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Learning to manage disasters

A programme at IP University uses a blend of technology, law and governance to train professionals to deal with calamities reports Vimal Chander Joshi

education Updated: Jun 23, 2010 09:21 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi

Floods, earthquakes, fires... India has had many disasters to cope with. To mitigate the losses and to combat such crises, the demand for disaster management professionals has been on the rise in this country and elsewhere. With the Disaster Management Act coming in force in 2005, these professionals gained even more prominence. Taking cognizance of this fact, the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University started an MBA in disaster management in the same year.

“After the mayhem caused by the Gujarat earthquake in 2001 and the tsunami in southern parts of India (in 2004); we deliberated over the academic and research contribution an educational institute could provide. That was the time when this idea germinated,” says Dr Amarjeet Kaur, programme in-charge, MBA (disaster management).

The programme is open only to individuals who have experience in the field. There are a lot of areas that come under the umbrella of disaster management.

Hence, professionals can look for lucrative avenues in various sectors. The current batch has officers from the Indian Army, Ministry of Home Affairs, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Delhi Fire Service, and even the President’s office. However, this sort of student profile shouldn’t discourage anyone from applying. Anyone with a year’s experience in this sector can submit an application.

The officers-cum-students study over weekends between 9 am to 4.30 pm and find this commitment worthwhile. “Though I am not meant to handle any crises (in my current job at the President’s secretariat) but being an officer of state services of Rajasthan, I will go back and might need this knowledge. We tend to attend small workshops organised by the government for its officers, but they normally lack in-depth study, which only a university’s degree can offer,” says Sharad Mehra, an officer on special duty at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Another officer
B Bhamathi, additional secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, commends the programme for the wide mix of students it attracts. This heterogeneity, she says, ensures interactive learning.

For example, in the present batch students are picking up technical skills and knowledge from an army officer who holds an MTech degree. There are officers who have worked on actual disasters and are familiar with the practical problems encountered in rescue operations. There is an officer who watched aghast as mismanagement unfolded after the Gujarat earthquake. Another student directly worked on the rescue and relief operations after the 2004 tsunami.

It’s an interdisciplinary programme with topics including the environment, law, technology and management.

“It’s important to view the subject of disaster management from varied angles, including loss of technology or local ecology that a disaster can trigger. For example, when two major earthquakes hit Haiti and Chile this year, the former’s quantum of human loss was much more while the intensity of earthquake was relatively lower. The big difference was the poor building norms followed in Haiti. It’s important to be sensitised to these things to mitigate the loss as much as we can,” says CR Garg, deputy inspector general, Tihar Jail.

Exams comprise four theory papers and two practical tests every semester.

Admission to this weekend course is currently open and one can buy the forms from the Punjab & Sind Bank, IP University campus branch, by paying Rs 1,000 in cash. Closing date for accepting forms is July 10.

Fact File
Programme:
MBA (disaster management)
How to apply: Buy the form (costs Rs 1000) from the Punjab & Sindh Bank, University campus branch
Last date to apply: July 10
Eligibility: One year’s work experience in a related field after graduation. Acceptance depends on an interview