Disaster Preparedness in India

When one thinks of India the mind boggles at the sheer scale of things.

India is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world.

The Indian economy is the world’s tenth-largest by nominal GDP and third largest by purchasing power parity.

India’s arm is the third largest standing army in the world and ranks seventh in military expenditure.

There are 28 states, 7 union territories, two official languages and 22 scheduled languages (a candidate appearing in an examination conducted for public service at a higher level is entitled to use any of these languages as the medium in which he or she answers the paper).

Imagine then managing disaster preparedness in such an environment.

The Supreme Audit Institution of India has recently released a fascinating examination of issues to consider in country wide disaster preparedness.

The report notes:

The world over Disaster Preparedness or Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is becoming the most prominent theme for Disaster Management.  It is not possible to eliminate the possibility of disasters.

However, with due care and proper preparation, the risks and damages from disasters can be reduced considerably.

In this audit, we found that despite considerable progress in setting up institutions and creating funding arrangements, there are critical gaps in the preparedness level for various disasters.

The system which came into effect post the Disaster Management Act of 2005 is yet to achieve its desired impact.

The National Disaster Management Authority which was conceived as the apex planning and supervisory body, was found ineffective in its functioning in most of the core areas.

It neither had information and control over the progress of work at the state level not was it successful in implementation of various projects.

Coordination between NDMA and nodal ministries for various disasters need to be improved.  Roles and responsibilities amongst the apex bodies at the national level need to be clearly specified.

As an aside the NDMA is chaired by the Prime Minister of India.

Whilst this report looks at disaster preparedness at its largest scale all organisations would be well served to review for appropriateness the recommendations contained within.

Download the report here

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