both its composition and is strong and rigid nature. It ranges between 20 and 50 Km thick in the oceans and is typically about 150 Km thick under the continents. Each tectonic plate is a slab of lithosphere that can move around because the part of the mantle immediately beneath it is much weaker. This layer of the mantle is called the Asthenosphere(constructed from the Greek word for weak). The part, which is weak of the mantle, lies in few tens of Kilometers immediately below the base of the lithosphere, where there is evidence that a few percent of molten material may permeate along the interfaces between crystals. However, the proportion of this melt is so small that it is no more valid to think of this zone as molten or rather it is better to describe it as water-sodden brick as a liquid. However below the lithosphere there is an important change in the properties of the Earth’s rock that persists all the way to the core – although deep mantle is solid but it is not at rest. It is circulating at a speed of a few centimeters a year. However, that does not mean it is a liquid, certainly not so far as the transmission of seismic waves is concerned. The deep mantle’s slow flow is usually described as ‘solid-state convention’.

It’s this convention of current, what makes warm air to rise and cold air sink or water circulate in a saucepan (even before it boils). It is a way of transporting heat outwards. In the Earth’s solid mantle, convective forces cause it to circulate and thereby transfer the Earth’s internal heat outwards much more effectively than could be achieved simply by conduction through a motionless mantle. In fact, it is the efficiency of solid-state convention in the mantle that actually prevents the temperature getting quite hot enough to cause widespread melting. Put simply, hot mantle rises upwards & transfers its heat to the base of the lithosphere. Mantle that has lost heat in this way becomes slightly denser and sinks downwards again. Most of the heat deposited at the base of the lithosphere trickles through to the surface by conduction, but some is carried higher by pods of magma that can intrude high into the crust or even reach the surface at volcanoes. Often it is seen that most volcanoes occur independently of convection in the mantle and are a result of movements of the tectonic plates and these movements are possible only because only because the top of the Aesthenosphere is weak enough to allow them to happen. Volcanoes tend to be concentrated in well defined belts. These volcanoes during eruption also disturb the plate boundaries and are the cause of earthquakes and tsunami. A sudden change can be drastic and can eliminate thousands of human life.

According to computer models, somewhere near Toba, along the fault line there may be another super volcano getting ready for eruption. 3.1 mile sinking of Indo-Australian plate under the Euresian Plate in the last 74,000 years has created enough magma for a super volcano.

In the words of poet Stefanie Zammit,

‘Where distant screams haunt the nights,

And streets are filled with empty homes.

Where starving dogs are left to fight

Over lost men’s meat and children’s bones…

…When the smoke of burning men fills the air:

A smoke that no wind can fend.

When you take a breath and you declare:

This is when it really ends.’

Though these is just an assumption till now, but who knows when these volcanoes in well defined belts starts erupting and cause huge earthquakes all around the world to tell the final tale of human beings last annihilation story 2012.

(Please Note: Incase, there is any mistake in the above data, kindly feel free to mail me at the e-mail address given below)

Thanks and Regards,

MAINAK MAJUMDAR

Disaster Management Specialist and Writer

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND RISKS

Risk Assessment is about identifying the potential hazards and risks associated with any substance, process or activity and determining ways to manage those hazards before the adverse effects become evident.

Risk Management takes a more multifaceted form if a system becomes more complex. This is what happened in Bhopal. It was in 2-3rd December, 1984; the World’s worst industrial disaster killed at least 20,000 people and left thousands maimed and helpless. The medical follow up done by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), based on diverse multi-institutional projects over a 10 year period between January 1984 and May 1994, on the communities that were exposed to the leak provides a reasonably comprehensive viewpoint on both short and long-term health effects. Epidemiological studies formed the core of the study that included 25 research projects, including two multi-disciplinary ones on pathology and toxicology to determine the effects of inhaling noxious gases. The investigations also included clinical and toxicological studies. The entire work was coordinated by the Bhopal Gas Disaster Research Centre (BGDRC).

An International Journal stated earlier that the findings of the study were not made public till 2004. It was of belief that about 42 tones of Methyl Isocyanate (and other gaseous products of the runaway reaction) were leaked from the storage tank in 1984. Approximately about three-fourths of the storage tank population at that time was exposed to the leak. Large part of the populations were affected to different degrees and when experts debated on the ways to find solution, people died like flies. A total number of approximately 80,000 people were studied at severely, moderately and mildly exposed areas and compared with controls from unexposed areas. Later it was found – of the total population, 3.9 percent was affected severely, 8.6 percent moderately and 50.1 percent mildly, while 37.4 percent was not affected. Most people included in the study had no fixed occupation or fixed source of income. Nearly 70 percent of the people, lived in Kuccha houses, in the severely affected as well as control areas (areas where the gas had not spread), and prevalence of the smoking habit ranged from 0.2 to 14.3 per cent.

If one goes through the ICMR report then one could come to a conclusion that the three-fourth of the deaths occurred within the first 72 hours of the leak, which happened around mid night of December 2-3, 1984. It was the post-exposure phases that is now considered as depending on the varying clinical features, the different post-exposure phases have been classified in the study as acute (first month of exposure), sub-acute (one to three months) and chronic (more than three months). The ocular symptoms during the acute period were related to the effects of the gas(es) on the eyes and the respiratory tract. In the acute phase, in addition to respiratory complaints, including chest pain and breathlessness, there were complaints of muscle weakness, febrile illness and vomiting. After examination of blood, it was found that in this phase there were increased white blood cells and higher than normal hemoglobin levels. Situations of these types of can be termed as EXTREME EVENTS, which is beyond the natural capacity of the individuals to cope.

If we look through the doors of history then one can find that risk and crisis management is lettered with narratives about the ways in which the organizations failed to deal with the demands of ‘extreme events’. Extreme events by definition are a class of outcome that have very high consequences (often exceeding the perceived worst class scenario) but also a low probability of occurrence. These factors make them difficult areas for analysis and investigations. These may lead some individuals to come to a conclusion by dismissing their significance by stating that they are not representative of the ‘normal’ state of affairs within the ‘system’ under consideration. Extreme events call into question our understanding of the various classes of phenomenon in which they are found and the strategies that organizations have in place to deal with them.

Thus they confront the secretarial claims and their control systems and can often call into question many of the fundamental assumptions that are held about the nature of hazard. These types of extreme events are also found in Natural Disasters or catastrophes or go-physical phenomenon, extreme weather conditions and also for long term phenomenons like global warming.

For example, a region receives a clear warning about heavy downfall and the same place receives enough rainfall in a 24 hour period (which is equivalent to months of precipitation in the given region) then the scale of the event will definitely surprise many people and will cause situations which may be difficult for the local population to cope. Again, a clear look states that it is often the scale of the events that present challenges around prediction. These leads to elementary complexity in the provision of mitigating advice to those, who are exposed to these type of risks. However there are attempts to provide early warning systems to warn the people against the upcoming disasters.

‘Extreme Events’ are typified by being both high consequence and low probability events. They are events that have the potential to overpower our resistance and yet they occur so uncommonly that we are powerless to develop enough experience from them and expand effective management control strategies that are grounded in the normal trial and error learning process that characterize organizations.

Extreme eventsare however also characterized by the various attempts to ‘manage’ them so that one can prevent the process of its escalation that has the power to move a system within its boundaries of its normal perturbation towards an extreme position, where it can no longer be controlled and has the potential to cause considerable levels of damage. Here we need to understand the consequences of an extreme event rather than seeking to search for developed technologies of prognosticating their occurrence.

If we understand the possible harm that such ‘extreme events’ can cause, it would lead the outcome administrators to reflect on the process by which incidents can shoot up to generate considerable damage and how inadequate our understanding base is, which often depend around these processes.

Some organizations consider the nature of their past histories as evidence that they are ‘crisis prepared’ or ‘resilient’. The lack of sufficient information and evidence about the exact understanding of the possible harm of a particular catastrophic hazard is often seen as a ‘justification’ that the organization is prepared for such crisis. But what if these crisis takes the shape of an extreme event. The coping capacity of such organizations is largely a function of the assumptions that exist around controls, which work under a range of conditions and to an extent that they are able to cope with the task demands that they are generated by emergence.

If we look into the details then one arrives at a conclusion that there are few handful of managers who have an ‘Hand on’ experience of ‘crisis’ not necessarily an extreme event and that would allow them to manage these events with their own past histories he/she had undergone. Therefore the organizations need to engage in simulation exercises in order to ensure that managers have some experience of dealing with those processes around which the hazard might escalate. It would help if the mangers are also willing to consider the experience of other organizations, which are having similar experiences around such types of events. As crises are in essence, extreme events, our understanding of them will be a function of the observations that we can make ‘at a distance’ rather than by direct experimental learning.

However, what these extreme events do is to point to the manner in which managerial assumptions around control can generate the conditions in which catastrophic failures can occur. As such, they serve an important role in allowing us to develop strategies for coping with the consequences of extreme events or crisis by considering the range of impacts that such events can generate.

My assumption goes that these factors stated above may be lacking for what happened in Bhopal Gas Disaster in 1984. A deep look into these aspects and significant research with proper implementation of policies in these areas can help organizations, corporate and other agencies to tackle ‘extreme events’ more professionally and effectively.

Please Note: Incase, there is any mistake in the above data, kindly feel free to mail me at the e-mail address given below.

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

MANAGING CHEMICAL DISASTERS

Chemical Disasters are burning issue these days, especially after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy subject gained momentum.  A hazardous chemical not only destroy the environment but also is injurious to human beings. One example of a chemical disaster is ‘Bhopal Gas Tragedy’ December 2-3, 1984 at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. Other examples of chemical disasters are outbreak of ‘Itai-Itai’ disease, Japan, asbestos poisoning at the City of Leeds and York in United Kingdom, Methyl Mercury Poisoning Catastrophe in Iraq in the early 1970s. There are some forty thousand chemicals in commercial use; most are subject to accidental spills or releases. These types of accident vary from small to large and can occur anywhere. Chemicals are found, from oil drilling rigs to factories, tanker trucks to fifty-five-gallon drums and all the way to the local dry cleaner or your garden tool shed.
Taking all aspects in account many global initiatives have been taken for non-proliferation, counter-proliferation and consequence management of Chemical Disaster Management. These led to the establishment of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (1997) with its headquarters at Hague, which is also the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC or convention). The initiative of formation of Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was taken on 3rd September 1992.
The State signatories of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, adopted by the Conference on Disarmament at Geneva on 3 September 1992 decided to take all necessary measures to ensure the rapid and effective establishment of the future Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. To this end there was a need to establish a Preparatory Commission with the following objectives:
1. Approve the Text on the Establishment of a Preparatory Commission, as annexed to the present resolution;
2. Request the Secretary-General, in accordance with paragraph 5 of resolution A/RES/47/39, adopted by the General Assembly on 30 November 1992, on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, to provide the services required to initiate the work of the Preparatory Commission for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
In order to ensure the implementation of the provisions the following was to be included:
a) International verification of compliance
b) Provide a forum for consultation and Co-operation among state parties, including those in Chemical Convention
Till now OPCW member states already represent about 98% of the global population and landmass. A state becomes a State Party, and thereby a member of the Organization, by one of three means — ratification, accession or succession. Instruments of ratification, accession or succession must be deposited with the designated Depositary of the Convention, who is the Secretary-General of the United Nations. (OPCW).

As of now, there are 188 signatories to the chemical convention, six other countries have signed the proposal but have not ratified it.
Under Article 1 General Obligations, each state party to this convention undertakes provisions which are termed as NEVER under any circumstances:
1.

a) To develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to anyone;
b) To use chemical weapons;
c) To engage in any military preparations to use chemical weapons;
d) To assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.
Article: 2
Each State Party undertakes to destroy chemical weapons it owns or possesses, or that are located in any place under its jurisdiction or control, in accordance with the provisions of this Convention.
Article: 3
Each State Party undertakes to destroy all chemical weapons it abandoned on the territory of another State Party, in accordance with the provisions of this Convention.
Article: 4
Each State Party undertakes to destroy any chemical weapons production facilities it owns or possesses, or that are located in any place under its jurisdiction or control, in accordance with the provisions of this Convention.
Article: 5
Each State Party undertakes not to use riot control agents as a method of warfare.
In a statement made by the Secretary General of the OPCW, on 10 June 2010, In his remarks on “Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Personal View”, the Director-General noted that the international community has widely and appropriately recognized the proliferation of WMDs as a threat to international peace and security, as was affirmed by the UN Security Council for the first time in 1992 and reaffirmed in September 2009. He further noted that UNSCR 1540 and the UN General Assembly’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy underscored the urgency of the potential threat of access to WMD by non-state actors.
The Director-General said the experience of the OPCW in developing an all-encompassing regime to ban chemical weapons could offer lessons for other disarmament and non-proliferation as well. Regarding the non-proliferation dimension, he observed that inspections of commercial enterprises are specific to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and represent a unique example of collaboration between the public and private sectors in promoting security while not prejudicing legitimate business interests.
Some of the initiatives taken by the United Nations on Chemical Disasters are the resolution of 1540 (2004) of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and before to that United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001).
These later gave the way to Container Security Initiative and Initiatives by Europe and Eurasia as Operational Active Endeavour (OAE).

At the same time, Chemical Disaster was a point of discussion in the ASEAN meet. ASEAN is a geopolitical and economic organization of 10 countries located in Southeast Asia. The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is the principal forum for security dialogue in Asia. Before to ASEAN, there was another organization which existed in the South East Asia region with the name Association of South East Asia, which was commonly called as ASA, an alliance which comprised of Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. ASEAN was founded by five countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – met at the Thai Department of Foreign Affairs building in Bangkok and signed the ACEAN declaration, more commonly known as the Bangkok declaration. Later, when it’s member strength increased to 10, ASEAN moved with their new South Asian Nuclear – weapon free zone treaty.
It was then twenty first century, issues shifted and ASEAN started giving more stress on environmental perspectives. They tried to incorporate Environmental agreements into their discussion forums. These led to the signing of Agreement on Tran boundary Haze Pollution in 2002 as an attempt to control haze pollution in the Southeast Asia. Some other treaties signed are Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security, the ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network in 2005 and the Clean Development and Climate treaty.
It draws together 23 countries, which have a bearing on the security of the Asia-Pacific Region.

There is also another treaty of the Basal Convention on the control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. The basic objectives of the Basel Convention are the control and reduction of Transboundary movement of hazardous and other wastes, subject to the convention; prevention and minimization of their generation, environmentally sound management of such wastes and for active promotion of the transfer and use of cleaner technologies.
Several treaties are formed by countries now to ban the Weapons of Mass destruction and let’s now discuss on some different types of chemical agents, which may be the cause of a chemical disaster:
a) Chemical warfare agents
b) Dual use chemicals
c) Toxic Industrial Chemicals/Materials (TIC/TIM)
d) HAZCHEM and their waste by-products
e) Agricultural chemicals
f) Other poisonous substances
g) Natural Gas and Petroleum Products

The chemical warfare agents may exist in liquid, gas or solid form. They can be classified based on their chemical nature, like organo-phosphorous, organo-sulphur, organo-fluorine, arsenicals and others; persistency or dose dependent lethal and incapacitating properties. Above all, the most widely used classification is based on their physiological effects. These can be also segregated as nerve agents, blistering agents, blood agents, lung agents, psychic incapacitate, riot control agents and toxins. The chemical warfare agent’s efficiency can be determined by the following:
a) The efficiency of the delivery system, such as munitions and low-flying aircraft.
b) Modes of disposal or dissemination, like spray tanks
c) Vulnerability of the potential target
d) Meteorological conditions, like wind velocity and direction, humidity, temperature etc.
The Dual use chemicals are those, which can be used for military as well as for Industrial Purposes. These Industrial Chemicals may act as potential precursors of Chemical Warfare agents and are identified in Schedule 2 and 3 of the Chemicals Weapons Convention (CWC) list of chemicals. Among the most important ones are Phosgene, Cyanogen Chloride, hydrogen cyanide and chloropicrin. The interesting fact is that Phosgene is a chemical compound, which doesn’t contain phosphorous. It’s a chemical compound with the molecular formula COCl2. The Colorless gas gained the status of a chemical weapon during World War I. Now, this same chemical compound is valued as a industrial agent and building blocks in synthesis of pharmaceuticals and other organic compounds.
Phosgene is a planar molecule as predicted by VSEPR theory. The C=O distance is 1.18 A0, the C—Cl distance is 1.74 A0 and the Cl—C—Cl angle is 111.8 degree. It’s one of the simplest acid chlorides, being formally derived from carbonic acid. Because of safety issues, phosgene is always produced and consumed within the same plant and extraordinary measures are made to contain this toxic gas.
The important toxic industrial chemicals are handled by humans and if accidentally released into the environment may cause a disaster. One of the most important examples is chlorine gas. Chlorine gas was used for the first time during World War 1. Its symbol is Cl: Its molecular formula is Cl2. Its atomic number is 17 and atomic weight is 35.46. It’s a very poisonous gas and badly affects the mucous membrane.
Hazardous waste can be explosive, inflammable or prone to spontaneous combustion, corrosive and susceptible to unpredictable deadly combinations of non-compatible wastes etc.
Agro chemicals include chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and fungicides used in agriculture to destroy insects, fungi, bacteria, pests and weeds to regulate plant growth regulators, harvest aids and soil conditioners. It’s the Bhopal Gas Tragedy that underlined the dangers arising out of the storage of pesticides or their intermediates. Similar risks are inherent in the manufacture, formulation and transport of pesticides and their raw materials, formularies and their intermediates.
Apart from these there are many other chemical agents, which can cause a chemical disaster. Methyl Mercury, Arsenic, Lead etc are agents which are of major environmental poisons.
Even Natural gas and petroleum products can be used as agents for creating havoc and causalities. LNG can be transported by tankers and can be used as cryogenic agents for causing large fires, thereby creating mass panic reaction and fatalities. CNG cascades can have a devastating effect.
Keeping all these in mind, the WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Commission was launched by the Government of Sweden in Stockholm on December 16, 2003 to respond to the recent, profoundly worrying developments in International security, and in particular to investigate ways of reducing the dangers from nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological weapons.

Chaired by Dr Hans Blix, the former head of UNMOVIC and the IAEA, the WMD Commission comprises 14 eminent members, representing a broad and relevant geographical and political base with a vast reservoir of expert knowledge and political experience, spanning the Governmental, academic and nongovernmental arenas. The Commissioners serve in their personal capacity.  They meet periodically, discuss the issues, assess a range of expert studies and contribute their analyses, thoughts and proposals to the collective work of the Commission. The Commission aims to develop realistic proposals for the greatest possible reduction of the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, including both short-term and long-term approaches and non-proliferation and disarmament aspects.
The idea of an independent commission on weapons of mass destruction was initially put forward in 2002 by Jayantha Dhanapala, then UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs.  Concerned that in the post 9/11 geostrategic environment, weapons of mass destruction were acquiring a revived and dangerous attraction not only for states, but also for nonstate actors, such as terrorists, the idea arose from the need to find fresh and comprehensive approaches to addressing these threats from the perspectives of non-proliferation and disarmament, as well as preventing terrorism. The initiative was taken up in 2003 by the late Swedish Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh, who asked Dr Blix to set up and chair the WMD Commission.
Hence the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons states the following agenda’s:
a) Demilitarisation:
The most important obligation under the Convention is the destruction of chemical weapons. It is also the most expensive aspect of the Convention’s implementation.
b) Non-proliferation:

Each State Party shall adopt the necessary measures to ensure that toxic chemicals and their precursors are only developed, produced, otherwise acquired, retained, transferred, or used within its territory or in any other place under its jurisdiction or control for purposes not prohibited under this Convention.
c) Assistance and Protection:

Chemical weapons are frightening and dreadful weapons. All Member States have pledged to provide assistance and protection to fellow Member States threatened by the use of chemical weapons or attacked with chemical weapons.
d) International Cooperation:

The Organization’s international cooperation programmes focus on capacity building for the peaceful applications of chemistry in areas which are relevant to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Support programmes, funded by the Member States, enhance the ability of the Organization to hinder prohibited activity and to extend the benefits of peaceful uses of chemistry to all.
e) Universality:

Adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention demonstrates a state’s commitment to disarmament and international co-operation, and helps to reinforce its position in the mainstream of international politics. It builds confidence and transparency in security-related policies at regional and international levels.
f) National implementation:

The Secretariat’s implementation-support programmes help State Parties to meet their obligations under Article VII of the Convention. This includes establishing National Authorities for effective liaison with the OPCW; taking the necessary steps to enact legislation, including penal legislation, and to adopt administrative measures to implement the Convention; identifying declarable chemical-industry and trade activities; and submitting accurate declarations.
Trauma and Community Behaviour during a Chemical Disaster:

Chemical disaster has very far reaching effects beyond the immediate victims. Since fear is deliberately created and exploited during such attacks, it can undeniably be regarded as a form of psychological warfare affecting and attacking the behaviour of much wider target population. It is often very difficult to differentiate psychological harm caused by chemical terrorism from other illness. Previous events have showed that a large number of patients with psychological distress will impact emergency response and potentially overwhelm the health care system. There need to be strategies that need to be developed which could eliminate fear and will decrease subsequent mass psychological distress that may likely occur during a chemical disaster.
Research and documentation needs to be done on this subject and to find ways to reduce mass panic and bring normalcy.  There need a proper management of risks and need lot of research to find proper solutions. Risk Assessment is about identifying the potential hazards and risks associated with a substance, process or activity and determining ways of managing those hazards and risks before adverse effects become evident. A hazard is that which has the potential to cause harm either living organisms or to the physical environment. Risk is the likelihood or probability of suffering a harmful effect or effects resulting from exposure to some chemical, biological or physical agent or some other adverse effect occurring.
The evolutionary approach to risk assessment becomes less useful the more complex a system becomes. Indeed, a more rigid and mathematically based approach to risk assessment is developing because many people- made systems are so complex that it is not possible for one single person to understand the whole system. Risk Assessment attempts to quantify the probabilities and degrees of harm that result from a complex operation – which can significantly bring down the scale of Disasters which may be by accident or human induced. Proper assessment with proper mitigation strategies will definitely help to lessen the effects of a Chemical Disaster.

Please Note: The above writing on ‘Chemical Disaster’ is focused to aware the people and also to disseminate knowledge for students and members of the public to learn and know the ways to save oneself from Chemical Disasters. Incase, there is any mistake in the above data, kindly feel free to mail me at the e-mail address given below.

(Ref: Data taken from Organisation For The Prohibition Of Chemical Weapons, WMDC, National Disaster Management, ASEAN etc)
Thanks and Regards,
Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY – A NECESSITY FOR EFFECTIVE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

Emergency Management is a highly complex problem and has diverse manifestations. It’s a phenomenon which affects people in different ways and is the result of social, cultural, economic and political factors.  The links need to be found for analyzing a better Emergency Management. All crisis does not give rise to emergencies and the radical changes does not mean that it’s in negative. A Change may not necessary lead to the fulfillment of ones goal. The vision of the policy makers should be to assist the vulnerable and poor people to bring about positive change and to support their capacity to withstand adverse changes that may affect their social and economic developments. The changes should be made after proper thinking as any changes for the vulnerable people or the communities may give rise to a crisis that may overpower their capacity to cope and is a call for Emergency. Crisis is not only about this unexpected catastrophe but also the sum-up of this slow build-up of political, social, economic and environmental factors.

Along with all these issues, there is a combination of unexpected incident such as Cyclone, Flood, Earthquake, Drought or any other type of major accidents, which would definitely add to these changes in a very negative way. Hence, it is critical that relief interventions should aim to address these issues which are the standing parameters for a crisis and which leads to Disasters. It’s this inequity and poverty, which make people more vulnerable to the effects of Natural and Industrial Hazards. Environmental Degradation, which in itself is often poverty related may aggravate such hazards. It is a well known fact that Natural Resources are divided into two categories.  One is the renewable and the other is the non-renewable sources of energy. Human Beings would never lack vital materials if he/she would adjust his population size and resource demands at or below the level that allows the biogeochemical cycles to operate in such a way that materials as well as organizations are “reassembled” as fast they are “dispersed”. The shift from “special interest conservation” to “total ecosystem conservation” is helping to establish the fact in the minds of the general public that Human Beings is a part of a complex environment which must be studied, treated and modified as a whole and not on the basis of isolated “projects”. Hence Human Beings should take cautions while tampering with the Environment with lakes to draining, fillings, dredging, pollutions, stabilizations, mosquito control, algae control and the planting of any fish, which are able to swim. It’s we humans, who constrict them with levees and dams and then flush them with dredging, channelizations and floods and silt of bad farming.

These types of willingness may arise from three fallacies in thought. First each of these tampering is regarded as a separate project because it is carried out by disconnected projects by a separate bureau or profession, and as expertly executed because its proponents are trained, each in his own narrow field. The public does not know or understand that the bureaus may cancel one another and that expertness can cancel understanding. Second there is a notion that any materials built by constructed mechanism are better than the Natural ones. Third, we perceive organic behavior only in those organizations which we have built.

Its thus we human turn wise to tolerate a hasty type of tinkering and make radical amendment to our biotic constitution for our short term benefits. This can lead to a revolt of Ecology and can be rightly termed as ‘Ecological Backlashes’ or ‘Ecological boomerangs’. Thus it is right to define ecological backlash as an unforeseen detrimental consequences of an environmental modification which cancels out the projected gain or as is too often the case, actually creates more problems than it solves.


When it happens, it is a double tragedy since not only is the amount spent in remaking the landscape lost to bad investment but additional sums must then be spent to correct all the new problems created. Hence it is not possible for any independent agency to intervene in a strategic fashion without understanding the dynamics of change, to which there are many inter-related contributory factors, the most important are:

I} Environmental Degradation:

A)     Long Term processes producing patterns of vulnerability, such as environmental degradation.

When the human population of an area is small, poor land use may affect only the people who are guilty of bad judgment. As the population increases however, everyone suffers when land is improperly used because everyone eventually pay for rehabilitation or is now too often the case, everyone suffers a permanent loss of resources. A small example is if grasslands in low regions are plowed up and planted to wheat (poor land use), a “dust bowl” or temporary desert will sooner or later be a result.  If the grass cover is maintained and moderately grazed (good land use), no dust bowl will likely develop. It is a general observance that good land use planning has come only after human has first destroyed or damaged a landscape. It is just as the saying goes that Human does not seem to understand a system which he did not build and therefore he seemingly must partially destroy and rebuild before use limitations are understood.

One such factor which is of concern is: the soil conservation profession has tended to “sit on its laurels” and is failing to move with the times. For example, too much effort is now being devoted to creating more farmland by channelizing streams, draining marshes, swamps and so on, at great public expense when nothing is being done to save existing farmland from destruction by ill planned urban development. In general, soil conservation needs to go beyond its present rather exclusive farm range or forestry orientation to the consideration of the urban-rural landscape complex where the most pressing problems now exist.

One solution to these problems may be:

i)                    Cluster development: A cluster development of residential housing around village or town centers with each unit separated by broad green belts.

ii)                   By retaining stream valleys, steep slopes, lakes, marshes, aquifer recharge areas and waste disposal areas free from houses, buildings, and other high density uses. Without such planning, there might be no open space, and which would lead to the same kind of urban blight, chronic pollution and social disorder that we now observe in older, unplanned cities.

Generally, the short term profits that can be made by exploiting urban land are so huge that it is difficult for people to foresee the socio-ecologic backlashes and overshoots that accompany uncontrolled growth.

With the increase in population, food supplies will reduce resulting in increasing prices. Although as little as one third of an acre can produce enough calories to sustain one person, the kind of quality diet we want – one that includes a lot of meat, fruit and leafy vegetables – requires about 1.5 acres per person (Odum).

In other words, the size and quality of the “environmental house” should be an important consideration and not the number of resources; we can relentlessly squeeze from the earth. A reasonable goal could be to stress on the fact that a third of all land could be under open space use. The dependence of a city on the countryside for all its vital resources (food, water, air and so on) and the dependence of the country on the city for economic resources must become so widely recognized that the present political confrontation that exits between the rural and urban populations is obliterated. Somehow, environmental sciences and natural disaster management must be merged.

B)      Contingent or proximate event producing reductions in resources or entitlements, such as a Natural Disaster viz drought

Here comes the concept of biotic communities. A biotic community is any assemblage of populations living in a prescribed area or physical habitat. It is an extent that it is has characteristics additional to its individual and population components and functions as a unit through coupled metabolic transformations. It is the living part of the eco-system as indicated in a statement.

Biotic Communities is and should remain a broad term which may be used to designate natural assemblages of various stages from the biota of a log to that of a vast forest or ocean.  Major communities are those which are of sufficient size and completeness of organization that they are relatively independent.

The community concept is important in the practice of ecology because it is seen that as the communities grows so is the growth of an organism. Thus often the best way to “control” a particular organism whether we wish to encourage or discourage it, is to modify the community, rather than to make a direct “attack” on the organism.  Let’s take an example; it is often observed that mosquitoes can often be controlled more efficiently and cheaply by modifying the entire aquatic community (it can be done by fluctuating the water level, for example) than by attempting to poison the organism. Lets take the example of “weeds” thrive under continual disturbance of the soil and the best way to control weeds along a road side, for example is to stop scarping and plowing up road shoulders and way sides and encourage the development of a stable vegetation in which the weeds can not compete.  Hence, human welfare similarly depends on the nature of the communities and ecosystems upon which HE/SHE superimposes his/her culture.

All these add to trauma of the residents, when there is a sudden Natural Disaster like Cyclones, Hurricanes, Earthquakes etc. Environmental Mitigation measures are the need of the hour.

II} Sustainable Livelihoods:

The real basis for assessing the appropriateness of any type of intervention is an understanding of livelihood systems and the strategies in which people are already engaged, the problems which they face and the ways in which they are adapting to changing environmental and economic conditions. The notion of “livelihood” systems” takes into account the wide range of people’s roles, activities, personal capacities and resources, which make up the way they make a living; and how these elements are related to each other.

Its here comes the concept of serving the poor profitability. These are the people who have great needs, but they can’t express their needs in a way which may matter to markets. Markets seem to avoid the needs as it doesn’t bring profit and hence poor always tends to remain poorer. It’s where Government and corporate houses comes into play and try to make a difference. But today Corporate Social Responsibility seemed to break that ‘tax free’ attitude and has come for the betterment of the World as more World Business Leaders tries to come forward with their aim to improve the smaller parts of the World where there presence is left.

Even if there are many allegations to the fact that CSR is for branding and bring a good image to the members of the public as well as to the stakeholders, but there are always positive things attached to it. CSR contributes for the betterment of atleast few marginalized sections of the Society. Well, in practical the number far exceeds our imagination. For example Mittal Steel at Kazakhstan owned and operated a Steel Plant and to make the place better Mittal Steel also renewed the tramways, the power plants, the hotels and the Stadiums and developed Social activities such as children’s camps. This was a need for the ordinary people for good infrastructure, good education. A dream of theirs filled by one Corporate through their CSR. That’s development. It’s all about helping the targeted communities and also doing Business. A win and win situation for both the community as well as the Corporate.

One practical approach as done by some American Corporate is to allow the Industry take a leadership role to the social problems and find the ways to a sustainable livelihood in even the remote parts of the Country. It would bring funds to run these social projects effectively. It’s like Industry houses searching ways to align self interest with the larger good of the society.  When business backs philanthropic initiatives with real corporate muscle and expertise, things can drastically improve at the remote areas of a country, since in addition to cash they are providing nonprofits with managerial advice, technological and communications support, and teams of employee volunteers and they are not just funding those initiatives not only for philanthropy budgets but also from business units such as marketing and human resources. In the process, corporate houses may like to form strategic alliances with non-profits and emerging as important partners in movements for social change while advancing their business goals. These are not short term goals but needs a planning for long term management of the issues, which are addressed above.

Hence the results may not show its flavor in the present as we still believe in our notion of giving relief to the persons who are in urgent needs, but surely would give dividends in the future. There are still millions, who don’t have nutritious food. They don’t have proper house to live in. The amazing innovations that we are proud of i.e. Computers, Good Food, Technologies etc generally passes by. They remain in the same place with no growth. Yet, when we talk about development and social reforms we talk of elevating the lives of those who are not so much fortunate.

This is the reason; we need successful interventions so that they contribute to long term impacts on poverty and well being. It’s when there is Social and Environmental Sustainability; we would move a step ahead in successful applications of Disaster Management Planning and Policies and in turn would move towards a Safer India for us as well as for our future generations.

Thanks a lot for reading.
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Please send your feedback in the e-mail address given below.
Thanks and Regards,
Mr. Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

RELIEF GUIDELINES: AN ESSENTIAL PART OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT

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EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT OF DISASTERS:

In any emergency, the response by Governments and Aid organizations can be successful if AID reaches in time and to everyone in need. But in disaster zones worldwide, despite the best efforts of many, a great need remains.

The main factors that happen in the disaster areas are:

1) Importance shifting to other points.

2) There is a clear lack of dialogue during the distribution of relief as a result there is discrimination based on the reasons of sex, ethnicity, religion etc.

3) The people of above sixty and disabled have difficulties in getting relief. The older persons and the disabled may find it difficult to travel to distribution sites and often do not have strength to carry the goods back to their shelters. This is the case, when the sites are located high above due to some security reasons. Mobility is also a big problem for these people, where flooding or other type of disasters is regular.

The elderly are often deemed helpless. When the Iranian city of Bam was destroyed by an earthquake in December 2003, killing over 26,000 people, disaster response experts were helped by local elderly men of influence who organized community responses across the city.

When relief material was distributed following the Indian Ocean Tsunami, An older people stood alone in the remains of his thatched roof and refused to join for collection of relief for him. Asked why he did not join in and he shook his head and said that’ it’s of no use. I’ve been pushed out before and have fallen on the ground.

There is also same problem in Haiti Earthquake Relief Response (2010)

These are the challenges which are faced in general:

1) Use of untrained or unqualified personnel, lack of adherence to quality and accountability standards, as well as humanitarian principles and values and the non-utilization of local response capacities and skills.

2) Sometimes delayed entry of foreign relief workers or goods and equipment, lengthy procedures for gaining legal status to operate in the disaster-affected countries.

Special emphasis should be given to Women during a disaster as they are most vulnerable. So, whether disabled or not, young or old, of whatever colour or race, women remain the most vulnerable and discriminated category, whereas the first local response comes from women.

At Banda Aceh, over 70 % of Staff of local NGOs delivering relief in Banda Aceh were women. There are instances where women were denied their rights to relief. Then there is violence against women at conflict areas. Alongside contraventions of women’s rights, disaster after disaster produces irrefutable evidence that with displacement- be it as a result of natural hazards or conflict- the risks of physical abuse to women and girls rises substantially. The nature of the discrimination varies but commonly includes sexual violence, exploitation and abuse, forced prostitution, domestic violence, trafficking, forced and early marriage and widow inheritance.

In general some disaster prone communities are also vulnerable to discrimination. This happens especially with some groups, households and individuals. A disaster can reinforce various forms of discrimination. May it be social or may it be political or may it be racial.

Another challenge, which is faced by the agencies are lack of continuous focus on the affected areas. This is due to the fact that when a disaster happens, in general the Media of the World focuses its attention to it. But at times, when things almost are half done, a different quite similar type of incidence occurs in some other part of the World and Journalists based there are given marching orders. This does hamper the development and the aid work, which was conducted in the area. Not only the agencies loses there focus but the obvious question that arises is that the Job/task remains half done. Later, we again bring some rehabilitation project into the area and that again involves lots of money. In the mean time, the persons involved in the first task loses there attention and thus lot of motivation is required for the new project officers to conduct the task. This is from my personal experience. Hence Journalists should be on board on disaster relief committees.

How to meet this challenge?

We have every reason to see that this is really a great challenge, which need to be addressed. We have to take some time and think on these lines. So, any international organizations should have separate regions and separate force ready to tackle the issues.

The international community needs to agree on clear definitions of all potential minority groups to prevent opposing interpretations and to ensure a common understanding of the vulnerability of minorities. Aid agencies need to improve initial need assessments by sharing information learning from experience and developing indicators on the impacts of discrimination. Minority and vulnerable groups need to be supported and enabled to participate in the planning; design and implementation of all emergency and non-emergency programmes. Agencies need to advocate within communities to change existing negative attitudes towards minority and vulnerable groups.

It’s a tough task, but if these can be done then, we can move one step towards a sustainable world. Agencies need to advocate within communities to change existing negative attitudes towards minority and vulnerable groups. Government and Non-Governmental agencies must also identify and address obvious and hidden discrimination, within their organizations.

On the other hand disasters do not discriminate. They strike indiscriminately, affecting minorities and majorities alike. However, there are various impacts to discrimination. The vast desert and semi-desert region in northern Kenya is home to 3 million people ‘ most of whom are pastoralists. By 2006, there has been drought in the region. In Wajir in north eastern Kenya, visiting journalists reported that many grazing cattle had died by March and that two-thirds of the people were dependent on food aid. The crippling drought was then followed by floods. The appalling infrastructure seriously hampered the food and medical aid distribution programme, as the only road to the worst affected area had reportedly been washed away. The United Nations now has sophisticated early warning system in place, based on factors such as expected rainfall and crop yield, which can forecast when critical food shortages are likely to arise in advance. Then the obvious question comes to one’s mind is that why the Government did not act in time. There may be many reasons but one may be due to the fact that Kenya’s political elite consider or regard the pastoralist way of life as an anachronism. Often it is seen that geographically distant from the capital cities; pastoralists are also sidelined politically, lacking the influence to press their case in the corridors of power.

Now with the effect of climate change felt in most parts of the world, we have a problem in the desert areas of Africa. It is also clear that the long term impact can be catastrophic. Hence, the more we go on neglecting these issues; we are going to make our fellow brother’s and sisters’ more and more dependent to disaster relief assistance. Not only that there are evidence of caste based discrimination in some parts of the World. After the Indian Ocean Tsunami, ‘Dalits’ who are treated as ‘untouchables’ in the Hindu caste system, were forbidden by other castes from drinking water from UNICEF water tanks because sharing with Dalits would, in their view pollute the water. So, discrimination can be deep rooted, not just for operational relief work but also for recovery and further rehabilitation work.

So, what could lead to a better relief?

a) The donor agency should see and include minority peoples in the team. Ideally the ratio of minority peoples in the organization should equal the ratio of minority peoples among the public.

b) Educate minority peoples with the aim of developing community resilience as well as obtaining professionals from the communities.

c) Be aware of discrimination against the minorities in humanitarian work, by self examination as well as through consultations with people from the community and human rights specialists.

d) Participate in advocacy in domestic, regional and international forums. Humanitarian organizations can also play a vital role in human rights advocacy.

e) Develop indicators on the impact of discrimination against minorities in disaster management with the co-operation of human rights.

Now the donors and the funding agencies should look into these aspects:

a) Put more value on the issue of discrimination in humanitarian operations. Disaster Relief and discrimination are inseparable issues.

b) Examine the possibility of introducing special measures for minority groups, particularly those who do not have access to basic materials.

c) Understand the vulnerability of minorities, especially those who are prone to being affected by disasters. If the region has a history of disasters, then there is an absolute need for disaster preparedness.

I visited Assam India and I found that the State Red Cross Branch, under Indian Red Cross Society have built orphanages out of their own resources. Kids in the age of 1-3 years are their occupants at ‘Sishu Gram’ (Sishu in English means Children and Gram in English means Village).

Recent floods have washed out everything. The donor attention should also focus into these aspects while funding for any program. Disasters bring along with them lots of trauma and pain. Especially the Children are the most affected. They are the living dead. A small contribution for their education and care in good shelters can make wonders. It’s not an emotional statement, but a fact which is hard to ignore.

Media:

In a disaster, it is common to see images of children, often vulnerable, unwell, used by humanitarian agencies to generate compassion and funds. While the images can create the desired effect with donors, children’s protection and special needs are rarely incorporated within budget lines and programmes, resources are not prioritized and there is a lack of clear strategies to support and protect children.

Children are too often used to generate support, but they do not always enjoy the benefits.

So, what can be done?

Prioritize prevention of discrimination and violence against children. This means clear budget lines for prevention programmes and services.

There is also a need to enhance the capacity of all humanitarian personnel through education on children’s rights.

Create accessible, safe and child-friendly reporting systems and services. This includes safe, well-publicized, confidential and accessible mechanisms for children, their caregivers and others to prevent and report violence against children.

Help to improve collaboration between humanitarian agencies. This includes developing clear systems and standards to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children at all stages of a disaster ‘ preparedness, response and recovery. Children don’t get the support they need.

Hence, separate funds should be allocated solely for the purpose of children. Community Recovery Committees ‘ a diverse group including different ethnicities, backgrounds and genders that are well trained, with adequate resources and able to communicate with the formal humanitarian system- can greatly assist equitable assistance. An oversight mechanism to ensure that discrimination against poor and neglected groups is minimized in the committees is needed and their assessments have to be cross-checked.

I do believe that a little attention to the above mentioned problems and its solutions can help us to create a Safer World for us as well as for our future generations. Hence, we need to have effective Relief Guidelines for proper management of disasters.

I faced the situations.  Heart-rending situations in a disaster area bring tears in ones eyes. I am not emotional, but what is stated above are true facts. Please put a comment, if your time permits. I will be glad to see your support on the above issue.

Let’s together join hands and create a Safer, Stronger, Greener and a Disaster Free 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,

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

CREATING LIFE: IS IT A BLESSING OR A CALL FOR AN UNKNOWN DISASTER?

Life was formed 3.6 billion years ago. Some scientist’s are of different view. There are various models for origin of life and is a debatable issue. Religious groups take a different stand. But whatever it is, evolution of life is still a mystery. Scientists after their experiment had arrived at a conclusion that life arose from a single cell. That which has the capacity to replicate, and its progeny replicated them, and so on, with lots of genetic twists and it is carried on from generations to generations and thus we find the living beings in this world.

Imagine all this started with just a DNA (Deoxy Ribo Nuclic Acid)!

Today, every living organism – every person, plant, animal and microbe – can trace its heritage back to that first cell.

Imagine amongst this present day species, arrives some new comers and here we are not talking of some extraterrestrials. Scientists in the last couple of years have been trying to create novel forms of life. They’ve forged chemicals into synthetic DNA, the DNA into genes, genes into genomes and built the molecular machinery of completely new organisms in their lab, such type of organisms that are nothing like anything Nature has produced before. We do not know, what forms of life that would be. Will the new species succumb us or it will help us to move our life with more ease is a question, which time can only answer. If the earlier fact is true then we are into trouble. As, it would be the reason for a new disaster!

If the latter part is true, we can live a better life. The notion of creating life in the lab has plenty of detractors. Some Scientists aren’t convinced it can be done and religious leaders and environmentalists are in arm against this move. But there are also lots of advantages to it. Jay Keasling at UC Berkeley received $ 42 million from Bill Gates to create living microfactories that manufacture a powerful antimalaria agent. (Newsweek). Imagine that a microbe being created that would circulate in the blood and hunt down Cancer Cells, Imagine such type of bio devices that could conceivably have enormous advantages over traditional manufacturing processes and sources of material. Cell machinery that could operate the equivalent of multistep production lines at molecular level, fabricating complex chemical products precisely, atom by atom.  They would also work cheaply and efficiently, fed by simple safe substances like sugar. A few such types of projects are already giving us a glimpse of the power of this new field. The most extraordinary effort is to create a microbial organism that would produce a powerful antimalarial drug.

New York Times newspaper reports: ‘Such Biofabs produce made- to- order genes, the stretches of DNA that contain the instructions for living creatures.’ Sale of gene-synthesis industry are estimated at only $ 50 million a year, but they are growing rapidly. One foundry in Germany, has gone public. It says it expects sales this year to increase at least 60% , to 12.5 million euros, or about $17 billion, New York Times report.

The ability to make genes has given rise to a new subject called synthetic biology, which might lead to artificial life in very few years. Genetic Engineers extract a gene from an organism. Then they might modify it and put it in a different organism. There is certainly a behavior change in the organism. It then acts in the desired way. And once this bio device is designed and properly fabricated, the hard work becomes over – its users can instruct it to make as many copies of itself, by itself, as are needed. This Biodevices could make impossible drugs, including ones that are quite impossible to create through traditional chemistry. While there might be some other biodevices created that act as sensitive environmental biosensors, programmed to detect and degrade specific toxic organisms or  act as indicators like glow in the proximity of a biological, chemical or radioactive weapon. Anything is possible with these genetically modified organisms.

An organization is eyeing an even bigger prize: a self sustaining, highly efficient biological organism that converts sunlight directly into clean biofuel, with minimal environmental impact and zero net release of greenhouse gases (Newsweek).

Now, look at it in this way. Imagine that any of these mutated forms of biodevice doesn’t obey orders.

A species, which becomes an enemy of its own masters, it’s own Gods.

Probably, it would be a day, when humans have to wage war against that unknown species, which if wins, would lead to our extinction. Pope Benedict XVI has expressed outrage at scientists who “modify the very grammar of life as planned and willed by God.”

Some critics point out that Government should devise some regulations for saving Humans from any such mishaps.  “The result is not bioterror,” ETC Group, a technology watcher said in a report, “but BIOERROR” and we write our own annihilation story.

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Please send your feedback in the e-mail address given below.

Thanks and Regards,

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

EARTHQUAKE AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT


An earthquake is a series of vibrations on the earth’s surface caused by the generation of elastic (seismic) waves due to sudden rupture within the earth during release of accumulated strain energy.

Faulting may be considered as an immediate cause of an earthquake.    Due to constant movement of plates, deformation is caused which results to generations of strain energy. Indian  plate is moving in  north-north-east  direction  and  colliding  with  Eurasian  plate   along  the  Himalayas. All earthquakes, let it be the Gujarat Earthquake, Kutch (16 Jun, 1819, Magnitude 8), Shillong Plateau Earthquake (12 Jun 1897, Magnitude 8.7), Bihar Nepal Border Earthquake (15 Jan 1934, Magnitude 8.3), Arunachal Pradesh China Earthquake (15 Aug, 1950), Gujarat Earthquake, Bhuj (26 Jan 2001, Magnitude 7.7), Sumatra Earthquake (26 December, 2004, Magnitude 9.3), Kashmir Earthquake (08 October, 2005) have same story to tell about our destruction and annihilation.

The Recent Earthquake at Haiti (13 January, 2010, Magnitude 7) again repeats our helplessness to this mighty force of nature. Management of earthquake has become very crucial in this trouble times.

Severity of an Earthquake is measured by:

  • Slight – Magnitude up to 4.9 in a Richter Scale
  • Moderate – Magnitude up to 5 to 6.9 in a Richter Scale
  • Great – Magnitude up to 7.0 to 7.9 in a Richter Scale
  • Very Great – Magnitude up to 8.0 and more

A proactive stance to reduce the toll of disasters in the region requires a more comprehensive approach that encompasses both pre-disaster risk reduction and post disaster recovery. It is framed by new policies and institutional arrangements that support effective action. These types of approaches need the following set of activities:

  • Risk analysis to identify the kind of risks faced by the people and development investments as well as magnitude
  • Prevention and mitigation to address the structural sources of vulnerability
  • Risk transfer to spread financial risks over time and among different actors
  • Emergency preparedness and response to enhance a country’s readiness to cope quickly and effectively
  • Post disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction to support effective recovery and to safeguard against future disasters.

There are different types of theories which states about the causes of an earthquake. Hence the true nature of an earthquake must be well understood before adopting any control measures.

Two models were suggested. One was the Dilatancy –Diffusion Theory developed in the USA and the other is the Dilatancy – Instability theory of the then USSR.

The interesting fact is that the first stage of both the models is an increase of elastic strain in a rock that causes them to undergo a dilatancy state, which is an inelastic increase in volume that starts after the stress on a rock reaches one half its breaking strength. Hence it is in this state the first physical change takes place indicating future earthquake.

The USA model suggests that the dilatancy and fracture of the rocks are first associated with low water containing dilated rock, which helps in producing lower seismic event. The pore water pressure then increases due to influx of water into the open fracture, weakening the rock and facilitating movement along the fracture, which is termed as an earthquake.

Now let us take the Russian Model: The first phases is accompanied by an avalanches of fracture that release some stress but produce an unstable situation that eventually cause a large movement along a fracture. Seismic gaps are defined as an area along active fault zones, capable of producing large earthquake but that have not recently produced an earthquake.

It is these areas which are thought to bring in tectonic strain and which are the candidates for future large earthquake. Any fault that has moved during quaternary can be called as active fault. It is generally assumed that these faults could get displaced at any time. Faults that have been inactive for the last 3 million years are generally classified as inactive fault.

Active fault are basically responsible for seismic shaking and surface rupture (Sinha et al.2000). Like all other natural hazards earthquakes also produce primary and secondary effects. Primary effects include surface vibration, which may be associated with surface rupture and displacement long fault plane. These vibrations may sometimes lead to the total collapse of large buildings, dams, tunnels, pipelines and other rigid structures.

Secondary effects of an earthquake include a variety of short range events: such as liquefaction landslides, fires, tsunamis and floods. Long range effects include regional phenomenon such as regional subsidence or emergence of landmasses, river shifting and regional changes in ground level.

The main objective of earthquake preventive measures should be to develop and promote knowledge, practices and policies that reduce fatalities, injuries and other economic losses from an earthquake. Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing provides a tool effective and efficient storage and manipulation of remotely sensed data and other spatial and non-spatial data types for both scientific management and policy oriented information. This can be used to facilitate measurement, mapping, monitoring and modeling of variety of data type’s related natural phenomenon.

The critical areas that need focus for effective Earthquake Management are:

• Lack of awareness among various stakeholders about the seismic risk;

• Inadequate attention to structural mitigation measures in the engineering education syllabus;

• Inadequate monitoring and enforcement of earthquake-resistant building codes and town planning

bye-laws;

• Absence of systems of licensing of engineers and masons;

• Absence of earthquake-resistant features in non-engineered construction in suburban and rural

areas;

• Lack of formal training among professionals in earthquake-resistant construction practices; and

• Lack of adequate preparedness and response capacity among various stakeholder groups.

A number of organizations, like NGOs, self-help groups, CBOs, youth organizations, women’s groups, volunteer agencies, Civil Defense, Home Guards, etc. volunteer their services in the aftermath of any disaster. Large-scale natural disasters draw overwhelming humanitarian support from different stakeholders. The relief and response activities carried out by such stakeholder’s comply with the norms prescribed by the appropriate authorities. After an earthquake, accurate information is generally provided on the extent of the damage and the details of the response activities through electronic and print media.

The personal dos and don’ts at the time of an earthquake are given below for reference and awareness generation:

DO’S:

  • Take shelter under a desk, table, bed   or doorway during an earthquake.
  • Provide help to others and develop confidence.
  • Shut off kitchen gas.
  • Keep stock of drinking water, food stuff and first aid arrangements.
  • If you are in a moving vehicle, stop and stay in vehicle.
  • Follow and advocate local safety building code for earthquake resistant construction.
  • Heavy objects, glasses should be kept on lower shelf.
  • Turn on transistor or T.V.  to get latest information.
  • Make plan and preparation for emergency relief.

DON’Ts

  • Do not get panicky
  • Do not use candles, matches etc and do not switch any electric mains immediately after an earthquake.
  • Do not spread and  believe in  rumors
  • Do not run through or near buildings during an  earthquake

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Please send your feedback in the e-mail address given below.

Thanks and Regards,

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

CYCLONE MANAGEMENT

Millions of people living in the coastal areas of the West Atlantic, East, South Pacific and North and South Indian Oceans, regularly face the hazards of cyclone, also known as hurricane in the Western Hemisphere, typhoon in the western Pacific, willy willy near Australia and baguious in the Philippines.

Every cyclone begins as tropical low – pressure depressions, created by oceanic temperature rising above 26 degrees Celsius, which rotates clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and counter clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, forming a gigantic and highly volatile atmosphere system with an eye at the vortex (10 to 50 Km) which is a relatively calm area, an eye wall (10 to 15 Km in height and 50 Km in length) of gale winds and intense clouds and spiral bands of convective clouds with torrential rains (a few Km wide and hundreds of Km long) – that move above 34 knots (64 Km per hour). The cyclones moving more than 90 Km, 120 Km and 225 Km per hour respectively have been classified as severe and super cyclones.

The hurricanes in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific basins are classified in categories I to V as per Saffir-Simpson Intensity Scale.

The lessons drawn from catastrophic cyclonic areas show that in the more developed countries, causality is less but more on the economic front.  Conversely in poor countries the human losses would be more but economic losses would be less simply because the unit costs of damages are assessed lower in developing countries. In middle income countries the damages to life and property would be somewhere in between.

The most complex task of mitigation is to map the hazard, risks and vulnerabilities of cyclone at all levels, analyze and assess the levels of risks and monitor it continuously. It is only on the basis of such knowledge base that a proper and effective strategy for cyclone risk mitigation and preparedness can be developed.

Atmospheric and Remote Sensing sciences have made a huge progress in the understanding of the phenomenon of cyclones. Satellite images can spot the development of low pressure zones, Doppler radars can track them down and instrumented aircrafts can reach the cyclone eye, eye walls and spiral bands to transmit data on wind velocity, pressure and moisture contents of the low pressure zones. Powerful Software tools are available to analyze the data to make fairly accurate forecasts on the intensity, direction and location of the landfall and the likely areas to be affected by winds, rain and storm surges.

The time series data on cyclones are now utilized to map and zone the areas prone to the hazards of cyclone. Such maps are now available at a regional, district and even sub district levels in most of the countries. Such maps are also available in digital formats which enable integration of various spatial data with socio-economic, housing, infrastructure and other variables that can provide a quick assessment of the risks and vulnerabilities of cyclone based on which appropriate mitigation and preparedness strategies can be developed.  But actual work on such data integration has been limited to few areas only and therefore vulnerability analysis has still to be done on the basis of ground level data collection and analysis, which is largely unattended task in most of the countries.

The satellite imageries are also supplemented with data regarding topography, vegetation, hydrology, land –use, land cover, settlement pattern etc to develop numerical models of storm surge and the inundation levels based on which timely warnings can be issued and realistic evacuation plans can be drawn up to shift the people and cattle likely to be affected by the cyclone.

However, such theoretical advances on cyclone modeling have been confronted with constraints in practical applications which would require more sustained research for accurate forecasting and simpler application format that would enable transfer of the technology to the planners and emergency response managers.

The constraints are further compounded by non-availability of accurate ground level data base and the costs involved in up-scaling such models from a pilot research phase to country wide application phase. Such works are still in progress even in advanced countries and therefore developing countries may not have the benefit of such accurate modeling in the very near future although this is well within the realm of possibility.

The other solution is the importance of Community Based Participatory Risk Assessment (PRA). Many such PRA tools have been developed in coastal areas which capture the intimate knowledge and perception that a community has about its own risks and vulnerabilities. Such perceptions have been validated by scientific analysis, lending credence to the reliability, simplicity and cost effectiveness of such assessment. More importantly, it involves the communities in the entire process making it democratic, sustainable and proactive and definitely facilities bridging the gap between assessment and preparedness or knowledge and action.

Therefore the ideal tool for assessment of cyclone risks and vulnerabilities at the local level should be a combination of scientific and traditional knowledge each supplementing the other.

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

A Hiroshima – Climate Change Annihilation Story

Hiroshima is the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshū, the largest island of Japan. Hiroshima was founded on the river delta coastline of the Seto Inland Sea in 1589 by Mōri Terumoto.

A city destroyed by an Atom Bomb ( at 8:15 -Hiroshima Time) known as “Little Boy”, a gun type fission weapon with 60 Kilograms (130 lb) of Uranium-235, took 57 seconds to fall from the aircraft to the predetermined detonation height of about 600 meters (2000 ft) above the city.

An estimate suggested that 69% of Hiroshima’s buildings were destroyed and 70,000–80,000 people or some 30% of the population of Hiroshima were killed immediately, and another 70,000 injured. Over 90% of the doctors and 93% of the nurses in Hiroshima were killed or injured—most had been in the downtown area which received the greatest damage.  So, how many people was a sacrifice to this bomb? Those who had lived through the catastrophe placed the number of the deaths at least 100,000.

In the Milky Way Galaxy, there lies another destination for people to stay, its called ‘Earth’. Here is a description of what Earth is like: It’s the third planet from the Sun, and the fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest, most massive, and densest of the Solar System’s four terrestrial (or rocky) planets. It is sometimes referred to as the World or the Blue Planet.

It’s the Home to millions of species including humans.

Imagine this Earth being destroyed by a thousand times strong force of Mother Nature engulfing from all sides. Tropical cyclones out at sea causing huge waves, torrential rains, high winds disrupting and destructing everything on the way causing wide spread demolition. Very strong winds stirring up water and destroy buildings, bridges, outside objects, turning loose debris into deadly flying projectiles. Sea level rising and you have no place to go. You see the end of your only living city in the Milky Way; ‘THE EARTH’.  Imagine solar storms bombarding this ‘Earth’ with lots of radiation energy, knocking out power grids and destroying satellites and you go back to the Dark Age suddenly without any warning. Is it just our fantasy or it may happen some day? Only time can answer to these questions.

It was during the 1980s that the possibility of rapid climatic change occurring at the time-scale of human life more or less fully recognized, largely due to the Greenland ice core drilled at Dye 3 in Southern Greenland (Dansgaard et al., 1982, 1989). A possible link between such events and the mode of operation of the ocean was then subsequently suggested (Oeschger et al., 1984; Broecker et al., 1985; see Broecker, 1997, for a recent review).

The Second Assessment Report, IPCC reviewed the evidence of such changes since the peak of the last inter-glacial period about 120 thousands of years before present (BP). It concluded that:

(1) Large and rapid climatic changes occurred during the last Ice Age and during the transition towards the present Holocene;

(2) Temperatures were far less variable during this latter period

(3) Suggestions those rapid changes may have also occurred during the last inter-glacial period, which requires confirmation.

Calculations are not so easy. Researchers need to understand the behavior of the major ice sheets that cover Greenland, Antarctic and Arctic. Any of these collapses and we are in danger. While computer models now yield an increasingly sophisticated understanding of how a warning atmosphere would behave, such models have yet to fully encapsulate the complex processes that regulate ice sheet behavior.

“The question is: Can we predict sea level? We have to watch the oceans to see what happens and we may observe the change much more than we ever predict it.

There’s a continent of topography sitting under Antarctica. Everything there has an impact on how the ice sheet flows, and very little of that has been mapped.

Whatever it is, the world has been getting warmer by 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit every decade, a U.N. panel found this year, in part because of carbon dioxide and other human-generated gases that trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere. By nature’s clock, the warming has come in an instant. The mechanisms that helped animals adapt during previous warming spells — evolution or long-range migration — often aren’t able to keep up. Scientists say that effects are beginning to show from the Arctic to the Appalachian Mountains. One study, which examined 1,598 plant and animal species, found that nearly 60 percent appeared to have changed in some way.

Some of the best-known changes are happening near the poles, where the air and the water are warming especially quickly. As they do, sea ice is receding. For some animals, this has meant literally the loss of the ground beneath their feet.

So, who knows when we lose the ground below our feet? This could be the annihilation story of a city ‘Earth’ in Milky Way, where humans lived.

Disaster Management specialists are always on the move. Making plans and policies far in advance to meet the challenge of climate change. So, no matter if Copenhagen could show us the way or not, we need to be ready personally.  We need to act fast and make a move to know the details of climate change and its solutions.

Any wrong move by the Nations could leave the Aliens (if ever they exist) celebrate ‘Earth Day’ in a far away planet only to tell a tale of another annihilation story.

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Kindly give your feedback.

Please feel free to contact the disaster management consultant, in case your Organization needs any consultancy on Disaster Management.

Thanks and Regards,

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

Psychological Support In Disaster Management

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Disasters can happen anytime and at anyplace. Natural disasters are so frequent that one generally attributes it to fate. Sometimes the destructive forces of Nature become so strong that all our plans and policies fall like cards. We become helpless infront of the mighty Nature. When everything comes to an end, wherever one looks, the sight of the helpless victims fills our eyes. Children’s become orphans. Husbands lose their wives and vice-versa. The scenes are extremely painful. Lots of money in the form of grants flows for reconstruction. The obvious question that comes to ones mind is:

Is monetary help really meets their needs?

The answer will be in negative. Scenes horrendous in nature, fear, trauma and stress do engulf them. They are living dead.

The only solution to the problem is Psychological Support. In many projects a good psychological support program misses.

We have to explore those and that’s what humanity is all about.

Psychological support has become an important component of the disaster preparation and response repertoire. This occurred in the background of the need to understand mechanisms for the reduction of hazards related to disasters. The United Nations International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), 1990-99, was dedicated to promoting solutions to reduce risks from natural hazards (ISDR 2002). But it’s not always Natural Disasters that happens and leaves a scar in the minds of the people. It’s also man-made situations or accidents, which do lead to devastations. Now, it is recognized that riots, industrial accidents, acts of terrorism, internal displacement and insurgency are also roots cause for Psychological Trauma for the people. Though, these types of support are being carried out by different organizations, yet we have to do more. We need an effective trauma management throughout the World. Trauma includes major injury of all types — disasters, auto accidents, falls, industrial accidents, burns, shootings etc. Serious trauma is the leading killer of humans. Millions across the World are disabled and some permanently. If we look through the doors of history, we will find that by middle of 1970s, the growth and development of mental hospitals was the main approach for the provision of mental health services.

In India, several disasters took place. Among them is Bangalore circus tragedy (1981). It was a major disaster and the lessons learned were ‘High Emotional Stress and morbidity by survivors not addressed by health personnel’.

Bhopal Gas Leak disaster: (December 1984) where, physicians and other health personnel’s were not prepared to offer psychological support to the victims. Even till today, the horrible memories haunt them.

Orissa Cyclone was another example. Left over 10,000 dead. Approximately 15 million affected and displaced. Initial and two year surveys show high emotional stress present among survivors.

The Gujarat earthquake was another example. Over 20,000 people dead in acute phase and 100,000 with severe disabilities. Good health care, with no psychological support when many needed emotional care is the root cause of creation of secondary disasters.

Many lessons were learned but still remains a serious issue less addressed. When we talk of improved technologies; use of GIS and Remote Sensing, mitigation policies, construction and renovation, we seldom talk of this soft part of humanity, which makes us a Human. The response to any type of crisis should also include Psychological First Aid, Crisis Intervention, Defusing, Education and solution-focused counseling. Psychological support then must be framed within the existing and accepted methodologies of the continuum of disasters. Different types of trauma may affect the victims. There are different ways in which the response may affect the survivors.

These include:

i) Major elements of loss

ii) Exposure to bodies

iii) Degradation and Humiliation in cases of trauma motivated by racial or religious reasons

iv) Forced separation and relocation.

Depending upon the types of disasters, the survivor may assume different types of emotional roles:

i) The survivor assumes the role of victim and responds as victimized.

ii) The survivor assumes the role of victor and responds to the event in an active way that will foster problem-solving skills and learning and will make the person resilient after the event.

Now if we take the second point and move forward, we could surely able to make experts who have not only faced the crisis but also channel their experience towards better Psychological Support. The Psychological support program does not perceive the survivors as passive actors during an emergency or a disaster, but relies on the resourcefulness of the survivor and the capacity of individuals and communities to become resilient.

So, the ways to move forward are:

i) Pre-disaster Management:

Design and implement psychological first- aid training

ii) During the disaster: People’s response based on previous knowledge and level of coping

iii) Post Disaster: Assessment and treatment of Psychological Symptoms

iv) End Result: Reduce responses of distress and negative behavioral changes McFarlane (1995), who studied the relationship between training and preparation to post-disaster said that education about possible disaster experiences and how to deal with them, training through simulations and awareness of likely psychological reactions in both responders and survivors are very helpful. In general, the professional community would benefit from focusing on psychological support before, during and after a disaster.

Community people react differently before a disaster and after a disaster.

Pre-Disaster :

This is a period, when a community reacts in various ways. Members of the community may be anxious when a disaster is imminent, especially if they have not experienced one before and they may not respond adequately to the event. When a disaster cannot be predicted; let’s take the example of earthquakes or a volcanic eruptions, the community may become anxious and over-respond to the event, which may be detrimental to their well being. The common sources of anxiety include the threat to ones own life and the safety and well being of others, such as partners or children.

During a Disaster:

The impact of a disaster varies according to the type of disaster and the amount of warning that the survivors have had prior to the event. The roles of each variable affecting the survivors will predicate the emotional response. For example, threat, exposure, loss and dislocation will be determinants of a survivor’s patterns of adjustment. A person’s actions are geared to protection of the self and others, especially children, family members and those who are weak and helpless.

Here comes the effects of “altruism”, which is frequent and people will place their lives at risk to help others. Some people experience “shock”, especially when the disaster is unexpected, which adds their feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. Another common response is to be disorganized or stunned and people may not be able to respond appropriately to protect themselves and their families. Such disorganized behavior may extend in the post-disaster phase and so one may find people wandering aimlessly in the devastation. This reaction may reflect distortions in responses to severe disaster stressors and may indicate a level of dissociation. After a disaster, any people face complications.

The most important among them are:

a) Emotional reactions in the form of somatic complaints such as sleep disturbance

b) Indigestion

c) Fatigue

d) Social effects

e) Relationship or work difficulties

So, all these state the importance of psychological care in the case of disaster management. Psychological care is always required in such types of incidents. As (Garmezy, 1983) states that the ‘role of psychological care is to foster individual and community resilience. Individual resilience applies to the capacity to recover from a negative experience with renewed enthusiasm and an increased capacity to respond positively to a subsequent stressful event. The communities should be well trained so that a resilient community takes action to enhance the personal and collective capacity of its citizens and institutions to respond to, and influence the course of social and economic change.

Some factors which can help in positive outcomes are:

a) Recognizing and reinforcing people’s strengths

b) Providing clear and accurate information and education

c) Reinforcing supportive networks

d) Supporting and developing community strengths and process

Apart from these the Psychological Team should be able to give:

• Give practical assistance, information and emotional support.

• Respect traditional beliefs and customs and accommodate the family’s needs as far as possible.

• Provide counseling for the woman/family and allow for reflection on the event.

• Explain the problem to help reduce anxiety and guilt. Many women/families blame themselves for what has happened.

• Listen and express understanding and acceptance of the woman’s feelings. Nonverbal communication may speak louder than words: a squeeze of the hand or a look of concern can say an enormous amount.

• Repeat information several times and give written information, if possible. People experiencing an emergency will not remember much of what is said to them.

• Health care providers may feel anger, guilt, sorrow, pain and frustration in the face of obstetric emergencies that may lead them to avoid the woman/family. Showing emotion is not a weakness.

• Remember to care for staff who themselves may experience guilt, grief, confusion and other emotions.

If these issues are given importance, we can move one step ahead in creation of a Safer, Stronger, Greener and a Disaster Free World for us as well as for our future generations.

Thanks and Regards,

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTIONS WITH TECHNOLOGY

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Parking Gets A Lift’ was a heading from a morning newspaper. This is a technology, which all upper middle class people loves to cherish. Space is very limited. Hence, we are going for things which are more and more smaller in technology. Something, which fits our pocket and in miniature form is always a welcome. The important significance lies in the fact that if it is in a smaller form, it reduces the release of Green House Gases and thus we make a difference in our Climatic System too. Lets now have a look into the newly made Parking Lot; Something, which do not need any human interference. A 5 level underground parking, with a capacity to park over 1500 cars at a time.

Now imagine this technology solutions :- Total Capacity is 1518 cars, Number of cars handled at a time is 21, Area is 10,000 sqm, Number of levels is 5 and the total cost is almost 30 million dollars. Well, imagine the space we save with this technology!Constructive thinking make a better climate.

People can use the space for tree plantation. Hence, a city which has very less greeneries will have a choice to include afforestation initiatives in their Urban Planning Project and thus improve. The next thing, which goes into effect is creating awareness about Green Energy. Well, an energy, which is renewable and can be utilized again and again. Just a simple definition of physics that energy cannot be destroyed or created but transforms form one form to other. Hence, the onus goes to the Research Universities to find out as to how to use light energy to electrical and then to light and back to electrical. Just an example, Most of us must have seen a Solar Lantern. The basic energy is Sun Light. In general, a Solar Lantern can light upto 3 hours for 3W. Well, now imagine this situation, can this 3W light that is emitted can be transformed again back to electrical energy, by some instrument, so that it can be used for some other work. Green Technologies can make wonders. It is clean and doesn’t emit harmful substances.Special awareness is required for the use of Green Technologies. Each one of us has to play a small part.

Its though our joint effort, we can make a difference:

a) Make your mind to grow up in environment of Clean and Green Energy.

b) Report and request your elected Representatives to give more importance in making Green Buildings

c) Change most of your power to Solar, Wind or Geothermal energies.

d) Write and Voice your concerns. Talk to Media about your wish to give importance to Clean Energies.We have to remember just one fact that if we don’t take any interest in ‘Green Technologies’, then others will not follow. Its just when there is a demand; Industries will build it with more interest and thus we move forward with it.

The demand itself will change the marketing policies and hence the word ‘Green’ will be linked to each and every small items, which will later make a more sustainable Climate.This is an opportunity for us to make a difference into the life of our future generations.It is not only uncertainty about the underlying climate science that should be of concern to us. Ultimately we are interested in the impact of climate change on human societies, and this involves knowing not only how the climate may alter but also how changes in the climate regime translate into impacts that matter for humans. How do climate changes translate into changes in agricultural production, into changes in the ranges of disease vectors, into changes in patterns of tourist travel, even into feelings of well-being directly associated with the state of the climate? So the main concern here about the outcome of a process is of two stages:Change in the climate regime:Translation of Climate Change into changes in things that matter directly to us. Even if we knew exactly what the climate would be in 2050, we still would face major economic uncertainties because we currently do not know how altered climate states map into human welfare. Right now, we are prognosticating the dangers, but its not late, when it will be a reality.In assessing the economics of climate change there are therefore at least two sources of uncertainty; what the climate will be, and what any given changed climate will mean in economic terms.

In fact there is a third stage, uncertainty about the policies that we will choose as humans to control emissions over the coming decades.Responding to Climate Change:A good sustainable policy is a very good answer to Climate Change. A good Environment means a better climate and in turns a sustainable world. Sustainable development means that the needs of the present generations should be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is stated in many reports that adaptability is one of the best known options to such situations. Well, its a good option, but then its losing attitude to an incident.The best way towards having a sustainable climate is reducing the gap between humans and its surroundings. It requires collaboration of natural and social scientists, planners and managers and the local people. It should be an interdisciplinary programme of research and training which emphasizes an ecological approach to the study of interrelationship between humans and their environment. The general objective of the programme is to develop the basis within the natural and social sciences for the rational use and conservation of the resources of the biosphere and for the improvement of global relationships between human and their environment to predict the consequences of todays actions on tomorrows World and thereby to increase humans ability to manage efficiently the natural resources of the biosphere and make a Sustainable Climate.Another important factor for climate change is to do research on various issues. For example: Biologists at the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center will do some leaf peeping of their own to find out; studying how temperature affects the development of autumn colors and whether the warming climate could mute them, prolong the foliage viewing season or delay it. Using a three-year, $45,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, they’re planning to measure the color pigments in leaves exposed to varying temperatures in hopes of finding a pattern.

NASA carried out a study on the burning of fossil fuels — notably coal, oil, and gas — which has accounted for about 80 percent of the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide since the pre-industrial era. Now, NASA researchers have identified feasible emission scenarios that could keep carbon dioxide below levels that some scientists have called dangerous for climate. The research, published Aug. 5 in the American Geophysical Union’s Global Biogeochemical Cycles, shows that the rise in carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels can be kept below harmful levels as long as emissions from coal are phased out globally within the next few decades.So, what would Climate Change mean for the business community?Global warming will change the economic climate. For example, global warming changes rainfall patterns, which will impact agricultural practices and production.To mitigate global warming will call for nontraditional energy sources. Coastal states dependent on agriculture or traditional energy production for their economic base have vested economic interest in the mitigation of global warming and in solutions to energy needs that move beyond traditional fossil fuel sources because of their link to climate change. Realizing that rising sea levels would have a profound impact on local coastlines, many States are taking GHG reduction plan to mitigate global warming, based primarily on voluntary covenants from businesses, schools, churches, and the states largest utility company.National Climate Service:Each Country may have a national climate service — an interagency charged with understanding climate dynamics, forecasts and impacts; with tie up with Research Universities. This can help to get new ideas and diversify our efforts towards a better Climate. Unlike the National Weather Service, which forecasts weather up to a week in advance and sometimes two weeks in advance, a national climate service ideally would help with forecasts of climate fluctuations that might be expected anywhere from three months to a year.

Forecasts from a national climate service could give months of advance warnings to water and power managers, private industries and those charged with human safety when the probabilities for such things as flooding and drought appear to be changing from what is typical. In addition, scenarios of climate change could be projected for specific regions up to one hundred years out. Such a service would be concerned both with "climate variability," the natural seasonal to decades-long variations in climate, and the effects of climate change, the changes brought about by increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, largely because of human activities.

So, for a better climate and a Safer World, these projects can be taken up:

a) Giving importance and funding for renewable sources of energy like wind, water, geothermal and bio-energy for meeting the daily usage.

b) Funding research for

I) More Fuel efficient vehicles;

ii) Bio-fuels

iii)Higher efficiency aircrafts

iv) Other good transport planning and policies

c) Spreading awareness and stressing on:

I) Efficient use of lighting

ii) More efficient electrical appliances and heating and cooling

iii) Use of solar energy to meet the demand

iv) Proper use of electricity and as the saying goes;energy should not be wasted.

The most important thing that could be done is creation of intelligent meters that will provide feedback and control

d) Industries:

I) Industry employees should be trained towards usage of cleaner technology

ii)Recycling of the harmful wastes

iii) Saving of power

iv) Control of carbon-dioxide gas emissions

v) Usage of more power efficient machines

vi) Creating a green belt around the industry and its proper maintenance.

e) Agriculture:

I) Transfer of good equipments for the farmers in the poorest and the poorest areas for effective land management. Also methods to give good yields.

ii) Techniques and equipments so that Methane emission can be lessened (This can be done by increasing the financial incentives and regulations for improved land management, maintaining soil carbon content, efficient use of fertilizers and irrigation.)

f) Forestry:

I) Initiatives for proper and good forest management. Reduced deforestation. Making mandatory the slogan. “A HUMAN, A TREE”, so that all humans can involve themselves. Project to initiate on the fact that one human in the World should plant one tree/plant.

ii) Research into increasing the biodiversity. Efforts should be made for funds transfer towards projects like this.

iii) Improved Remote Sensing Technologies along with GIS (Geographic Information Systems) for analysis of vegetation/soil carbon sequestration potential and mapping land use change.

iv) Planting Mangroves in coastal areas towards Natural Disaster Management

g) Waste:

I) Recycling of the waste products and also organic composting. This will help to create manure from the wastes.

ii) Research on waste incineration

h) Disaster Risk Reduction:

I) Creating policies and planning for DRR activities towards mitigation strategies for disaster prone areas.

ii) Usage of improved technologies for vulnerability and hazard mapping.

iii) Improved Environmental Planning towards good mitigation strategies.

Also, if the members of the public are given CARBON Credit Cards stating how much Green House Gas they are saving and some benefits to those who saves most will produce new enthusiasm amongst the members of the public and also would spread awareness.

Writer:

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

INDIAN FOREST RIGHTS BILL:- IS THE NEW BILL A DISASTER FOR FORESTS OR TRIBES?

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Let me first state about the Forest Rights Bill and the names of the members who helped in passing it in the Indian Parliament. The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2006, as passed by Lok Sabha, India.
Shri P.R.Kyndiah, Minister of Tribal Affairs, moved motion for the consideration of the Bill.

The following hon’ble members took part in the discussion:-
1. Shri Kanjibhai Patel 2. Shri Nabam Rebia 3. Shri Mahendra Mohan 4. Shrimati Brinda Karat
5. Dr. Radhakant Nayak 6. Shri Abani Roy 7. Dr. Barun Mukherjee 8. Shri Syed Azeez Pasha 9. Shri B.S Gnanadesikan 10. Sri Mangani Lal Mandal 12. Shri Bhagirathi Majhi

The bill was passed in the Indian Parliament with some amendments to the Recommendations of the JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee)

Let us first have a look into the Forest Act of 1980 with amendments on 1988:
(A Portion of the act is given below: If there is any mistake, please do let us know)

1. Short title, extent and commencement:
1. The act may be called the Forest(Conservation) Act, 1980.
2. It extends to the whole of India except the states of Jammu and Kashmir.
3. It shall be deemed to have come into force on the 25th of October, 1980.
Restriction on the dereservation of forests or use of forest land for non forest purpose
Nothwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force in a State, no State government or other authority shall make, except with the prior approval of the Central Government, any order directing –
(1) that any reserve forest (within the meaning of the expression “reserve forest” in any law for the time being in force in that state) or any portion thereof, shall cease to be reserved;
(2) that any forest land or any portion thereof may be used for any non-forest purpose.
(3) that any forest land or any portion thereof may be assigned by way of lease or otherwise to any private person or any authority, corporation, agency or any other organization not owned, managed or controlled by the Government.
(4) that any forest land or any portion thereof may be cleared of trees which have grown naturally in that land or portion, for the purpose of using it for reafforestation.

Explanation – For the purpose of this section, “non-forest purpose” means the breaking up or clearing of any forest land or portion thereof for –
(a) cultivation of tea, coffee, spices, rubber, palms, oil bearing plants, horticulture crops or medicinal plants;
(b) any purpose other than reafforestation;

but doesnot include any work relating or ancillary to conservation, development and management of forests and wildlife, namely the establishment of check posts, fire lines, wireless communictions and construction of fencing, bridges and culverts, dams, water holes and trench marks, boundary marks, pipe lines or other like purposes.

Analysis of the effect of the recent bill passed:

Some has the view that the tribes, consisting about 8.4% of the population, have been denied access to benefits of land and forest by both mideaval and moderate states, which encouraged landlords to settle on fertile agricultural tracts. It was also thought that this was done to gain complete monopoly over the forests. But at a later stage there were lots of protests by the forest dwellers over access to forest products for their living. All these pressures forced the Indian ruling class to set up welfare mechanisms for the tribal people. It was then stressed by India to set up mechanisms that would democratise community institutions and allow tribal people to shape their own destines thorugh the creation of fifth and sixth schedules on the Indian Constitution. It was due to large scale displacement faced due to large projects initiated by the State showed that, the poorest tribal people were victims rather than subjects of mainstream economic development. It was during that time that organizations of neo-Gandhian and radical environmental groups persuaded a movement against the displacement of the tribal people. These movements, which were a series of local-area-level struggles for land and forest access, argued for an alternative form of forest management, whose main principle would be customary access and community control.

This naturally meant that the state would need to loosen its hold over forests and create space for informal systems of management, which earned the name ‘community forestry’.

Now, this was quite unacceptable as these may lead to some vested interests in some forest products and can lead to large scale deforestation. The challange became more stiffer as on one side the state have to ensure access to land and forest resources for providing livelihood security and two; to democratise forest management in a manner that counters corporate-led development.

It was during that time the Forest Rights Bill was introduced in the Indian Parliament.

Now the min problem was; many tribal people who couldnot prove that they were living in forests before October 25, 1908 , had been termed as “encroachers”, (Forest Conservation Act, 1980). This led the state to notice an eviction order to these people in May, 2002. This led to an widespread agitation not only among the tribals but also among some representatives of the people. It was that time that the Left parties along with the tribals pressurized the Government to expand the scale and scope of the Bill. It was then the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) was set up to look into the Bill.

JPC recommendations in short:

1. Cut-off date for the settlement of rights should be extended from October 25th, 1980 to December 13, 2005, the date on which the Bill was first tabled in the Parliament.
2. Inclusion of non-scheduled Tribe “traditional forest dwellers” within its ambit as long as they have lived in the forest for three generations.
3. Attempt to introduce an independent and participatory scientific process, by which ‘critical wildlife areas” would be identified and relocated from them, if found necessary on mutually acceptable terms.
4. It did include paragraphs to strengthen the democratic process and the rights of the pople by making the gram sabha the “final authority” in the settlement of local rights.
5. New provisions to recognize the rights of displaced and rehabilitated people.
6. JPC recommended the inclusion of the right of multiple land use for people doing shifting culitivation, the recognition of the rights of communities to conserve their forests , and the removal of the land ceiling 2.5 hectares for land rights.
7. It recommended that the people’s right to development be recognized through this proposed act.

Some limitations are : It didnot take into account issues relating to the ecological health of the resource and fringe area development.

But the Government and the Environmentalists also have their own concern; that is any legislation on forest rights, therefore needs also to have clear provisions for the protections of forests and their biodiversity. So, the Government changed some portion of the recommendations of the bill and passed it in the Indian Parliament.

The most intense battles between wildfires and Adivasi rights advocates have been over the Bills provision relating to protected areas (PAs). It is undeniable that such areas have been the single most important step towards halting the rapid decimation of India’s Wildlife.

Without them many of our Species would be History. Perhaps many have remembered the stories of the Indian Rhinocerous and the Asiatic lion, among others.

On the other hand, it is also true that many of the protected areas are inhabited by communities; some living before even the protected areas were notified! Now, the only solution is to make them also participate for conservation and also recognise their basic rights to survival. Some other provisions that could enhance conservation considerably have largely been overlooked. Communities will have now have the right to “protect, regenerate, or conserve or manage any community forest resource which they have been traditionally protecting or conserving for sustainable use.”

But here lies the problems. Some NGO’s like Kalpavriksh, Vasundhara etc have shown that there are thousands of community-conserved areas (CCAs) in India, 10,000 community forests in Orissa, forests protected under tribal self-rule in Central India, catchment forests conserved in Rajasthan, Nagaland and Mizoram, and so on, all together covering lakhs of hectares. Most of these are Government forests, with hardly any Government staffs present. Most of them doesnot have legal backing and are open to DAMAGE AND DESTRUCTION BY OUTSIDERS. Many vested interests may lead to pushing outsiders into the forest premises and thus can demand the facilities of the Forest. It can lead to destruction of the sanctity, quiteness and beauty of the forest as well as loss of biodiversity. India has lost much forests and the world needs forests to save ourselves. If we don’t; our survival will be at stake. Forest are also the home to hundreds to species and also are carbon sinks. There are also lots of usefulness of forests which are known to everyone. Thats the reason the Government’s concern need to be given importance.

So, according to me; the only solution is; we need a lot of awareness programs about forestry and also should aware the original dwellers the importance of forests. Its only together we can save forests and also its tribes and thus a stop another disaster happening…

Writer:

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

BIRD FLU AND THE DEADLY H5N1 STRAIN

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility

 

Bird Flu created a terror in the whole world. Not only that, the strain killed many people. All over the world, a mutated form of virus made world news. There were also no antibiotics or vaccines to cope with the menance, thats the reason, I though of giving you the details about the Avian Flu and also about its origin and it’s history. This will definitly help you to gain knowledge about the deadly virus.

Bird Flu is a subtype of the Influenza A virus. Its Influenza A Virus subtype H5N1, also known as A(H5N1) or H5N1. It is endemic in many bird populations, especuially in South East Asia. One strain of HPAI A (H5N1) spread globally after first appearing in Asia.
Before going into the details; let us define a virus. A virus is an microscopic particle that can infect the cells of a biological organisms. Viruses can only replicate themselves by infecting a host cell and therefore can not reproduce on their own. At the most basic level, viruses consist of genetic material contained within a protective protein coat called a capsid. They infect a wide variety of organisms; both eukaryotes(animals, yeasts, fungi and plants) and prokaryotes (Bacteria). Viruses are so small that it do infect the bacteria’s too and its during that time; we call it Bacteriophage; often shortage to phage. Many microbiologist through out the world; consider the viruses as non-living entities; as they donot generally accepted definition of LIFE. They lack self-reproduction outside a host cell, bu unlike parasites, viruses are generally not considered to be true living organisms.
Viruses are made of proteins; One such protein is HEMAGGLUTININ and the other is NEURAMINIDASE. H5 stands for the fifth of several known types of the protein Hemagglutinin. N1 stands for the first of several known types of the protein Neuraminidase. ‘A’ stands for the species of Infuenza (A,B or C). Together they make the term H5N1 strain. Asian lineage HPAI A(H5N1) is divided into antigenic clades. “Clade 1” includes human and bird isolates from Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia and bird isolates from Laos and Malaysia. “Clade 2” viruses were first identified in bird isolates from China, Indonesia, Japan and South Korea before spreading wetsward to the Middle East, Europe and Africa. The “Clade 2” viruses have been primarily responsible for the hman H5N1 infections that have occurred during late 2005 and 2006, according to WHO. Genetic analysis has identified six subclades of clade 2, three of which have a distinct geographic distribution and have been implicated in human infections.
The distribution map is given below:
1. Subclade 1, Indonesia
2. Subclade 2, Middle East, Europe and Africa
3. Subclade 3, China

Now lets discuss about the term HPAI A(H5N1); Just like other Bird Flu viruses; H5N1 strains are called “highly pathogenic” (HP) and “low-pathogenic” (LP). Avian Influenza viruses that cause HPAI are highly virulent and mortality rates in infected flocks often approach 100%. LPAI viruses have negligible virulence, but these viruses can serve as progenitors to HPAI. The current strain of H5N1 responsible for the deaths of birds across the world is an HPAI strain; all other current strains of H5N1, including a North America strain that causes no diseases at all in any species, are LAPI strain. All HPAI strains identified to date have involved H5 and H7 subtypes. In general a highly pathogenic avian virus is not highly pathogenic to either humans or non-poultry birds.
Influenza A viruses are significant for their potential for diseases and deaths in humans and other animals. H5N1 is easily transmissible between birds facilitating a potential. While H5N1 undergoes specific mutations and reassorting creating variations which can infect species not previously known to carry the virus, not all of these variant forms can infect humans. H5N1 as an avain virus preferentially binds to a type of galactose receptors that populate the avain respiratory tract from the nose to the lungs and are virtually absent in humans, occuring only in and around the alveoli, structures deep in the lungs where oxygen is passed to the blood. As a result of which the virus can not be expelled by coughing and sneezng, the usual route of transmission. H5N1 is mainly spread by domestic and poultry, but through the movements of infected birds and poultry products and through the use of infected poultry manures as fertilizer or feed. Humans with H5N1 have typiclly caught it from chickens, which were in turn infected by other poultry or waterfowl. Migrating waterfowl, geese and sawns etc carry H5N1, often without becoming sick. Many species of birds and mammals can be infected with HPAI A (H5N1), but the role of animal;s other than poltry and waterfowl as disease – spreading hosts is unknown.
H5N1 strain has the ability to mutate and the mutated form becomes; extremely dangerous. Each specific known genetic variation is traceable to a virus isolate of a specific case of infection. THROUGH ANTIGENIC DRIFT, H5N1 has mutated into dozens of highly pathogenic varieties divided into genetic clades which are known from specific isolates, but all currently belonging to genotype Z of avian influenza virus H5N1, now the dominant genotype.
Infected birds transmit H5N1 through their saliva, nasal secretions, faeces and blood. Other animals may become infected with the virus through direct contact with these bodily fluids or through contact with surfaces contanminated with them. H5N1 remain infectitious after over 30 days at 0 degree centigrade (32 Fahrenheit; over one month at freezing temperature) or 6 days at 37 degree (98 Fahrenheit; one week at human body temperature) so at ordinary temperatures it lasts in the environment for weeks.
It was in October 2004, researchers discovered that H5N1 is far more dangerous than was previously believed. WaterFowl were revealed to be directly spreading the highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 to chickens, crows, pigeons and other birds and the virus was increasing its ability to infect mamamals as well.
In general, humans who catch a humanized Infuenza A Virus (a human flu virus of type A) usually have symptoms that include Fever, Cough, Sore throat, muscle aches, conjunctivities and in severe cases, severe breathing problems and pneumonia that may be fatal. The severity of the infection depends to a large part on the state of the infected person and whether the particular starin has been exposed to the strain before.
Researches are on the way to make a effective vaccines for stopping this “BIOLOGICAL DISASTER” Hope it is made soon and we can stop another person getting affected by it; and lets join hands to make a better, safer, stonger and a disaster free world for all of us.

Writer:

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

NATURAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY (CSR)

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility

Dictionary meaning of ‘Philanthropy’ is ‘the effort or inclination to increase the well-being of humankind, as by charitable aid or donations.’ There is a continuous debate among the organizations regarding this factor. It’s a debate between critics and investors. The former states that Corporate Philanthropy is about applying pressure to maximize the short term profits, which the later disagrees. Investor’s states that corporate can use their charitable efforts to improve the competitive context – the quality of the business environment in the locations where they operate. Its not just business environment, but social environment too gets an uplift. Philanthropic investment’s has the power to improve education and local quality of life; which will in many ways benefit the company. It has been observed that ‘charitable giving’ raises about one-third as fast as the stock market and according to Giving USA, American philanthropy reach a record high in 2007, with donations totaling $314-billion. Giving has since dropped by 2% to $308 billion in 2008. It is estimated total charitable contributions will total $21.2 to $55.4 trillion between 1998- 2052. By the year 2055, some $41 trillion will change hands as Americans pass on their accumulated assets to the next generation. As of fiscal year the top U.S Grant Making Foundations are: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Ford Foundation, J. Paul Getty Trust, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K Kellogg Foundation and the list go on. It was Mahatma Gandhi, who once said that, “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread”.

It is seen that majority of corporate contribution programs are diffuse and unfocused. Most consist of numerous small cash donations given to aid local civic causes or they provide general operating support to universities and national charities in the hope of generating goodwill among employees, customers and the local community. These types of programs clearly lack focus. These are works, what was done some hundred of years ago and still continuing. A number of companies have attempted to make their giving, more strategic. But what currently passes for strategic philanthropy has neither been really strategic, nor particularly effective. Rather than being tied to social or business objectives – the contributions often reflect the personal beliefs. These need to change and the use of strategic responsibility should be used. In turn, we can talk about the term of ‘Creative Capitalism’. In general the corporate can use their charitable efforts in improving their competitive context – the quality of their business environment and in the location or locations where they operate.

Using this strategy or method, it helps to increase or enhance the context which brings social and economic goals into alignment and improves the company’s long term business prospects. In addition; addressing context enables a company not only to give money but also to leverage its capabilities and relationships in support of charitable causes.

Today many companies are depending on local capacities. They mostly depend on brining talents from outside and collaborate with local Non-Governmental Organizations and Institutions, Universities to conduct research and development.

A company’s competitive context consists of four interrelated elements of the local business environment that shape potential productivity. They are:

a) Factor conditions

b) Available inputs of production

c) Demand productions

d) The context for strategy and rivalry and related and supporting industries

Clusters arise through the combined influence of all the four elements of context. They are often prominent features of a region’s economic landscape. Corporate responsibility clusters come in different shapes, sizes and types with different types of organization leading their development. Common, however, are their underlying effects on business performance by: expanding business ability to learn from diverse, rich sources; grow competencies to translate these learning into improved business performance; gain support from a growing network of service providers that enable companies to more effectively manage their relationships and reputation; and produce benefits from an approach to public policy that moulds markets in ways that reward responsible practices.

Now the clusters are of four types:

a) Challenge Clusters

b) Market-making Clusters

c) Partnership Clusters

d) Statutory Clusters

Challenge Clusters tend to be started or initiated by civil society players. Market making Clusters are often lead by one or more companies. They involve remolding competitive conditions from the inside and outside, which can be done by innovating more and more sustainable products. Partnership clusters means involving more formal, multisectoral partnerships, which can support competitive advantage. Statutory clusters involve public policies focused on CSR standards and practices that support competitive advantage.

These four types of clusters are neither static nor distinct phenomena. They really take one form for prolonged periods of time and often combine several or all these forms at different stages in their development. Corporate Responsibility Cluster potential is not evenly distributed in all sectors, geography or time. Labour intensive sectors like textiles and footwear may see sector wise clusters. However, their current potential is reliant on company’s sense of commercial importance of the ‘ethnic concerns’

Clusters are driven by two dominant factors.

• The ‘legitimacy’ effect: clustering is most likely to arise where the potential is greatest for making social and environmental aspects of the value-chain of tangible concern to stakeholders who count.

• The ‘productivity’ effect: clustering is most likely to arise where the potential is greatest for translating social and environmental enhancements in the value chain into labour and resource efficiency, and productivity gains.

The legitimacy effects, for example, depend to a large extent on the vibrancy of civil society organizations in raising public attention and responsiveness. At any point in time this may be directed at individual companies or sectors. But over time, such vibrancy extends beyond, and indeed is enhanced by the very success of these individual initiatives.

If one carefully analyzes the situation, then it is found that a company can identify the areas of overlap between social and economic value that will most enhance its own and the cluster of competitiveness.

Factor conditions and its utility:

The type of philanthropy depends on the local conditions or factors. High level of productivity depends on the presence of trained workers, high quality scientific and technological institutions, adequate physical infrastructure, transparent and efficient administrative processes (such as company requirements and available resources). All are areas that philanthropy can influence.

Demand conditions:

Demand conditions in a nation or region include the size of the local market, the appropriateness of product standards and the sophistication of the local customers. Now, let’s take an example; an area where the health sector is using sophisticated technologies, there medical device companies are sure to increase. Thus in a Cluster, the company which had good CSR and had been able to use their skills for improving the health sector is not only increasing profitability but also is able to influence the CSR cluster potential.

Context for Strategy and Rivalry:

The rules, incentives and norms governing competition in a nation or region have a fundamental influence on productivity. The policies that encourage investment protect intellectual property, open local markets to trade, break up or prevent the formation of cartels and monopolies. Philanthropy is the reason for strong influence on creating a more productive and transparent environment for competition.

Related Industries:

Whenever, there are industries, which support the main industry, the productivity increases. These are due to the fact that proximity enhances responsiveness, exchange of information and innovation and thus reduces carrying costs and transportation costs.

Now, Philanthropy can foster the development of clusters and thus in turn strengthen the Industries.

Hence, while making policies for Corporate Social Responsibility, one need to understand the link between philanthropy and competitive context which will help the company to identify where they should focus their corporate giving. The ways to find out the best organizations as per the conditions is already discussed above. Here it is better to mention that corporate giving means giving money to other organizations that actually help to deliver the social and environmental benefits. Hence, it is very clear that the impact or the success of the project/program lies in the effectiveness of the recipient. Hence extensive research should be carried out before selecting those recipients that will achieve the Greatest Social Impact.

It’s only then we can together create a more Developed World for us as well for our future generations.

Writer:

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

CLIMATE CHANGE AND SOLUTIONS

climatechange9

‘Parking Gets A Lift’ was a heading from a morning newspaper. This is a technology, which all upper middle class people loves to cherish. Space is very limited. Hence, we are going for things which are more and more smaller in technology. Something, which fits our pocket and in miniature form is always a welcome. The important significance lies in the fact that if it is in a smaller form, it reduces the release of Green House Gases and thus we make a difference in our Climatic System too. Lets now have a look into the newly made Parking Lot – Something, which do not need any human interference. A 5 level underground parking, with a capacity to park over 1500 cars at a time. Now imagine this technology solutions :- Total Capacity is 1518 cars, Number of cars handled at a time is 21, Area is 10,000 sqm, Number of levels is 5 and the total cost is almost 30 million dollars. Well, imagine the space we save with
this technology!

Constructive thinking make a better climate. People can use the space for tree plantation. Hence, a city which has very less greeneries will have a choice to include afforestation initiatives in their Urban Planning Project and thus improve. The next thing, which goes into effect is creating awareness about Green Energy. Well, an energy, which is renewable and can be utilized again and again. Just a simple definition of physics that energy cannot be destroyed or created but transforms form one form to other. Hence, the onus goes to the Research Universities to find out as to how to use light energy to electrical and then to light and back to electrical. Just an example, Most of us must have seen a Solar Lantern. The basic energy is Sun Light. In general, a Solar Lantern can light upto 3 hours for 3W. Well, now imagine this situation, can this 3W light that is emitted can be transformed again back to electrical energy, by some instrument, so that it can be used for some other work. Green Technologies can make wonders. It is clean and doesn’t emit harmful substances.

Special awareness is required for the use of Green Technologies. Each one of us has to play a small part. Its though our joint effort, we can make a difference.

a) Make your mind to grow up in environment of Clean and Green Energy.
b) Report and request your elected Representatives to give more importance in making Green Buildings
c) Change most of your power to Solar, Wind or Geothermal energies.
d) Write and Voice your concerns. Talk to Media about your wish to give importance to Clean
Energies.

We have to remember just one fact that if we don’t take any interest in ‘Green Technologies’, then others will not follow. Its just when there is a demand; Industries will build it with more interest and thus we move forward with it. The demand itself will change the marketing policies and hence the word ‘Green’ will be linked to each and every small items, which will later make a more sustainable Climate.

This is an opportunity for us to make a difference into the life of our future generations.

It is not only uncertainty about the underlying climate science that should be of concern to us. Ultimately we are interested in the impact of climate change on human societies, and this involves knowing not only how the climate may alter but also how changes in the climate regime translate into impacts that matter for humans. How do climate changes translate into changes in agricultural production, into changes in the ranges of disease vectors, into changes in patterns of tourist travel, even into feelings of well-being directly associated with the state of the climate? So the main concern here about the outcome of a process is of two stages:
Change in the climate regime:

Translation of Climate Change into changes in things that matter directly to us. Even if we knew exactly what the climate would be in 2050, we still would face major economic uncertainties because we currently do not know how altered climate states map into human welfare. Right now, we are prognosticating the dangers, but it’s not late, when it will be a reality.

In assessing the economics of climate change there are therefore at least two sources of uncertainty – what the climate will be, and what any given changed climate will mean in economic terms. In fact there is a third stage, uncertainty about the policies that we will choose as humans to control emissions over the coming decades.

Responding to Climate Change:
A good sustainable policy is a very good answer to Climate Change. A good Environment means a better climate and in turns a sustainable world. Sustainable development means that the needs of the present generations should be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is stated in many reports that adaptability is one of the best known options to such situations. Well, it’s a good option, but then it’s losing attitude to an incident.

The best way towards having a sustainable climate is reducing the gap between humans and its surroundings. It requires collaboration of natural and social scientists, planners and managers and the local people. It should be an interdisciplinary programme of research and training which emphasizes an ecological approach to the study of interrelationship between humans and their environment. The general objective of the programme is to develop the
basis within the natural and social sciences for the rational use and conservation of the resources of the biosphere and for the improvement of global relationships between human and their environment to predict the consequences of today’s actions on tomorrow’s World and thereby to increase human’s ability to manage efficiently the natural resources of the biosphere and make a Sustainable Climate.

Another important factor for climate change is to do research on various issues. For example: Biologists at the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center will do some leaf peeping of their own to find out — studying how temperature affects the development of autumn colors and whether the warming climate could mute them, prolong the foliage viewing season or delay it. Using a three-year, $45,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, they’re planning to measure the color pigments in leaves exposed to varying temperatures in hopes of finding a pattern. NASA carried out a study on the burning of fossil fuels — notably coal, oil, and gas — which has accounted for about 80 percent of the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide since the pre-industrial era. Now, NASA researchers have
identified feasible emission scenarios that could keep carbon dioxide below levels that some scientists have called dangerous for climate. The research, published Aug. 5 in the American Geophysical Union’s Global Biogeochemical Cycles, shows that the rise in carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels can be kept below harmful levels as long as emissions from coal are phased out globally within the next few decades.

So, what would Climate Change mean for the business community?

Global warming will change the economic climate. For example, global warming changes rainfall patterns, which will impact agricultural practices and production. To mitigate global warming will call for nontraditional energy sources. Coastal states dependent on agriculture or traditional energy production for their economic base have vested economic interest in the mitigation of global warming and in solutions to energy needs that move beyond traditional fossil fuel sources because of their link to climate change. Realizing that rising sea levels would have a profound impact on local coastlines, many States are taking GHG reduction plan to mitigate global warming, based primarily on voluntary covenants from businesses, schools, churches, and the state’s largest utility company.

National Climate Service:

Each Country may have a national climate service — an interagency charged with understanding climate dynamics, forecasts and impacts – with tie up with Research Universities. This can help to get new ideas and diversify our efforts towards a better Climate. Unlike the National Weather Service, which forecasts weather up to a week in advance and
sometimes two weeks in advance, a national climate service ideally would help with forecasts of climate fluctuations that might be expected anywhere from three months to a year. Forecasts from a national climate service could give months of advance warnings to water and power managers, private industries and those charged with human safety when the probabilities for such things as flooding and drought appear to be changing from what is typical. In addition, scenarios of climate change could be projected for specific regions up to one hundred years out. Such a service would be concerned both with “climate variability,” the natural seasonal to decades-long variations in climate, and the effects of climate change, the changes brought about by increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,
largely because of human activities.

So, for a better climate and a Safer World, these projects can be taken up:

a) Giving importance and funding for renewable sources of energy like wind, water, geothermal and bio-energy for meeting the daily usage.

b) Funding research for:
I) More Fuel efficient vehicles;
ii) Bio-fuels
iii)Higher efficiency aircrafts
iv) Other good transport planning and policies
c) Spreading awareness and stressing on:
I) Efficient use of lighting
ii) More efficient electrical appliances and heating and cooling
iii) Use of solar energy to meet the demand
iv) Proper use of electricity and as the saying goes ‘energy should not be wasted’.
(The most important thing that could be done is creation of intelligent meters that will provide feedback and control)

d) Industries:

I) Industry employees should be trained towards usage of cleaner technology
ii)Recycling of the harmful wastes
iii) Saving of power
iv) Control of carbon-dioxide gas emissions
v) Usage of more power efficient machines
vi) Creating a green belt around the industry and its proper maintenance.

e) Agriculture:

I) Transfer of good equipments for the farmers in the poorest and the poorest areas for
effective land management. Also methods to give good yields.
ii) Techniques and equipments so that Methane emission can be lessened
(This can be done by increasing the financial incentives and regulations for improved land
management, maintaining soil carbon content, efficient use of fertilizers and irrigation.)

f) Forestry:

I) Initiatives for proper and good forest management. Reduced deforestation. Making mandatory the slogan’ “A HUMAN, A TREE”, so that all humans can involve themselves. Project to initiate on the fact that one human in the World should plant one tree/plant.
ii) Research into increasing the biodiversity. Efforts should be made for funds transfer
towards projects like this.
iii) Improved Remote Sensing Technologies along with GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
for analysis of vegetation/soil carbon sequestration potential and mapping land use change.
iv)  Planting Mangroves in coastal areas towards Natural Disaster Management

g) Waste:

I) Recycling of the waste products and also organic composting. This will help to create
manure from the wastes.
ii) Research on waste incineration

h)  Disaster Risk Reduction:

I) Creating policies and planning for DRR activities towards mitigation strategies for disaster
prone areas.
ii)  Usage of improved technologies for vulnerability and hazard mapping.
iii) Improved Environmental Planning towards good mitigation strategies.
Also, if the members of the public are given CARBON Credit Cards stating how much Green
House Gas they are saving and some benefits to those who saves most will produce new
enthusiasm amongst the members of the public and also would spread awareness.

—- Writer:

Mr. Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK ON CLIMATE CHANGE (History of UNFCCC)

un91Climate Change is a burning issue these days. In October 1985, at an International meeting in Villach, Austria convened by United Nations agencies, a group of Scientists decided it was time for the World to take action. The meeting concluded that there was a need to combat the perceived danger of global warming that would result from increasing concentrations of so-called green house gases in the atmosphere. This green house gas concentrations, particularly those of carbon dioxide  ( a product of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels ) are increasing as a direct consequence of a range of human activities.

The Villach Statement and its threat of global warming became an international forum for actions to curb emissions of green house gases to the atmosphere. Around the World a diverse range of interest groups, especially across the environment movement, co-operated to raise public awareness of the greenhouse climate change threat.  Later a series of Government and National and International conferences of invited experts were widely reported in the media and ensured a raised public recognition of the issue. So, successful was the awareness- raising campaign that within 3 years the United Nations, through its agencies UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and WMO (The World Meteorological Organization), had established an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which we know as IPCC. This organization was empowered with:

a) “Assessing the scientific informaton that is related to the various components of the climate change issue, such as emissions of major green house gases and modification of the earth’s radiation balance resulting therefrom, and that needed to enable the environmental and socioeconomic consequences of climate change to be evaluated.

b) Formulating realistic response strategies for the management of the climate change issue.

3 .  Working groups were established to address the IPCC objectives. The tasks of Working Groups I, II and III were respectively to:

i) Assess available scientific information on climate change.
ii) Assess environmental and socio-economic impacts of climate change.
iii) Formulate response strategies.

The working group did confirm the Villach conclusions and found a serious anthropogenic threat to the Global Climate. After a period of less than 18 months, in July 1990, the IPCC WG1 published their findings following an assessment of the available scientific literature. The principal findings of the report were:

i) There is a greenhouse effect because a range of gases occurring naturally in the atmosphere, such carbon dioxide, keep the earth’s surface warmer than it would otherwise be.
ii) The concentrations in the atmosphere of a range of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, are increasing because of human activities.
iii) The increasing concentrations of certain greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide will lead to global warming but neither its magnitude, timing nor regional characteristics could be determined.

Later the United Nations General Assembly took up the challenge presented by the IPCC scientific assessment and the Statement of the second World Climate conference. An Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee was convened to develop a Framework Convention on Climate Change in time for the June 1992, Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro.  The committee, open to all member countries of the United Nations, met six occasions between 1991 and May 1992 before finally a reaching agreement. At the Earth Summit, representatives of more than 150 countries signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Cimate Change (UNFCCC) that result from negotiations. More countries signed subsequently. The Convention requires countries to take actions necessary for “Stabilisation of green house gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”Despite the perceived threat posed by anthropogenic global warming, the short period available for negotiations meant that agreement could not be reached on binding mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and commitments that individual countries should make. Counter balancing the global warming threat were the immediate economic and social costs that would be experienced by many countries if they took action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The IPCC continued its work and issued its Second Assessment Report in 1995. Contemporary experiments using computer models of the climate system and various natural and anthropogenic forcing functions pointed to anthropogenic signals that could be detected in the observed Global Warming Pattern. The IPCC in its Second Assessment Report, concluded that the balance of evidence suggested that a discernible human influence on global climate could be detected.

The public interest in the anthropogenic global warming issue and the perceived need for action did not abate. More than 10,000 people, made up mostly of non-government lobby groups and representatives of the World media, converged on Kyoto, Japan in December 1997 for the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. They were there to witness Government delegates negotiate a Protocol to stem the unconstrained emission of green house gases into the atmosphere. The Protocol was expected to give teeth to the Convention.

But the rush to judgement met stiff resistance at Kyoto. The negotiations were tense and the final text of the Protocol was agreed to by a number of developed countries with reservation. Still now, Kyoto, the Protocol could not come into force.

Notwithstanding the stalled action on the political front, the scientific work has continued. The IPCC issued its Third Assessment Report in 2001, claiming that most of the warming of the previous 50 years has been caused by human activities. IPCC moved forward with its mission of the SAVE THE PLANET with its new reports. Its a great news to all that this year’s (2007) NOBLE PEACE PRIZE went to Mr. Al Gore, former US VICE-PRESIDENT and Mr. R K Pachauri, Chairman IPCC.

Thanks a lot for taking your time and reading the entire contents. Kindly give your feedback at writers  e-mail address:    mainakmajumdar@earthmessenger.org

Writer

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

DISASTER MANAGEMENT FOR CORPORATES

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Corporate Social Responsibility is a term; we need to explore more and more. The term CSR itself came in to common use in the early 1970′ s although it was seldom abbreviated. The term stakeholder means those impacted by an organization’s activities, was used to describe corporate owners beyond shareholders from around 1989. One of the majorities of CSR projects are established in Africa. A more common approach of CSR is through the giving of aid to local organizations and impoverished communities in developing countries. Some organizations do not like this approach as it does not help in building the skills of the local people, whereas community-based development generally leads to the core issue and strengthens the basic mechanism or simply train them to earn a living. That’s where the term; ‘Creative Capitalism’ works. Its works on the simple concept; fortunate helping the less Fortunate.

Capitalism has improved the lives of billions of people – something that’s easy to forget at a time of great economic uncertainty, but it has left billions more. These are the people who have great needs, but they can’t express their needs in a way which may matter to markets. Markets seem to avoid the needs as it doesn’t bring profit and hence poor always tends to remain poorer. It’s where International Non Governmental Organizations come to play and try to make a difference. But today Corporate Social Responsibility seemed to break that ‘tax free’ attitude and has come for the betterment of the World as more World Business Leaders tries to come forward with their aim to improve the smaller parts of the World where there presence is left.

Even if there are many allegations to the fact that CSR is for branding and bring a good image to the members of the public as well as to the stakeholders, but there are always positive things attached to it. CSR contributes for the betterment of atleast few marginalized sections of the Society. Well, in practical the number far exceeds our imagination. For example Mittal Steel at Kazakhstan owned and operated a Steel Plant and to make the place better Mittal Steel also renewed the tramways, the power plants, the hotels and the Stadiums and developed Social activities such as children’s camps. This was a need for the ordinary people of good infrastructure, good education. A dream of theirs filled by one Corporate through their CSR. That’s development. Today the Steel plant runs efficiently
and Mittal Steel is able to positively impact the livelihood of the community more broadly while continuing to improve the plant. This is what good CSR is all about. Helping the targeted communities and also doing Business. A win and win situation for both the community as well as the Corporate.

Now, when Mr. William (Bill) H. Gates, Chairman, Microsoft brought out the concept of ‘Creative Capitalism’; little did he think that it will bring a new wave throughout the World. Creative capitalism is not a short term goal. It’s something, which we have planned for long term management of the issues, which we are addressing now. Hence the results may not show its flavor in the present as we still believe in our notion of giving relief to the persons who are in urgent needs, but will give dividends in the future. The problem lies in the fact that we think of providing fish to the people rather teaching the ways to catch fish. We have to do the latter and that’s what Creative Capitalism is all about. Almost one billion people live on less than a dollar a day. They don’t have nutritious food. They don’t have proper house to live in. The amazing innovations that we are proud of i.e Computers, Good Food, Technologies etc generally passes by. They remain in the same place with no growth. Yet, when we talk about CSR, we talk of elevating the lives of those who are
not so much fortunate and try to show them light.

The best part of creative capitalism is; it’s not about doing more philanthropy or asking companies to be more virtuous. It’s about giving them a real incentive to apply their expertise in new ways, making it possible to earn a return while serving the people who have been left out.  As, Mr. Gates point out that in Microsoft they used corporate philanthropy to bring technology to people who can’t get it otherwise, donating more than 3$ billion in cash and software that solves problems and recently they had realized that they aren’t bringing enough of that expertise to problems in the developing world. So, Microsoft is working on projects like visual interface that will enable illiterate or semiliterate people to use a PC instantly, with minimal training. Hence they are contributing.

So, even if Creative Capitalism is becoming a major part of CSR, yet there are objections.  According to the Chittagong University Economics Professor, Muhammad Yunus, the Father of Micro-credit and a believer of ‘Social Business’ states that the word ‘Creative’ means the very essence of progress. So, capitalism has to be created too. But the question lies in the fact that; if this creativity should be put in the present restrictive format and define newer boundaries for capitalism. We simply need to look at the term in a new way.

A man who states that ‘Social Business’ Enterprise is better than ‘Creative Capitalism’

There are reasons for it. It’s always in the minds of the people that can an organization make profits and contribute to social development as well? It’s an issue as, when one thinks of Social Development, one have to san profit. Inspite of lots of emphasis on CSR, there is a dilemma as to exactly how much we can comply our own profits for the social upliftment of people. Some critics of CSR have claimed that it is distraction from the essential activities of a business. Others struggle over constitutes appropriate CSR activities, taking into account the multiple and sometimes conflicting, expectations of customers, employees, stockholders and community members.

The CSR framework comprises of Employees, Customers, Stockholders, Environment, Business Colleagues, Communities and Society. The outcomes of the Corporate Social Responsibility are Stakeholder’s Trust, Organization’s reputation/rewards, Financial Benefits, Competitive Advantages, Business Leadership and Community Growth.

Corporate Social Responsibility has become an inescapable priority for business leaders across the globe. Governments, activists and the media now hold companies accountable for the social consequences of their actions and favorable publicity is often bestowed on companies with CSR programmes. But the fact lies as to how we can do a better CSR. Is it creative Capitalism or Social Business that will be given a priority? Bill Gates observes that global economic conditions have been improving, but that not everyone was sharing in the benefits. He argued that market forces typically focus the most energy on solving the problems of the relatively well-off. For example, treating baldness in the developed world receives more attention than curing malaria in the developing world!

Talking Social businesses are designed exclusively to maximize benefits to customers, rather than maximizing profits. Social businesses serve social needs in a businesslike manner. Such a business is sustainable and makes a profit, and the investor gets back the capital he invested, over time. Profits in a social business are entirely reinvested to expand the existing social business or start new ones. A charity dollar can be used only once, but a social business investment dollar is recycled indefinitely. Current tax laws offer tax benefits to charitable organizations. New tax laws are needed that put social businesses on at least an equal footing with charities.

While CSR is giving ready made food to the people, but creative capitalism deals with things wherein we teach the target group how to cook food. This gives much more credibility to the idea of helping the needy. Slowly, if this method is adapted then it will also benefit the corporate. Basic idea being educating the masses and sharing knowledge to help the needy so that they can make their own living.

Even employment in different forms can be generated. Later the corporate can generate their brand as well and make profits. According to Bill, he observed that global economic conditions have been improving, but that not everyone was sharing in the benefits. He argued that market forces typically focus the most energy on solving the problems of the relatively well-off. For example, treating baldness in the developed world receives more attention than curing malaria in the developing world.

Now let us take the example of “Social Business”. It is the use of money, without any profits. If we take the example of Grameen Banks then the following points are to be considered.

Now let us take the decisions as to how the system works here:

a)       We shall follow and advance the four principles of Grameen Bank — Discipline, Unity, Courage and Hard work – in all walks of out lives.
b)      Prosperity we shall bring to our families.
c)      We shall not live in dilapidated houses. We shall repair our houses and work towards constructing new houses at the earliest.
d)      We shall grow vegetables all the year round. We shall eat plenty of them and sell the surplus.
e)      During the plantation seasons, we shall plant as many seedlings as possible.
f)       We shall plan to keep our families small. We shall minimize our expenditures. We shall look after our
health.
g)       We shall educate our children and ensure that they can earn to pay for their education.
h)       We shall always keep our children and the environment clean.
i)        We shall build and use pit-latrines.
j)        We shall drink water from tube wells. If it is not available, we shall boil water or use alum.
k)        We shall not take any dowry at our sons’ weddings; neither shall we give any dowry at our daughters wedding. We shall keep our centre free from the curse of dowry. We shall not practice child marriage.
l)        We shall not inflict any injustice on anyone; neither shall we allow anyone to do so.
m)        We shall collectively undertake bigger investments for higher incomes.
n)        We shall always be ready to help each other. If anyone is in difficulty, we shall all help him or her.
0)        We shall always be ready to help each other. If anyone is in difficulty, we shall all help him or her.
p)        We shall take part in all social activities collectively.

Though all the points above are based on nations which are developing or undeveloped countries, yet we can try to incorporate some good points, so that we can merge Creative Capitalization with Social Business.  As Social Business may not be followed by Business Managers, as in that case, there may not be any profits or brand names. Hence it should be a mix flavor of ‘Creative Capitalism and Social Business’.

Before going into the details lets quickly go through the points which have changed the lives of millions of people living at or below poverty line; Microfinance and the concept of Grameen Bank. The Founder of it states that “We will create a Poverty Museum by 2030. We will start with Bangladesh”.

Here are the salient features of the concept of trust based banking; ‘Social Business’.

1)       The Grameen Bank issues loans using very simple trust-based financial arrangements; no legal documents are involved because, in part, Grameen’s borrowers are poor and have no collateral. So, Grameen relies on trust and the positive incentives of continued access to credit and other support to ensure repayments and Grameen’s repayment rates have averaged better than 98 percent. Because Grameen’s loans are based on trust and positive incentives and no legal documents, Grameen has never used lawyers or courts to collect any of its loans. Grameen has about 7.5 million borrowers in Bangladesh, and has loaned approximately $7 billion since its inception, with an average loan size of about $150.

2)        When a potential borrower wants a loan, she has to form a group of five or join such a group of borrowers from her neighborhood and agree to meet with that group once a week. Each loan is made to an individual in the group and is the responsibility of that one individual, but others in the group cannot get their next loans if any member of the group is late in her payments.

3)        Grameen’s borrowers are also required to maintain a regular savings plan, and today its borrowers and their no borrowing neighbors as a group have $150 in savings for every $100 in loans outstanding. Today, the Grameen Bank is funded by the savings deposits of the poor. It has been profitable for all but three of the last twenty-five years.

4)        Grameen has issued more than 600,000 housing loans at 8 percent and about 20,000 educational loans at 5 percent. Grameen also has arranged loans for about 100,000 beggars, whom it calls; struggling members. We need to gather resources, people, facilities and funds. Corporate Social Responsibility will always continue to be the essential part of the business activity and with the advancement of globalization, technology, stakeholders, perceptions and knowledge and the pressure that is generated by limited natural resources.

Now if we merge the points of “Social Business’ and ‘Creative Capitalism’ then one can make wonders, wherein the powerful Corporate World and the least developed people are benefited. Its then we can do a perfect CSR; CORPORATE STRATEGIC RESPONSIBILITY.

Writer:

Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

Climate Change And Its Impacts

Our personal perception of Climate Change is largely developed through experience and interpretation of records compiled by our ancestors. People who grow up in the warmer temperate regions and tropics are in awe at the first sight of snow, no matter what they have read or visualized from film and television. It is also true that normal climate for a locality is based on weather, which we have experienced over recent years. This perception often occurs despite accounts of earlier catastrophes that had their origin in climate extremes, such as violent storm, flood or drought. Perhaps the exception is the markings seen around many riverside towns that point to levels achieved by past flood events. One of the strengths of humankind has been the ability to survive, adapt and prosper across a wide range of climatic regimes. If we look through the doors of history then we find that our communities have shown a capacity to withstand persisting climatic fluctuations. They do adapt and try to stabilize themselves as and when the climate becomes normal. However, there have been times, when prosperous civilizations have fallen, apparently because the regional Climate Change was so severe and prolonged that the social systems based on food production and trade could not sustain and a disaster took place. An Early record of the annual flow of the Nile River more than two thousand years ago and irrigation activities in China more than one thousand years ago survived and gave us insights into how climate has been in the past. With more of human intervention due to various reasons, there is an increase of Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming, which destabilized our Environment.

The World has surpassed a UN Goal of planting one billion trees in 2007 to help slow climate change. It was basically huge forestry projects in Ethiopia and Mexico. According to Indonesia President, about 79 million trees have been planted. He stated that the country would take steps to protect its rapidly dwindling rain forest. When we talk of green belt movement in Kenya, then one obviously remember the name of the Kenyan Environmentalist and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Wangari Maathai, who through her tireless work have contributed a lot to counter deforestation from logging and the burning of forests to create farmland.

A very interesting approach for a good forest management is the Green Belt Movement in Kenya.

GBM Kenya is a non-profit grassroots non-governmental organization. GBM Kenya focuses on six core programs:

·Environmental Conservation/Tree Planting

·Civic & Environmental Education

·Advocacy & Networking

·Pan African Training Workshops

·Green Belt Safaris (GBS)

·Women for Change (Capacity Building)

Green Belt Movement International has four goals:

·Goal 1: To strengthen and expand the Green Belt Movement in Kenya

·Goal 2: To share the Green Belt Movement’s program with other countries in Africa and beyond

·Goal 3: To empower Africans, especially women and girls, and nurture their leadership and entrepreneurial skills

·Goal 4: Advocate internationally for the environment, good governance, equity and cultures of peace

Asia and Pacific region accounts for 18.8 per cent of global forests. Within the region, Northwest Pacific and East Asia has the largest forest area (29.3 per cent of the regional total, followed by Southeast Asia (29.1 percent). Deforestation and forest degradation are critical issues, threatening biodiversity, ecosystem stability and the long term availability of forest products as well as depleting the natural resource. Population Pressure, Need for timber, urban and industrial need is the main causes for deforestation. Africa’s forest cover was estimated to be about 650 million ha, constituting 17 percent of the World’s Forest (FAO 2001). Here also deforestation both for commercial timber and to make room for agriculture is the main concern and represents an enormous loss of natural economic wealth to the Countries.

This in turn had a very bad effect on Climate. Therefore effective climate management also has to include these points:

·Strengthen basic and applied research for improved forest planning and management, with emphasis on environmental functions of forests.

·Modernize forest management concepts by including multiple functions and reflecting the cost and benefits of the amenities that forest provide.

·Co-operation of United Nations bodies to meet the needs for new knowledge to incorporate environmental values in National Land Use and its Forest Management.

·Effective Surveillance of the World’s Forest Cover.

Recent Bali conference on Climate Change has a difficult road to go before we can create a sustainable environment. Problems are many and we have very little time. A careful planning, policies and its immediate implementation can go a long way in creation of a Good Climate and in turn a Safer World. The outcome of this conference will, to a degree, determine whether Bali – and other vulnerable places – is destined to become a lost paradise, or not. If the Outcome of this conference keeps pace with the many positive political signals of the past year, we are on a good road to preventing a lost paradise. Almost, now after IPCC’s series of reports on Climate Change, people are taking things seriously.

But all this took a lot of time. It was in October 1985, at an International meeting in Villach, Austria convened by United Nations agencies, a group of Scientists decided it was time for the World to take action. The meeting concluded that there was a need to combat the perceived danger of global warming that would result from increasing concentrations of so-called green house gases in the atmosphere. These green house gas concentrations, particularly those of carbon dioxide (a product of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels) are increasing as a direct consequence of a range of human activities. A good climate leads to a sustainable development. Sustainable development is a deep –seated value and it encompasses issues of great importance to citizens, whether it is maintaining and increasing long term prosperity, addressing climate change or working towards a safe, healthy and socially inclusive society.

As, we face increasingly rapid Global Changes, from the melting of the icecaps to growing energy demand and higher prices, the need to address unsustainable trends and change our behavior and attitudes is more pressing than ever.

If we take a deep look at the European Union’s Sustainable development, then we find that it is targeted at achieving high level of Environmental Protection, Social equity and cohesion, economic prosperity and active promotion of sustainable development worldwide.

There are infact multiple inter linkages between key challenges: for example between the use of renewable energy and climate change and poverty.

The overallObjective of this sustainable development is to identify and develop actions to enable us to achieve continuous improvement of quality of life both for current and for future generations, through the creation of sustainable communities, who are able to manage and use resources efficiently and to tap the ecological and social innovation potential of the economy, ensuring prosperity, environmental protection and social cohesion. The renewed strategy sets the overall objectives:

·Climate Change and Clean Energy

·Sustainable Transport

·Sustainable Consumption and Production

·Public Health Threats

·Better Management of Natural Resources

·Social Inclusion, demography and migration

The best way to deal with Climate Change is to renew our commitment to Sustainable Development. It doesn’t mean that we use our resources in a random way. It means that the needs of the present generation should be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It should be an objective of our policy makers to set out a treaty, governing all the Union’s Policies and activities. It is about safe guarding the earth’s capacity to support life in all its diversity and is based on the principles of democracy, gender equality, solidarity, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights, including freedom and equal opportunities for all. Its all so inter related. To that end it promotes a dynamic economy with full employment and a high level of education, health protection, social and territorial cohesion and environmental protection in a peaceful and secure World, respecting the Cultural Diversity, Traditions, Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Religions etc. To that effect, it is also important to use ways for newer technology to fight Climate Change. Use of Remote Sensing Satellites and GIS has to be given more importance. Use of green technology has a great role to play for a sustainable environment and in turn a sustainable Climate.

The Villach Statement and its threat of global warming became an international forum for actions to curb emissions of green house gases to the atmosphere. Around the World a diverse range of interest groups, especially across the environment movement, co-operated to raise public awareness of the greenhouse climate change threat.Later a series of Government and National and International conferences of invited experts were widely reported in the media and ensured a raised public recognition of the issue. So, successful was the awareness- raising campaign that within 3 years the United Nations, through its agencies UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and WMO (The World Meteorological Organization), had established an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which we know as IPCC.

This organization was empowered with:

a) “Assessing the scientific information that is related to the various components of the climate change issue, such as emissions of major green house gases and modification of the earth’s radiation balance resulting there from and that needed to enable the environmental and socioeconomic consequences of climate change to be evaluated.

b) Formulating realistic response strategies for the management of the climate change issue.

3 working groups were established to address the IPCC objectives. The tasks of Working Groups I, II and III were respectively to:

i) Assess available scientific information on climate change.

ii) Assess environmental and socio-economic impacts of climate change.

iii) Formulate response strategies.

The working group did confirm the Villach conclusions and found a serious anthropogenic threat to the Global Climate. After a period of less than 18 months, in July 1990, the IPCC WG1 published their findings following an assessment of the available scientific literature. The principal findings of the report were:

i)There is a greenhouse effect because a range of gases occurring naturally in the atmosphere, such carbon dioxide, keep the earth’s surface warmer than it would otherwise be.

ii)The concentrations in the atmosphere of a range of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, are increasing because of human activities.

iii)The increasing concentrations of certain greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide will lead to global warming but neither its magnitude timing, nor its regional characteristics could be determined.

Later the United Nations General Assembly took up the challenge presented by the IPCC scientific assessment and the Statement of the second World Climate conference. An Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee was convened to develop a Framework Convention on Climate Change in time for the June 1992, Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro.The committee, open to all member countries of the United Nations, met six occasions between 1991 and May 1992 before finally a reaching agreement. At the Earth Summit, representatives of more than 150 countries signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that results from negotiations. More countries signed subsequently.

The Convention requires countries to take actions necessary for “Stabilization of green house gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

Despite the perceived threat posed by anthropogenic global warming, the short period available for negotiations meant that agreement could not be reached on binding mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and commitments that individual countries should make. Counter balancing the global warming threat were the immediate economic and social costs that would be experienced by many countries if they took action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The IPCC continued its work and issued its Second Assessment Report in 1995. Contemporary experiments using computer models of the climate system and various natural and anthropogenic forcing functions pointed to anthropogenic signals that could be detected in the observed Global Warming Pattern. The IPCC in its Second Assessment Report concluded that the balance of evidence suggested that a discernible human influence on global climate could be detected.

The public interest in the anthropogenic global warming issue and the perceived need for action did not abate. More than 10,000 people, made up mostly of non-government lobby groups and representatives of the World media, converged on Kyoto, Japan in December 1997 for the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. They were there to witness Government delegates negotiate a Protocol to stem the unconstrained emission of green house gases into the atmosphere. The Protocol was expected to give teeth to the Convention.

The Recent Conference on Climate Change (December 3rd, 2007), hosted by the Government of Indonesia, is taking place at the Bali International Convention Centre and brings together representatives of over 180 countries together with observers from Intergovernmental and Nongovernmental organizations and the media. The two week period includes the sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, its subsidiary bodies as well as the Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol. A ministerial segment in the second week will conclude the Conference.

What is needed is a breakthrough in the form of a roadmap for a future international agreement on enhanced global action to fight climate change in the period after 2012, the year the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires.

The main goal of the Bali Conference is threefold: to launch negotiations on a climate change deal for the post-2012 period, to set the agenda for these negotiations and to reach agreement on when these negotiations will have to be concluded.

However, this is an opportunity for good negotiations and would constitute a breakthrough. Areas which countries have already indicated a new deal is likely to cover are mitigation – including reducing emissions from deforestation – adaptation, technology and financing.

In addition to the future climate change process, other important ongoing issues will are inclusion of adaptation to climate change, the management and operation of a fund for adaptation, technology transfer, reducing emissions from deforestation and issues relating to the international carbon market spawned by the Kyoto Protocol.

However, European Union has gone a long way towards sustainable Climate Change. The ‘Environment for Europe’ process now brings together 56 countries across three continents to jointly address environmental challenges. In support of this process, the European Environment Agency has prepared a series of assessments of the environment for the pan European region to provide policy relevant, up to date and reliable information on the interactions between the environment and society.

The first comprehensive assessment of the state of the pan European environment was presented in Sofia in 1995. Updated assessments were presented at the Ministerial Conferences in Aarhus in 1998 and Kiev in 2003. This is the fourth report in the series. Where possible the report evaluates progress, primarily against the objectives of the Sixth Environment Action Programme of the European Community and the Environment Strategy for Countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. The report has been prepared in close partnership with a range of international organizations, governmental institutions and non governmental organizations across the region.

Successful implementation depends on the setting of clear and realistic targets together with mechanisms to monitor progress. Environmental information across the region still varies in quality, with the availability and reliability of data differing considerably. There is substantial room for further improvement in making much needed data and information not only accessible, but also more comparable and reliable.

Biodiversity decline and loss of ecosystem services continue to be a major concern across the pan European region. In addition, the number of invasive alien species in the region continues to increase. The Kiev Resolution’s overarching target of halting biodiversity loss in the region by 2010 will not be achieved without considerable additional efforts and resources. Communication, education and public awareness programmes, however, are being implemented according to the Kiev Resolution.

The main fact lies is what is our political answer to the prognostications made by our scientific community? Will the Bali Conference effectively handle these issues? Climate Change has become a global issue and needs global response. This was again followed by European Union’s Courageous Commitment to reduce emissions by 20% by 2020. The G8 then called for negotiations on a future climate deal to be concluded by 2009 and at an unprecedented High-Level Event at United Nations Headquarters in New York in September, many World Leaders called for a Breakthrough at Bali on a long term climate change regime. Climate Change has a global impact. Many scientific theories do support the views. Impacts such as intensified drought and rainfall, melting glaciers and rising sea levels, however are helping raise public awareness of climate change and therefore support for politicians to take action. It is also forecasted that Asia would be among the worst affected regions. Projected impacts include an increase of 10 to 20% in tropical cyclone intensity and more frequent heat waves like the one in India in 2002 which killed over 1000 people. Rising sea levels will also threaten millions of Asians, with over half of the population in 21 Asian Countries living in high – risk areas. There need to be four steps to tackle these issues and forecasts:

a)Mitigation: Action to limit or reduce emissions.

b)Adaptation: Putting in place a strategy to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

c)Technology:Helping countries limit or reduce emissions and adapt to the Impacts of Climate Change.

d)Finance:Generating investment and financial flows which will allow developing countries to act on mitigation and adaptation without harming their primary economic growth and poverty eradication.

The other points that can be kept in mind are: Effective management of our existing forests and biodiversity conservation along with afforestation initiatives. Another important topic is CDM (Clean Development Mechanism), one of the three innovative mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol which offers rich countries the choice of reducing emissions at home or in developing countries, which can benefit both parties. We also need good awareness initiatives for the masses and the media of the World should be on board of the project, so that our POLICIES AND PLANNING reaches to every corner of the World.

More over most important is use of greener technology for effective climate management. Let’s work together and create a Safer, Stronger, Greener and a Disaster Free World for us as well as for our future generations.

Thanks a lot for reading the post. Looking forward to your feedback  at   mainak@mainaksworld.com 

Writer:

Mr. Mainak Mazumder

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

Sleeplessness; A personal Disaster

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Sleepless nights and too much stress do affect our lives. Our biological clock acts abnormally and that’s not natural. We sleep at night and wake up during day. Ask anyone and the answer goes; ‘We need to sleep at least 8 hours a day’. But do we really do that? Some says ‘Yes’ and most will say ‘No’. Employees of different organizations are so stressed with their daily schedules that some sleep with their eyes open. We are biologically designed to spend one third of our lives asleep. But many are just too busy to sleep. These hectic lifestyles have made the corporate to wake up to the sleep deficit of their employees who work for long hours.

There can be various types of sleep disorders. They are given below:

a) Insomnia:

It is the inability to sleep. Generally, it is the problem to stay asleep. The symptoms include frequent awakenings, or waking up and finding that one is unable to sleep. It happens mostly due to worry or depression. Hence the easiest way to treat it is to remove depression from ones life. Always think positive and stay infront of bright light. A room well lighted gives you good positive thoughts and enhances your good mood. However, if your difficulty in sleeping has occurred for more than a month and is interfering with your daily functions, it is time to seek help from a professional. Treatment can be as simple as educating yourself on the reasons behind your insomnia.

b) Narcolepsy:

It is a sleep disorder causing excessive daytime sleepiness and, in many cases, sleeps attacks during waking hours.

c) Sleep Apnea:

Sleep Apnea is defined as the cessation of breathing during sleep.

d) Fibromyalgia:

People suffering from fibromyalgia suffer from overwhelming daytime fatigue despite an adequate amount of sleep and the presence of numerous painful tender points in the back hips, thighs and neck. Some exercise increases the phenomenon. Unfortunately, there is no specific diagnostic test for fibromyalgia. Instead, go from doctor to doctor in search of a diagnosis and often receive treatments directed at their individual symptoms. Most patients with fibromyalgia will concede that on those rare nights when they obtain a good night of sleep they feel significantly better, more alert and have a reduction in pain and discomfort.

e) Restless Legs Syndrome:

It is a movement disorder that causes uncomfortable sensations in the legs. These sensations typically are worse during periods of rest, especially just before sleeping at night, but they may happen during daytime periods of inactivity, such as watching a movie, attending a long business meeting or flying in a plane. Whenever the discomfort of Restless Legs Syndrome occurs, it is usually accompanied by an overwhelming urge to move the legs and this movement may relieve leg discomfort temporarily. During night, people suffering from these symptoms make it difficult to fall asleep. As a result, insomnia happens. The cause of RLS remains unknown. However, evidence suggests that there is dysfunction in dopamine pathways in the brain. It may also be linked to certain types of iron deficiency.

What the Research Says About Sleep Duration?

The first thing experts will tell you about sleep is that there is no “magic number.” Not only do different age groups need different amounts of sleep, but sleep needs are also individual. Just like any other characteristics you are born with, the amount of sleep you need to function best may be different for you than for someone who is of the same age and gender. While you may be at your absolute best sleeping seven hours a night, someone else may clearly need nine hours to have a happy, productive life. In fact, a 2005 study confirmed the fact that sleep needs vary across populations, and the study calls for further research to identify traits within genes that may provide a “map” to explain how sleep needs differ among individuals.

Though the actual amount of sleep is under research, but a minimum amount of 7-8 hours of sleep is necessary. Too less sleep can inhibit your productivity and have negative effect on your memory i.e your ability to remember and consolidate information and lack of sleep can also lead to serious health consequences and can seriously jeopardize your safety.

Sleep disturbance can lead to:

* Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents

* Increase in body mass index – a greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation

* Increased risk of diabetes and heart problems

* Increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse

* Decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information

Hence, sleep well and don’t compromise on your sleep time. Stay healthy and increase your ability to cope up with your day to day challenges successfully.

Thanks for taking your time and reading this post. If there is any mistake in the above data, please let me know at writer’s  E-mail address.

Writer:

—-  Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS CHALLENGES

Climatechange9

Climate change is one of the most critical global challenges of our time. Recent events have emphatically demonstrated our growing vulnerability to climate change. Climate change impacts will range from affecting agriculture- further endangering food security-, sea-level rise and the accelerated erosion of coastal zones, increasing intensity of natural disasters, species extinction and the spread of vector-borne diseases.

Climate change refers to the variation in the Earth’s global climate or in regional climates over time. It describes changes in the variability or average state of the atmosphere over time scales, ranging from decades to millions of years. These changes can be caused by processes internal to the Earth, external forces (e.g. variations in sunlight intensity) and, more recently, human activities.

In recent usage, especially in the context of environmental policy, the term “climate change” often refers to changes in modern climate which according to the IPCC are 90-95% likely to have been in part caused by human action. Consequently the term anthropogenic climate change is frequently adopted; this phenomenon is also referred to in the mainstream media as global warming. In some cases, the term is also used with a presumption of human causation, as in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC uses “climate variability” for non-human caused variations.

Weather is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere, and is a chaotic non-linear dynamical system. On the other hand, climate — the average state of weather — is fairly stable and predictable. Climate includes the average temperature, amount of precipitation, days of sunlight, and other variables that might be measured at any given site. However, there are also changes within the Earth’s environment that can affect the climate.

Glaciation

Percentage of advancing glaciers in the Alps in the last 80 years. Glaciers are recognized as one of the most sensitive indicators of climate change, advancing substantially during climate cooling (e.g., the Little Ice Age) and retreating during climate warming on moderate time scales. Glaciers grow and collapse, both contributing to natural variability and greatly amplifying externally-forced changes. For the last century, however, glaciers have been unable to regenerate enough ice during the winters to make up for the ice lost during the summer months.

Ocean variability

A schematic of modern thermohaline circulation. On the scale of decades, climate changes can also result from interaction of the atmosphere and oceans. Many climate fluctuations, the best known being the El Niño Southern oscillation but also including the Pacific decadal oscillation, the North Atlantic oscillation, and Arctic oscillation, owe their existence at least in part to different ways that heat can be stored in the oceans and move between different reservoirs. On longer time scales ocean processes such as thermohaline circulation play a key role in redistributing heat, and can dramatically affect climate.

Climate Change Outreach Programme

Responding to the needs of the countries and following the request from the UNFCCC Secretariat, UNEP/DEC has initiated and implemented a major programme on climate change outreach that directly supported the UNFCCC New Delhi Work Programme on Article 6 (Education, Training and Public Awareness) The objectives of this project are to provide to Governments additional tools for promoting climate change awareness at the national level. Support efforts by associations and NGOs to provide accurate and accessible messages of IPCC on climate change to their memberships or target audiences, make the youth more aware of the climate change implications and motivated to take relevant climate friendly actions, and raise awareness of general public on climate change problems with easily understandable graphic materials. Project partners include the Governments of Kenya, Ghana , Namibia , Russia , Uzbekistan , Mexico , Albania , Georgia, the UNFCCC and IPCC Secretariats, WWF, TERI, the Government of Norway and other donors.

National Climate Outreach Campaigns

Those campaigns have been implemented in Namibia , Ghana , Kenya , Russia , Uzbekistan , Albania and Georgia . Each campaign identified local needs and priorities for implementing national-level Article 6 activities, promoted collaboration and networking among focal points and key stakeholders, produced popular brochures and booklets in local languages, organized radio and TV presentations on hot climate topics – and much more. In Latin America UNEP/DEC supported publication of a Handbook on Climate Change Communications for local practitioners that was successfully tested at a regional workshop with participants from 10 countries of the region.

Climate Outreach to Youth

UNEP has entered into a partnership with TERI Institute ( India ) to promote environmental education among the school children in India . This programme covered more than 100 schools in 8 states of the country and featured establishing school climate clubs, workshops and seminars for children, arranging climate-related shows and presentations and compiling guide books on climate change for teachers.

Thanks a lot for taking your time and reading. Please put a comment, if your time permits.

Regards,

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

BANGLADESH CYCLONE: HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

Candles786A severe cyclone has killed more than 500 people in Bangladesh and left thousands injured or missing. As, the latest new goes, Three thousand people have been confirmed dead in Bangladesh after a cyclone hit the south of the country, the private ATN Bangla television network said Sunday as the death toll continued to rise.

“We are expecting that thousands of dead bodies may be found within a few days,” the deputy head of the government’s disaster management office, Shekhar Chandra Das, told AFP in the capital Dhaka.

“We have not been able to collect information about casualties in many remote and impassable places due to the disruption to communications,” he said. In most areas telephone lines are down and roads blocked. Countless villages have also been blown from the face of the earth.
“The number of deaths so far is 1,723 and it is increasing,” said major Emdadul Islam of the armed forces control room.

“A 20-foot (six-metre) wall of water wrecked the village of Charkhali and 30 more people are still missing,” said local government official K.M. Abdul Wadud.


“The wind and the tidal surge were so strong that it churned up four kilometres (2.5 miles) of a tarmac road,” added resident Anowar Hossen Khan.

The dead were being buried in a mass grave, villagers said.
Millions more were also said to be homeless. “Village after village has been shattered,” said administrator Hariprasad Pal. “Millions of people are living out in the open and relief is reaching less than one percent of the people.”

Residents in southern districts near the coast bore the full brunt of the storm and told AFP of their terror as they were hit by wind speeds of up to 240 kilometres (155 miles) an hour, huge waves and suffocating rain. Fulmala Begum, 40, said she was not warned to evacuate and had to take refuge under a bed with her husband and two children as the storm roared around her.
“Five hours later we found ourselves under a heap of tin roofs and two huge trees. Not a single house in my village was spared the catastrophe,” said the woman, lucky to be alive but totally destitute.


Thousands of survivors waited for relief aid amid their wrecked homes and flooded fields after the deadliest storm to hit Bangladesh in a decade, as a news report said the cyclone’s death toll neared 1,800.


The Government scrambled to join international agencies and local officials in the rescue mission following Tropical Cyclone Sidr, deploying military helicopters, thousands of troops and naval ships. Rescuers struggled to clear roads and get their vehicles through, but many found the blockages impassable. “We will try again tomorrow on bicycles, and hire local country boats,” M Shakil Anwar of CARE said from the city of Khulna. At least 1.5 million coastal villagers had fled to shelters where they were given emergency rations. The cyclone, which followed devastating floods in July-September that killed more than 1000, posed a new challenge to the interim administration, whose main task is to hold free and fair national elections before the end of next year. The cyclone triggered a tidal surge that inundated the towns of Patuakhali, Barguna and Jharkhand, cutting off communication links. A government official in Dhaka said there was no immediate information about casualities from the area. The cyclone blew past India’s eastern coast without causing much damage.


The cyclone will pass and we will again try to bring back things to normalcy. But the cyclone definitely left behind a legacy of pain, sorrow and memories which are never to be forgotten. It left behind orphans, left behind the cries of a bereaved mother and father. All our planning and policies failed. Situations went out of hand. Mother Nature turned so destructive that we just stood as mere spectators and our near and dear ones are taken away from us.

Lets join hands and together create a Safer, Greener and a Disaster Free World for us as well as for our future generations.

Writer:

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

ACQUIRED IMMUNODEFICIENCY SYNDROME

Flowers9

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections. Previous names for the virus include human T-lymphotropic virus-III (HTLV-III), lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV) or AIDS-associated retrovirus (ARV).

Infection with HIV occurs by the transfer of blood, semen. Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells. Screening of blood products for HIV in the developed world has largely eliminated transmission through blood transfusions or infected blood products in these countries.

HIV infection in humans is now pandemic. As of January 2006, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized on December 1, 1981, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in recorded history. In 2005 alone, AIDS claimed an estimated 2.4–3.3 million lives, of which more than 570,000 were children. It is estimated that about 0.6% of the world’s living population is infected with HIV. A third of these deaths are occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, retarding economic growth and increasing poverty. According to current estimates, HIV is set to infect 90 million people in Africa, resulting in a minimum estimate of 18 million orphans. Antiretroviral treatment reduces both the mortality and the morbidity of HIV infection, but routine access to antiretroviral medication is not available in all countries.

HIV primarily infects vital cells in the human immune system such as helper T cells (specifically CD4+ T cells), macrophages and dendritic cells. HIV infection leads to low levels of CD4+ T cells through three main mechanisms: firstly, direct viral killing of infected cells; secondly, increased rates of apoptosis in infected cells; and thirdly, killing of infected CD4+ T cells by CD8 cytotoxic lymphocytes that recognize infected cells. When CD4+ T cell numbers decline below a critical level, cell-mediated immunity is lost, and the body becomes progressively more susceptible to opportunistic infections. If untreated, eventually most HIV-infected individuals develop AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) and die; however about one in ten remains healthy for many years, with no noticeable symptoms. Treatment with anti-retrovirals, where available, increases the life expectancy of people infected with HIV. It is hoped that current and future treatments may allow HIV-infected individuals to achieve a life expectancy approaching that of the general public.

CONFLICT AND HIV RISK

New research findings from Uganda cast doubt on the widely held assumption that internally displaced persons and refugees are more likely to be HIV-infected than people in ostensibly more stable settings. Acholiland, in northern Uganda, is home to an estimated two million internally displaced persons. At just over 8%, HIV prevalence in the region is high (Ministry of Health Uganda and ORC Macro, 2006). However, a study among pregnant women in the Gulu, Kitgum and Pader districts has found that women living outside protected camps had a higher risk of being HIV-infected than their displaced counterparts living in protected camps. This might be due to the reduced mobility and increased access to health and prevention services of women in some of the camps (Fabiani et al., 2006). A recent review of HIV literature on displaced persons in eight countries (including Uganda) also failed to find evidence that conflict increases HIV transmission (Spiegel and Harroff-Tavel, 2006).

VERY HIGH MALARIA RATES FOUND IN HIV-INFECTED PERSONS
Unexpectedly high levels of HIV infection are being found in adults seeking treatment for malaria in Uganda. More than 30% of adults presenting at district health centres with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were co-infected with HIV. Clinical treatment for malaria was three times more likely in adults with HIV. The findings are in line with a growing body of evidence from elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa that malaria tends to occur with increased frequency and severity in HIV-infected adults. This underlines the need for new strategies of HIV testing and counselling for adults with uncomplicated falciparum malaria (Kamya et al., 2006).

ADULTS AND CHILDREN ESTIMATED TO BE LIVING WITH HIV IN 2006
Total: 39.5 (34.1–47.1) million

Sub-Saharan
Africa

24.7 million

(21.8–27.7 million)
Latin America

1.7 million

(1.3–2.5 million)
Caribbean
250 000

(190 000–320 000)
North America

1.4 million

(880 000–2.2 million)
Middle East and North Africa

460 000

(270 000–760 000)
Western and Central Europe

740 000

(580 000–970 000)
Oceania
81 000

(50 000–170 000)
East Asia

750 000

(460 000–1.2 million)
South and South-East Asia

7.8 million

(5.2–12.0 million)
Eastern Europe and Central Asia

1.7 million

(1.2–2.6 million)
ESTIMATED NUMBER OF ADULTS AND CHILDREN NEWLY INFECTED WITH HIV DURING 2006:

Total: 4.3 (3.6–6.6) million

Sub-Saharan

Africa
2.8 million

(2.4–3.2 million)
Latin America

140 000

(100 000–410 000)
Caribbean
27 000

(20 000–41 000)
North America

43 000

(34 000–65 000)
Middle East and North Africa

68 000

(41 000–220 000)

Western and Central Europe

22 000

(18 000–33 000)
Oceania
7100
(3400–54 000)

East Asia

100 000

(56 000–300 000)
South and South-East Asia

860 000

(550 000–2.3 million)
Eastern Europe and Central Asia

270 000

(170 000–820 000)
The ranges around the estimates in this table define the boundaries within which the actual numbers lie, based on the best available information. The data is referred from UNAIDS and WHO.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2007
World AIDS Day was originally organised by UNAIDS, who chose the theme after consultation with other organisations. In 2005 UNAIDS handed over responsibility for World AIDS Day to an independent organisation known as The World AIDS Campaign (WAC).
The WAC’s slogan for their work is “Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise”. This is an appeal to governments, policy makers and regional health authorities to ensure that they meet the many targets that have been set in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and especially the promise of universal access to HIV treatment, care, support and prevention services by 2010. This campaign will run until 2010, with a related theme chosen for World AIDS Day each year.
The 2007 theme, “leadership”, highlights the need for innovation, vision and perseverance in the face of the AIDS challenge. The campaign calls on all sectors of society such as families, communities and civil society organisations – rather than just governments – to take the initiative and provide leadership on AIDS.

On the eve of World Aids Day (1st December), lets pray and give psychological support to those who still lives with us. A little care from our side, will bring smiles on the face of those, who will one day, leave our planet and become one with almighty.

Let’s fight this disaster. Let’s make someone smile today. Let’s create a family.

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

DISASTER MANAGEMENT WITH BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION

Lets Conserve our Ecosytem

Lets Conserve our Ecosytem

Biodiversity refers to the variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic eco-systems and the ecological complexes of which they are part. This includes diversity within species (genetic diversity), between species and of ecosystems. Through out the world; it is known that Tropical forest systems are the most species rich environments. Although they cover less than 10 percent of world’s surface, they may contain 90 percent of the world’s species. The most species rich areas are the coral reefs. Biological diversity – or biodiversity – is the term given to the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms. The biodiversity we see today is the fruit of billions of years of evolution, shaped by natural processes and, increasingly, by the influence of humans. It forms the web of life of which we are an integral part and upon which we so fully depend.


This diversity is often understood in terms of the wide variety of plants, animals and microorganisms. So far, about 1.75 million species have been identified, mostly small creatures such as insects. Scientists reckon that there are actually about 13 million species, though estimates range from 3 to 100 million. Biodiversity also includes genetic differences within each species – for example, between varieties of crops and breeds of livestock. Chromosomes, genes, and DNA-the building blocks of life-determine the uniqueness of each individual and each species. Yet another aspect of biodiversity is the variety of ecosystems such as those that occur in deserts, forests, wetlands, mountains, lakes, rivers, and agricultural landscapes. In each ecosystem, living creatures, including humans, form a community, interacting with one another and with the air, water, and soil around them. It is the combination of life forms and their interactions with each other and with the rest of the environment that has made Earth a uniquely habitable place for humans. Biodiversity provides a large number of goods and services that sustain our lives. Around 1.75 million species have been named by taxonomists to date (UNEP-WCMC 2000: United Nations Environmental Program and World Conservation Monitoring Center). The total number of species has recently been estimated as 14 million throughout the world and according to “Animal” (World Book Encyclopedia. 16 vols. Chicago: World Book, 2003) there are about 50 million species throughout the world. These living organisms do contribute to a wide variety of environmental services, such as regulation of gaseous composition of the atmosphere, protection of coastal zones, regulation of hydrological cycle and climate, generation and conservation of fertile soils, dispersal and breakdown of wastes, pollination of many crops and absorption of pollutants. The most interesting thing is that many of these services by macro as well as micro organisms are not widely accepted and neither widely recognized nor properly valued in economic terms throughout the world. However, the combined economic value of ecosystem services has recently been estimated in the range of US$16-54 Trillion per year and mounting. The important fact lies that human health and well being are directly dependent on bio-diversity. Any changes to that bring an imbalance in the Natural Eco-system and bring a Disaster. We try to explore nature for our development; which is our need and Nature needs to sustain itself for its survival; in turn for our survival. Whenever this imbalance reaches its limit; a natural disaster occurs. The importance of biodiversity also lies in the fact that 10 of the world’s 25 Top selling drugs for medicinal purposes were derived from natural sources. The global market value of pharmaceuticals derived from genetic resources is estimated at US$75,000-1,50,000 million annually. Some 75 percent of the world’s population relies on health care on traditional medicines, which are derived directly from natural sources (UNDP, UNEP, WORLD BANK and WRI 2000). Not only that, biodiversity also provides genetic resources for food and agriculture, and therefore constitutes the biological basis for world food security and support for human livelihoods. But for various reasons; throughout the world, Global biodiversity is changing at a unprecedented rate; the most important drivers of this change being land conversion, climate change, pollution, unsustainable harvesting of natural resources and the introduction of exotic species. The relative importance of these drivers differs between eco-systems. For example land conversion is most intensive in tropical forests and less intensive in temperate, boreal and arctic regions; atmospheric nitrogen deposition is largest in northern temperate areas close to cities; introduction of exotic species is related to patterns of human activity – those areas remote from human intervention generally receive fewer introduced species. The ultimate causes of biodiversity loss are human population growth together with unsustainable patterns of consumption, increasing production of waste and pollutants, urban development, internal conflict and continuing inequities in the distribution of wealth and resources. The most significant response to the crisis of biodiversity during the past 35 years has been the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which entered into force on 1993.

The convention has 3 main goals to achieve. Signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. Conceived as a practical tool for translating the principles of Agenda 21 into reality, the Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live. It had been signed by around 182 Parties by December 2001.

Thus as an international treaty identifies a common problem, sets overall goals and policies and general obligations, and organizes technical and financial cooperation. However, the responsibility for achieving its goals rests largely with the countries and the people themselves.

The impact of climate change on biodiversity to date is still unclear. The increasing incidence of coral reef bleaching may be a consequence of recent rises in global ocean temperature. Reports of coral bleaching have increased greatly since 1989, with all records of mass bleaching occurring after this date. The most significant mass bleaching was associated with the 1997-1998 ENSO Event, when all ten reef provinces of the world were affected. In some areas, most notably the Indian Ocean, this event was followed by mass mortality, where upto 90 percent of the corals died over thousands of square kilometers.

BIODIVERSITY INDIA

India is very rich in biodiversity. The most important regions being the

  • Himalayas
  • Chilka Lake
  • Sunderbans
  • Western Ghats
  • Thar Desert
  • Andaman and Nicober Islands

India has a rich and varied heritage of biodiversity, encompassing a wide spectrum of habitats from tropical rainforests to alpine vegetation and from temperate forests to coastal wetlands. India figured with two hotspots – the Western Ghats and the Eastern Himalayas – in an identification of 18 biodiversity hotspots carried out in the eighties (Myers. 1988). Recently, Norman Myers and a team of scientists have brought out an updated list of 25 hotspots (Myers et. al. 2000). In the revised classification, the 2 hotspots that extend into India are The Western Ghats /Sri Lanka and the Indo-Burma region (covering the Eastern Himalayas); and they are included amongst the top eight most important hotspots. In addition, India has 26 recognized endemic centers that are home to nearly a third of all the flowering plants identified and described to date. Of the estimated 5–50 million species of the world’s biota, only 1.7 million have been described to date (Groombridge, and Jenkins. 2000), and the distribution is highly uneven. About seven per cent of the world’s total land area is home to half of the world’s species, with the tropics alone accounting for 5 million. India contributes significantly to this latitudinal biodiversity trend. With a mere 2.4% of the world’s area, India accounts for 7.31% of the global faunal total with a faunal species count of 89,451 species (MoEF. 1999). Some salient features of India’s biodiversity have been mentioned below.India has ten biogeographic regions including the Trans-Himalayan, the Himalayan, the Indian desert, the semi-arid zone(s), the Western Ghats, the Deccan Peninsula, the Gangetic Plain, North-East India, and the islands and coasts (Rodgers and Panwar. 1988). India is one of the 12 centers of origin of cultivated plants.

India has 5 world heritage sites, 12 biosphere reserves, and 6 Ramsar wetlands. Amongst the protected areas, India has 88 national parks and 490 sanctuaries covering an area of 1.53 lakh sq. km.The endemism of Indian biodiversity is high. About 33% of the country’s recorded flora are endemic to the country and are concentrated mainly in the North-East, Western Ghats, North-West Himalaya and the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Of the 49,219 plant species, 5150 are endemic and distributed into 141 genera under 47 families corresponding to about 30% of the world’s recorded flora, which means 30% of the world’s recorded floras are endemic to India. Of these endemic species, 3,500 are found in the Himalayas and adjoining regions and 1600 in the Western Ghats alone. About 62% of the known amphibian species are endemic with the majority occurring in the Western Ghats. Nearly 50% of the lizards of India are endemic with a high degree of endemicity in the Western Ghats. India is a centre of crop diversity – the homeland of 167 cultivated species and 320 wild relatives of crop plants.

India’s record in agro-biodiversity is equally impressive. There are 167 crop species and wild relatives. India is considered to be the center of origin of 30,000-50,000 varieties of rice, pigeon-pea, mango, turmeric, ginger, sugarcane, gooseberries etc and ranks seventh in terms of contribution to world agriculture.

Comparative statement of recorded number of plant species in India and the world

Taxa Species Percentage
of India to
the world
India World
Bacteria 850 4000 21.25%
Viruses Unknown 4000 _
Algae 6500 40000 16.25%
Fungi 14,500 72000 20.14%
Lichens 2000 17000 11.80%
Bryophyta 2850 16000 17.80%
Pteridophyta 1100 13000 8.46%
Gymnosperms 64 750 8.53 %

Source. MOEF 1999, Government of India

Biosphere reserves of India

Name of the site Date of notification Area in Sq. km Location (State)
Nilgiri 01.08.86 5,520 Parr of Wynad , Nagarhole, Bandipur and Madumalai, Nilambur, Silent Valley and Siruvani hills (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka)
Nanda Devi 18.01.88 5,860.69 Par of Chamoli, Pithoragarh, Almora Districts (Uttaranchal)
Nokrerk 01.09.88 820 Part of Gora Hills (Meghalaya)
Manas 14.03.89 2,837 Part of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamprup and Darang district (Assam)
Sunderbans 29.03.89 9,630 Part of delta of Ganga & Brahamaputra river system (West Bengal)
Gulf of Mannar 18.02.89 10,500 Indan part of Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka (Tamil Nadu)
Great Nicobar 06.01.89 885 Southern most islands of Andaman and Nicobar (A&N islands)
Similpal 21.06.94 4,374 Part of Mayurbhanj district (Orissa)
Dibru-Saikhowa 28.07.97 765 Part of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia district (Assam)
Dehang Debang 02.09.98 5,112 Part of Siang and Debang velley (Arunachal Pradesh)
Pachmarhi 03.03.99 4,926.28 Parts of Betul, Hoshangabad and Chindwara districts (Madhya Pradesh)
Kanchanjanga 07.02.00 2,619.92 Part of Kanchanjanga Hills (Sikkim)

Source: MOEF 2000, Government of India

India’s World heritage sites

Site Location
Kaziranga National Park Assam
Keoladeo Ghana National Park Rajasthan
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary Assam
Nanda Devi National Park Uttar Pradesh
Sundarban National Park West Bengal

Source: MOEF 1999, Government of India

Table: Threatened Animals of India by Status Category

Ex EW CR EN VU LR/cd LR/nt DD
0 0 18 54 143 10 99 31

Legend
Ex-extinct; EW-Extinct in the Wild; CR- Critically Endangered; VU-Vulnerable; LR/cd-Lower Risk conservation dependent; LR/nT- Lower Risk near threatened; DD-Data Deficient

Source: IUCN 2000Though assessment of the impact of policy responses to pressures on biodiversity is limited by the lack of a comprehensive system for monitoring; for collating relevant data and for presenting information in a consistent manner. In general, it is accepted that biodiversity continues to decline. Most examples of successful conservation action are those where particular attention and considerable financial resources have been focused on individual species or localized areas. Many threats to biodiversity such as habitat loss and invasion by introduced species continue to intensify. In addition, new threats may be emerging , such as climate change and bio-invasion (It is the influx of alien species. These are considered invasive when they become established in natural habitats, are agents of change, and threaten native biological diversity. Alien invasive species include bacteria, viruses, fungi, insects, mollusks, plants, fish, mammals and birds :- IUCN 2001). So, loss of biodiversity in India as well as the world will definitely create an environmental problem and will be the cause of a Natural Disaster of greater magnitude. Deforestation due to various reasons, increase of pollutants leading to large amounts of toxic inputs in our environment; together with hazardous wastes of all kinds does make the matter more worse.

The purifying system of nature could not act against those huge toxic inputs of humankind.

The result is a disaster.

That’s the time; when we do see Flood in deserts; for example the border district of Barmer drowned under 577 mm of rainfall submerging 88 villages with an approximate population of about 20 lakh or just finding snow in Dubai and parts of Europe saw a blinding heat wave which killed many, especially the elderly, since they just don’t know how to cope with this unpredictable extremities.

Some of the policies, which can be taken into account for biodiversity conservation, are:

· Identifying and monitoring the important components of biological diversity that needs to be conserved and used sustainably.

· Establishing protected areas to conserve biological diversity while promoting environmentally sound development around these areas.

· Respecting, preserving and maintaining traditional knowledge of the sustainable use of biological diversity with the involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities.

· Educating people and raising awareness about the importance of biological diversity and the need to conserve it

· Promoting public participation, particularly when it comes to assessing the environmental impacts of development projects that threaten biological diversity and protecting the biodiversity hot spots from alien species.

Biodiversity conservation is an important step towards a successful disaster management and if policies are implemented to protect it, then we can get one step closer in making a Disaster Free World.

Thanks a lot for taking your time and reading the post. Please put a comment, if your time permits. Incase, there is any mistake in the data, it will be very kind of you, if you please let me know at my e-mail address.

– Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

TIPS TO SAVE YOURSELF FROM HURRICANES

Tips to save yourself from Hurricanes

Lets now take a look into the management of Hurricanes, if it strikes in your area.
Having taken into consideration that, you have already read the letters posted previously, we will try to focus on the management of Hurricanes in short.

A hurricane is a severe tropical storm that forms in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Pacific Ocean east of the dateline, or the South Pacific Ocean east of 160E. Hurricanes need warm tropical oceans, moisture and light winds above them. If the right conditions last long enough, a hurricane can produce violent winds, incredible waves, torrential rains and floods.

Hurricanes are known by different namesin different parts of the world.
In the Northwest Pacific ocean it is known as a Typhoon
In the Southwest Pacific Ocean west of 160E or Southeast Indian Ocean east of 90E : – its known as Severe Tropical Cyclone
In the North Indian Ocean, its known as the Severe Cyclonic Storm
And in the Southwest Indian Ocean it’s known as the Tropical Cyclone.

So, whatever be its name, Its capable of causing immense destruction taking the death toll to millions of our brothers and sisters. In general, these Hurricanes rotates in a counterclockwise directions. The centre of this cyclones is called an “eye” . When the wind speed reaches 74mph, it takes the form of a hurricane.In the year 2006, there were many Hurricanes in the Atlantic region. They are:

Alberto, Helene, Oscar, Beryl, Isaac, Patty, Chris, JOyce, Rafael, Debby, Kirk, Sandy, ERnesto, Leslie, Tony, Florence, Michael, Valerie, Gordon, Nandine, William etc… the list might go on.

Dear friends, it becomes very easy to name the cyclones. But imagine all this cyclones have brought along with it lots of destruction. Many childs have become hurricanes, many mothers have lost their son or daughter, many wives have lost their husband and vice-versa.. many… infact many.. have lost everything.. their near and dear ones. Can we not stop all this things happening. Yes, friends, we can do it. If we have little awareness about the disaster we are prone to.

Here is some tip as what to do, when a storm just like Hurricane or a real hurricane strikes. Please read it carefully or please do take a print-out of the tips. Please do also forward it to your near and dear ones, so that everyone has the opportunity to read it and equip themselves in advance. Today’s temperature and climatic conditions are constantly changing. So, impossible things are also happening. FLOOD IN DESERT REGIONS!!! Who knows the next Hurricane can strike near by your area. So, please take some time to read it:

1. Have a disaster supplies kit ready with you.
2. Please do store atleast one gallon of drinking water per family member for atleast three days.
3. To be on the safer side, you must keep canned goods, dry foods which are  non-perisable. As, you never know, how long time it might take relief to come to your place.
4. First aid supplies, extra prescription medicines, eye glasses and hearing aid supplies if needed. Sanitary supplies.
5. Supplies for people in your family with special needs such as infants, the elderly or people with physical limitations.
6. You should make copies of your valuable papers in case the originals are lost and store them in a water-proof container.
7. In case you have pets in your house, please do plan as where to board them.
8. Have you checked window boards.. Are they lose? So, please check shutters on windows or purchase boards to fit windows.
9. Store enough drinking water to last for at least two weeks in case local water sources are unavailable.

Incase Local Officials advise you to evacuate, then please follow directions of local officials. Remember, evacuation routes can be closed by high winds and water many hours before a hurricane or tropical strom makes landfall. Additionally rainfall and local drainage conditions can flood evecuation routes quickly.

PLEASE DO KEEP A RADIO ALONG WITH YOU. PLEASE LISTEN TO YOUR LOCAL RADIO STATION FOR UPDATED INFORMATION.

Now incase you do have to evacuate,
Know exactly to which place you are going and leave early.
The most imporatant thing during that time is to make sure that you have a FULL FUEL TANK IN YOUR VEHICLE, if you own one.
TURN OFF GAS, WATER AND ELECTRICITY IN YOUR HOME.
Lock doors and windows, leave a note on the door indicating your destination and identifying an out-of-area point of contact.
KEEP IMPORTANT PAPERS LIKE INSURANCE FORMS, DRIVER’S LICENSES, PROPERTY INVENTORY AND MEDICAL INFORMATION with you ALL TIMES.

Please do remember at the last, that pets are not generally allowed in shelters. If you can not make arrangements for them in a kennel, provide a comfortable area in your home with PLENTY OF FOOD and CLEAN WATER.

ABOVE ALL PLEASE DONT PANICK..STAY COOL AND EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE.

We also request you to check our website on Disaster Management. Please let us know your views;


LETS TOGETHER CREATE A SAFER WORLD FOR US AND OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Writer

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

NEED FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Natural Disasters are very frequent this days and it brings immense loss to lives and property. Not only that, it brings along with it unforgottable trauma, which ever remains memorable in the minds of the people. So, we should have pre-disaster managment policies to tackle this types of situations before, so that precious lives of our brothers and sisters of our planet can be saved in advance. I have tried to create a website only on Disaster management, where contributions from readers in the form of articles, letters are requested, so that we can put it on the website. In case, you have experienced a disaster, please do forward your experience in our e-mail address. Your experience can save the lives of some one else, facing similar situations in some other part of the world. Below is given an article on disasters and at the last, our website address. Please do have a look into it.

COSTS OF DISASTERS

From a rampage of broken houses, a child came out crying, with blood in her face. As the drops of blood poured down, drop by drop from that innocent soul, she suddenly discovered that she has become an orphan. With her tiny hands, she removed the bricks, to search her mom and dad. But Alas! they have become dearer to God. She has lost everything. From a distance, a soldier came and hold her tiny hands and took her to a shelter; meant for earthquake victims. Thanks to a local non-governmental Organisation. Alone she stood, looking at the horrendous picture of her worst nightmare, that became a reality. Everywhere, one looks, one can see the cries, the pain and the sufferings. She is one among them. A soul vitimized by a deadly richter of 7.2. She is not alone, but hundreds like her lost theirs identity. The question that will always bother her, is : Who is She ? A Child, with just a name. Rest lost in the rubbles of that broken city.

In another part of the world, people are busy, with statistics with pictorial diagrams of the number of deaths and living. News started showing the economic losses the nation had undergone… may be it amounted to 25$ billion, making the costliest disasters ever happened. Aids started to flow from all across of the world, as the news of the catastrophe spreads. But can any count the real value of these disasters? This are the qusetions which will ever remain evergreen. Does anyone has the cost for his/her mother? Does a bereaved mother have a cost for her own son or daughter ? Do a husband or wife have a cost value in terms of money about his/her soulmate. The answer will be obviously negative. Love and its bondings are not costs which can be counted. It’s very true that natural disasters are a potentially serious shock to economy but nevertheless, it is more shocking to lose their loved ones infront of them, in the journey of life. Helpless, they see the horrendous picture of their near and dear ones getting closer to death. The surviours with serious health conditions can see the thin red line existing between them and death, only to succumb to their injuries.

Can the child ever forget the trauma, that she had undergone, at such an early age? Can she ever live a normal life? Well this are the questions, which time can only answer. Time passes by and everyone forgets about the tragedy, only to be written in the pages of history. People forgets it, Media forgets it, Nation forgets it. It still remains fresh in the minds of the victims, who are still fighting to cope with the wildest trauma, they have ever faced in their lives………….

But the story doesnot stop here, History repeats itself,…. again a natural disaster strikes an area —- only to make our brothers and sisters in some other part of the world feel their worst nightmares.

This has made me to launch an website NATURAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT  (http://www.naturaldisastermanagement.com) which will stress the need for pre-disaster management plans and to save the lives much in advance. Experiences of persons, who have seen the disaster and have faced it, will be put on the net, so that, our brothers and sisters in some unknown place can get equipped by those experiences to face the natural disaster, without getting panicked. Policies are made, but i feel that it rarely reaches the masses. When a natural disaster strikes, people get panicked, not knowing what to do to save themselves from that natural disaster, they are prone to and causes secondary disasters. Respected Sir/mam/miss, this is just a honest effort to make our dream of a disaster free world; a success. It’s not just a planet, it’s a home and it’s our duty to save the lives of our brothers and sisters from natural disasters. Then a day will come, when we will together make a beautiful world for all of us, where we all live in peace.

Please do also suggest me about what to include or what modification has to be done, to make the website more intereactive. It’s not my website, but it’s the people’s website. I hope that you will give your valuable suggestions . Thanks a lot for taking your time and reading the letter.

Lets join hands to make a Safer, Stronger , Greener and a Disaster Free World.

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,

Mainak Majumdar

Assistant Director (Disaster Management) in India’s Industry and Business organization at New Delhi

Environmentalist and Specialist in Disaster Management

(Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing)

Disaster Management Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/