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Panel discussion on Development Notions and Natural Disasters

Title: “Development Notions and Natural Disasters: Lessons from the Kerala Flood”

Date: 9th September 2018 (Sunday)

Time: 4:30-6:30pm Venue: SOM Auditorium, IIT Bombay

Panelists:

  • Muralee Thummarukudy (The chief of disaster risk reduction, UNEP)
  • N C Narayanan (Professor, CTARA)
  • Moderator: Ranjith Kalyani (Research Scholar, Dept. of HSS, IIT Bombay)

Background:

Last August, we saw Kerala battle the worst natural disaster to ever have occurred in its modern history in the form of floods that bludgeoned many parts of the state. The flood is described as one of the worst since 1924 in Kerala have left over 350 dead and rendered thousands of people homeless. During the weeks of large-scale and unprecedented loss, evacuation and rescue missions, the country could witness how the extraordinary humanitarian efforts and tenacity of the Malayali population rewrote the codes of disaster management that should be studied in its entirety for the decades to come. The ruling government of Kerala along with National Disaster Response Force joined hands with a non-flood-affected population that included the fishermen community to launch massive rescue operations and relief camps all across the affected areas. The rescue and relief mission that amassed support and action from all walks of Indian society and social media laid before us an exemplary model for natural disaster response and coordination. Having said these, it is crucial to foreground and inspect the notions of the 'development model' of the state that might have crucially triggered the extent of loss and destruction. Kerala which chiefly draws its revenue from overseas remittance, housing sector and consumer market are now made to realize the dangers of its fetish for progress and development as their 'growth sectors' have been vanquished by the brutality of this natural calamity. A gross negligence of environmental concerns is now being brought to the forefront by environmental experts in the aftermath of floods. Various government bodies reportedly failed to take timely actions in accordance with the warnings issued by experts on matters related with ecology and environmental sciences. It has consequently resulted in large-scale losses in productive and service sectors of the state. Drawing from its unusual stories of floods, Kerala is now forced to reconstitute its notion of development with the environment as a decisive factor in determining growth and progress. In this light, Charchavedi invites all concerned scientists and engineers of IIT- Bombay to join a discussion that can add sense to our knowledge on disaster management and intellectually promote mechanisms to support the post-disaster reconstruction of the society and its economy. The discussion will also address distinct socio-political specificities of Kerala that could then be considered by a field of experts in institutions like IITs while joining the mission of building the new Kerala. About the Panelists: Muralee Thummarukudy is the Chief of Disaster Risk Reduction in the UN Environment Programme. As an internationally renowned expert on disaster response, he has been involved in post-disaster response and follow-up of almost all major disasters of the twenty-first century, including the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, Cyclone Nargis (Myanmar, 2008), Sichuan Earthquake (China, 2008), Haiti Earthquake (2010) Tohoku tsunami (2011) and floods in Thailand (2011). He has completed Assignments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza Strip, Liberia, Sudan and Rwanda dealing with the environmental impacts of conflicts. Also deployed to China, Japan, Myanmar, Ukraine, Haiti, and Thailand to deal with Disasters. NC Narayanan is a Professor at Department of Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Area (CTARA) at IIT Bombay. His research interest includes Water Policy and Governance,Development Theory,Transdisciplinary Research,Scaling up decentralised PV Solutions, Environment and development (political ecology).