Endangered and empowered: Indians in the eyes of Civil Defence and Disaster Management
The relationship between the Indian state and its citizens has been constantly evolving since independence. One of the ways, which illustrates a change in the conceptualization of Indian citizens, is how civilians were and are treated in cases of disasters. In my paper, I will look at the historical trajectory that has led to the recent establishment of the new disaster management framework in India epitomized by new institutions such as the National Disaster Management Authority and the National Institute for Disaster Management. I will touch on the modernist project of developing India through science and technology and based on the study of programmatic documents, historical material and fieldwork; I will explore the link between disaster and citizenship. Whereas the Civil Defence Act 1968 treats civilians as those to be modernised, shuffled around and dominated, the Disaster Management Act 2005 is full of language reminiscent of international development ‘speak’, seeking to demonstrate respect for local knowledge, indigenous technology and the power of community. I am going to explore how this change from a top-down framework to community based disaster management occurred.
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