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  Table of Contents 
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 97-99

Disaster management as part of curriculum for undergraduate and postgraduate courses: The Symbiosis model

Integrated Disaster Management Program, Symbiosis Institute of Health Sciences, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication24-Feb-2012

Correspondence Address:
Vijay Deshpande
Symbiosis Institute of Health Sciences (SIHS), A Constituent of Symbiosis International University (SIU), Senapati Bapat Road, Pune - 411 004, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.93197

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From times immemorial disasters in some form or the other have been regularly visiting humankind and humans have been trying to manage these upheavals. Noah's arch is the first such endeavor. The United Nations declared 1990-1999 as International Decade for Disaster Reduction. The Indian Government passed the Disaster Management Act 2005. As a consequence of the Act, the National Disaster Management Authority was setup. All states were given the guide lines for disaster risk reduction. The objective of this article is to get a clearer picture of what various states, educational authorities and international bodies have done and what Symbiosis International University (SIU) has done so far. Inputs from various States of the Indian Union and neighboring countries were studied. The moot question that figured all the time was "Is there a conscious effort to include Disaster Management in the curricula of various courses at the college and university level" and what are the achievements. It was seen that the Central Board for Secondary Education with support from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Human Resource Development and United Nations Development Project have incorporated DM, as part of its frontline curriculum. Most of the Universities in the disaster prone states have enunciated policies for including DM in the curriculum, but palpable results are still awaited. In the SIU, DM has been incorporated in the curriculum and is mandatory for all undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Keywords: Community involvement, disaster Management, government directives, Indian scenario, risk assessment, state response, Symbiosis model

How to cite this article:
Deshpande V. Disaster management as part of curriculum for undergraduate and postgraduate courses: The Symbiosis model. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2011;15:97-9

How to cite this URL:
Deshpande V. Disaster management as part of curriculum for undergraduate and postgraduate courses: The Symbiosis model. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2011 [cited 2022 Oct 5];15:97-9. Available from:

  Introduction Top

"Disaster management" means a continuous and integrated process of planning, organizing, co-ordinating, and implementing measures which are necessary or expedient for: prevention of danger or threat of any disaster mitigation or reduction of risk of any disaster or its severity or consequence s capacity-building; preparedness to deal with any disaster; prompt response to any threatening disaster situation or disaster; assessing the severity or magnitude of effects of any disaster; evacuation, rescue, and relief; rehabilitation and reconstruction. [1]

"Natural hazards will always challenge us. But it us within our power to ensure that poverty does not turn hazards into unmanageable disasters. And it is within our power to join forces, address the immense complexities of disaster reduction, and build a world of resilient communities and nations equipped to counter the adverse impact of natural hazards and related environmental and technological disasters." [2]

Mr. Kofi Annan

(Former UN, General Secretary)

  The Indian Scenario Top

India is a country with diverse hypsographic and climatological conditions. To visualize our national vulnerability, it is pertinent to mention that 70% of the cultivated land is prone to droughts, 60% of the land is prone to earthquakes, 12% to floods, 8% to Cyclones, 85% of the land area is vulnerable to a number of natural hazard and 22 states are categorized as multihazardous states. [3]

The decade 1990-1999 was declared as "International decade for National Disaster Reduction" with a main objective to focus on disaster management planning for prevention, reduction, mitigation, preparedness, and response to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters. [4]

All these disaster management phases are inter-linked and are cyclic - i.e., one phase cannot be effective in isolation of the others. In other words, the phases before an event - prevention, preparedness, and mitigation - are as important as response, recovery, and rebuilding.

The Global Thrust: to reduce the impact of disasters the Hyogo Framework for action 2005, priority-3 United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNIDSR) ensures the "use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels. The key activities toward this goal are (a) information management and exchange, (b) education and training, (c) research, (d) public awareness. [5]

Education for Disaster Management is a trans- disciplinary exercise aimed at developing knowledge, skill, and values at all levels. [6] The Government of India in its X and XI Five year plan document has emphasized the need to enhance knowledge skills and values to reduce the impact of disasters. [7]

In consonance with the National and International objectives of integrating DM in curriculum, the Occupational Safety and Health Environment (OSHE) program was started in 2007 at the Symbiosis International University (SIU), Pune, as a pioneering venture to address this pressing humanitarian need. The ambit of this program was enlarged and it was renamed as Integrated Disaster Management Programme (IDMP) in 2009.

Knowledge management and education can help communities in hazard-prone areas to gain a better grasp of the ways to cope with risks. Knowledge and innovation, education, formal and informal are closely linked to disaster-reduction efforts. Disasters can strike at any time and it is the magnitude of the related impacts that will reflect the level of preparedness and "education" of the exposed country and community. It is now widely agreed that achieving disaster-resilience is essentially a process of using knowledge and of learning at all levels. [8]

Traditionally, India has been reactive in its approach toward disasters with precious resources being spent on relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction. Of late, there has been a major shift in its approach. The focus has shifted to pre-disaster aspects, prevention, mitigation, and preparedness, as it is felt that appropriate mitigation measures can substantially, if not completely, mitigate the impact of disasters. [1]

In ancient India, disaster management finds a mention in Kautilyas Arthashastra as a primary duty of the state. The Government of India, Ministry of Human Resource Development has emphasized the need for integrating disaster management in the existing education system in India. The Government of Andhra Pradesh issued orders to incorporate "Disaster Management" in the Social Sciences Curriculum of junior college and intermediate courses in the state. [9] This is a step toward the dissemination of knowledge on disasters among the student community, which would reach throughout the state, both in rural and urban areas. [10] The Government of Orissa in its resolution dated 4 March 2005 directed the state Education Authorities to "Make Disaster Management a part of the educational system and curricula." [8] Education for disaster reduction cannot be a onetime affair but should be reinforced time and again throughout one's life. [10]

  Symbiosis International University Model Top

In consonance with the National and International objectives, of integrating DM in curriculum, The SIU whose motto is "Vasudevam Kutumbakam" (the world is my family) started a pioneering IDMP in 2009, applicable to all institutes of SIU. The IDMP is a three credit course. Within a period of 18 months, 3734 students have undergone the IDMP.

In Symbiosis, we firmly believe that some of our Disaster management program beneficiaries may have undergone Central Board of Secondary Education training at school earlier, [7] their knowledge and skills will be reinforced by IDMP. Our organization strongly believes in the dictum "Educating a student is educating the parents and the community."

Empowering the younger generation, on the preventive aspects, various services to be rendered, inculcating compassion, a sense of belonging and to take upon one self, the onerous duty of helping the suffering humanity in a disaster, is a desirable outcome of our training.

  The Curriculum Objective Top

IDMP a three credit course is mandatory for all our students, since the program is run only for the undergraduate and postgraduate students, who by themselves are short on time, mandates that the IDMP be intense. An examination is held at the end of the program to ascertain the levels of assimilation.

Objectives of Integrated Disaster Management Programme:

  • Ensure awareness on the nature and type of disasters
  • Management of the three phases of as disaster
  • Designing a disaster management plan
  • Rescue operations
  • Evacuation drills
  • Accident prevention and safety measures
  • Environmental laws rules and audits
  • Occupational health and occupational diseases
  • Fire Fighting tutorial and demonstration
  • Handling medical emergencies
  • Hands on training cardio-pulmonary-resuscitation
  • American Heart Association (AHA) card for students who excel in first aid
  • AHA card has a validity of 2 years

Experience in the conduct of Integrated Disaster Management Programme

To achieve desirable bonding of the program with the students and faculty of the various institutes, it is mandatory that the preconceived notion of looking at IDMP as an additional learning burden, which does not relate to the structure of courses that these institutions run, be done away with at the earliest. The availability of qualified teachers to conduct the interactive sessions is a matter of prime concern. In spite of the constraints, the manner in which IDMP is executed at SIU has over a period of time enabled the faculty and students to realize that this is an essential tool for building self confidence, knowledge, aptitude, and survival skills, which will make our students leaders of men, be held in high esteem and become an asset to the community.

  Conclusion Top

The high vulnerability of our country necessitates more attention to the omnipresent problem of Disaster Management. Integrating Disaster Management in the curricula of schools colleges and universities will make available a ready force of educated youth, who can address this problem with their knowledge, self confidence, and survival skills. Though a Top down execution of Disaster Management by the Government will take time, a proactive Down up approach by all teaching institutions will enable this nation to mitigate if not completely do away damage by disasters this will also enable this country to be in the forefront of Disaster Management. This SIU model has over a short period of time enabled all educational institutes of this university address this national goal.

  References Top

1.Available from: Handbook for community counselor trainer. Kilpauk, Chennai: Academy for Disaster Management Planning & Training ADEPT; 09 Feb 2009.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Annan K. Former UN Secretary General, April 2000. Guiding the United Nations 2007. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing; 2007.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Geological Survey of India, IS-1893 (Part I), Kanpur: IIT, BIS; 2002.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.An International Decade for National Disaster Reduction -UN, General Assembly Resolution 44/236, 22 Dec 1989.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Hyogo Framework for Action and it implications for Disaster Management. Hyogo, Japan: UNISDR; 18-22 Jan 2005.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Disaster Management & Education in India. Available from:   Back to cited text no. 6
7.Government of India Plan X and XI Five Year Plan. Available from:   Back to cited text no. 7
8.Rouhban B. Knowledge Management and education for Disaster Reduction. France: UNESCO; 2010.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Available from: Management now part of Curriculum in schools & colleges in Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad; 2010.   Back to cited text no. 9
10.Available from: of Orissa Revenue Department. Bhubaneswar; Resolution 04 Mar 2005.  Back to cited text no. 10

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