Institutional Response to Disasters: Changing Contours of the Role of an...
Institutional Response to Disasters: Changing
Contours of the Role of an Academic Institution
In developing countries like India, academic institutions of higher learning can
contribute to disaster and rehabilitation in a variety of ways. This article attempts
to capture the experiences of one such institute and its involvement in disaster sit-
uations over five decades. The changing contours of the role played by an aca-
demic institution and the gradual upscaling of its work illustrates how higher
education and innovations in pedagogies can promote value orientation in the
learning process, promote critical thinking and contribute to social development.
The modalities of this involvement, the nature of tasks performed and the lessons
learnt are discussed from the stand point of a social science institute imparting
post-graduate education in practice-based profession of social work.
Dr. Janki Andharia is Professor and Head, Department of Urban and Rural
Community Development, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
Significance of a University's Interaction with External Environment
Higher education is expected to produce benefits for society in the
form of political, economical and cultural advancement. For individu-
als, education should lead to personal development, economic oppor-
tunities and rich satisfaction. However, in India, there is little
realisation that higher education is the key to development in the
country (Reddy, 1995). In contemporary globalising context, the
complexity of the role of higher education is compounded as the no-
tion of development itself is being challenged by scholars as it gets
appropriated by organisations with differing or even conflicting agen-
das (Sachs, 1999). There is no doubt that university systems have a
crucial role to play as agents of change, especially in a country aspir-
ing structural changes through democratic means. The two Govern-
ment of India documents, The Challenge of Education
National Policy on Education
(India, 1992), lay emphasis on how the
294 Janki Andharia
university system interacts with its external environment. In the con-
text where rigidity of education systems has been criticised and un-
changing and inflexible curricular structures precludes creative
engagement or responses to the social reality, the work of the Tata In-
stitute of Social Sciences (TISS) presents some possibilities.
Most academic institutions of higher learning are well endowed in
talent. Social science institutions seek to impart values and in several
of the institutes or colleges of social work in India, the programme re-
flects a strong developmental focus. Social work education
endeavours to provide professional skills to work on development
concerns and problems of the poor and the vulnerable.
Higher education, especially social work education, focuses on
values which go beyond information and knowledge and prepares a
student for appropriate application for community building, for hu-
man well-being and for developing skills and discretion about chan-
nelling our efforts in certain directions (University Grants
Commission, 1980). The directions are many, ranging from efficient
service delivery, capacity building, to bringing about fundamental
changes in entitlement patterns of the marginalised sections of society
through a process of capacity building and empowerment. Thus, so-
cial work students contribute to a large development sector especially
in countries like India.
The process of conceptualising and practising development inter-
ventions with due analysis, commitment and sensitivity has always
been a challenge. Academics with strong field linkages possess the in-
tellectual rigour and training to contribute to social work education in
meaningful ways. In transmitting values, the teacher and his/her ca-
pacities in the field, the institution's stand over development concerns
play a very important role.
This article focuses on the process of engagement of TISS as an ac-
ademic institution, in disasters and how it has contributed to disaster
management initiatives at the local level as well as at the state and na-
tional levels. The participation in relief and rehabilitation itself is used
systematically as a pedagogic tool, an opportunity to learn and to
teach students pursuing a Master's programme in social work. In the
context of education, the way curriculum is designed and handled re-
flects a moral and political stand point about the kind of a society we
are and what we want to make it. Enlightened teachers recognise that
curriculum planning is a complex process and the social, political and
economic context in which we teach are of significance. Therefore,
Institutional Response to Disasters
the value-addedness of education and its institutions must be ac-
Further, social work educators' capacities in the field, their rela-
tionship with people, with organisations, with students and faculty
colleagues are very critical in transmitting values. Similarly, the ethos
within the schools of social work, its stand over issues that affect the
constituencies that it seeks to identify itself with, all play a very im-
portant role in reflecting a value system. Therefore, in practice profes-
sions such as social work, it is the engagement with the field, with the
external environment, that enables us to determine the trajectory of
our curriculum and creates an institutional legitimacy to teach a sub-
ject or a substantive topic.
Interventions in Disasters: Institutional Response
To indigenise social work is to focus on our work/practice. Social
work in India has continuously responded to demands emerging from
the field and the diverse development agendas that social workers are
committed to, both in teaching and in practice. This grounding in so-
cial realities is reflected in the dynamic and creative interaction main-
tained with social and development issues of the country. Responding
to calamities is among some of the unique features of social work edu-
cation in India, which is non-existent in the West.
From a small beginning in 1936, the TISS has grown into -a
Deemed University with 19 Departments and Units housing about
100 faculty members and 300 post-graduate students. Its explicit ef-
forts have been to serve the needs of the society through social science
research, education, training and field action (TISS, 2001a). In pio-
neering social work education, the Directors and the faculty members
of this Institute have strived to achieve excellence through a dynamic
curriculum focussing on critical social analysis and development
practice. The action orientation of the academic institute is revealed in
various ways, one of which is its role in national disasters. Re-
sponding to fellow humans in need has been a basic humanitarian
value of social work.
Disasters in developing countries like India, demand quick deploy-
ment of person power for rescue and relief. This calls for resources
both material and non-material. In the absence of a national disaster
management policy, the state government, the armed forces and
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are known to have worked
to meet the challenges posed by emergency situations. In addition to
296 Janki Andharia
these, academic institutions of higher learning can also contribute in a
variety of ways as it has a ready force of committed persons, students,
staff and faculty members who work as volunteers in disaster relief
work. Table 1 attempts to capture the Institute's involvement in
post-disaster relief and rehabilitation over the last 30 years or so. It is
evident from Table 1 that the Institute has worked not just in
Maharashtra, but various parts of the country. This participation em-
bodies and signifies both voluntarism and professional responsive-
ness on part of a social science institute.
For TISS, the work as Community Participation Consultant to the
Government of Maharashtra after the Latur earthquake was qualita-
tively different from the involvement in other disasters and, therefore,
discussed briefly in Appendix I.
METHODOLOGICAL APPROACH: USING DEVELOPMENT
KNOWLEDGE IN DISASTERS
Administrative Aspects and Institutional Preparations
While each disaster is unique and circumstances within the Institute
do vary in each instance, in the past, our response has been to the gov-
ernment's general plea to the nation for assistance. It requires mobili-
sation of material and human resources. A faculty meeting is
convened by the Director and preparations begin.
A pilot team liases with the Chief Minister's office to determine the
logistics of the relief exercise, the role of volunteers and areas where
the teams should be deployed. In the 1970s and 1980s, work was often
through the district administration. In recent decades with the prolif-
eration of the voluntary sector and international aid agencies, local
NGOs have become significant players in relief operations. They too
need person power and volunteers, especially trained or semi-trained..
A pilot team of faculty members make the necessary contacts and ar-
rangements for student volunteers, identifying the broad areas of
work and assessing the need in the field. For example, during the riots
in Mumbai, the work was carried out under the leadership of the Gov-
ernor. During the Orissa supercyclone, Action Aid provided local
support and the teams worked closely with the Collector,
A team at the Institute works on the necessary adjustments in the
academic calendar in collaboration with students', Employees' Un-
ions and the Staff Club. This may result in the postponement of
TABLE 1: Overview of TISS Involvement in Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation
Location and Year
Number of Students,
Nature of Involvement
West Bengal, 1971-72
30 students and
Organising of refugee camps; recruiting of
Four to six
volunteers, and streamlining aid
20 students and
Distributing cattle feed and medical aid;
Two to three
spraying micro-nutrients on standing crop;
and assisting drought migrants in Mumbai
20 students and
Three to four
Initiating peace process and relief work
47 students and
Relief work in affected area
31 students and
Morvi, Gujarat, 1980
Coordinating and undertaking relief work
35 students and
One month in
Relief work in affected area
Coordinating and undertaking relief work;
10 faculties and staff
financial assistance to the affected; and
reconstruction of houses
Location and Year
Number of Students,
Nature of Involvement
130 students and
Identifying of victims and affected persons
Six weeks in
and assistance in rehabilitation planning
25 students and
Identifying affected persons and initiating
January 2, 1987
and coordinating relief
40 students and
Channelling material and medical aid;
damage assessment and coordinating relief
40 students and
Identifying affected people; coordinating
Four weeks in
disbursement of compensation paid in
north-east Bombay; reconstruction of houses;
and assisting victims in legal and police
Identifying affected persons; surveying the
Eight to ten
20 faculties and
damage; determining and developing
rehabilitation parameters; conducting impact
studies; coordination of relief distribution,
and so on
Dept. Of URCD and
Community Participation Consultants to
field staff of 10
Institutional Response to Disasters
examinations, shortening of vacations or working later through week-
ends and holidays. This overwhelming spirit of cooperation witnessed
during this period ensures that student examinations and the academic
schedule are not greatly disturbed. Sometimes relief work is treated as
part of field work or rural camp or block field work. This is especially
so when the involvement extends beyond relief to include damage as-
sessment surveys as was the case after the Bhopal gas tragedy and the
Teams of volunteers also work on resource mobilisation, on organ-
ising railway tickets and preparing for working in disaster-hit areas.
Immunisation against likely epidemics is made compulsory for vol-
unteers, especially for flood relief work.
To prepare students and volunteers for the work in the area, brief
orientation meetings and workshops are conducted by experienced
faculty members. The responsibility of faculty members is high and
all this requires a great deal of coordination and a capacity to work to-
gether as a team.
In the Field: Nature of
What is expected in the field can never be predicted, but here too,
carving out tasks for students, ensuring that the volunteer teams play a
meaningful role in relief work is a challenge. Managing the teams,
keeping up the morale, and inspiring them through all the apparent
chaos and confusion can be exhausting and requires a high degree of
maturity, sensitivity to field realities and interpersonal skills. In short,
all the qualities of a social worker are tested in various situations. It is
always heartening to observe students' commitment and responsibil-
ity in the field.
In providing field support, generally, the following structure is fol-
lowed with some variation, depending on the context:
• Usually students work in villages in small groups of 2-10, de-
pending on the size of the villages.
« If the number of volunteers is large, two camps are set up.
• Students either stay in the village of their operation or are trans-
ported from Base Camps to the villages every day, depending
on the local situation.
• Each team or group of students works under the broad guidance
of a faculty member who keeps in touch with the overall coordi-
300 Janki Andharia
The kind of tasks performed by students are illustrated in Table 1.
A student is placed in a situation where he/she must respond and this
entails decision-making, team work and sometimes close collabora-
tion and consultation with NGOs and the local population. Appendix
II provides a summary of tasks performed by the TISS team of volun-
teers in the Gujarat earthquake. It is evident that these tasks demand
analysis and sensitivity on part of the students. At the end of our in-
volvement in a disaster, implications for public policy have always
been drawn and taken up with the state.
Our work has been commended by local people, commu-
nity-based organisations (CBOs), NGOs, district officials, State
Secretaries and some of the Chief Ministers and Governors. The rea-
sons for our effectiveness are varied. Apart from the general ethos of
reaching out and helping the victims, social work as a profession al-
ready possesses the tools/techniques and the methods of working
with people. Application or the use of these during post-disaster re-
lief and rehabilitation with appropriate sensitivity proves to be an in-
herent asset. Schools of social work have demonstrated this in
various calamities such as Bhopal, Latur and more recently in
Gujarat where the role of social work institutes and colleges has
been appreciated. In response, the demand from NGOs for employ-
ing social workers in rehabilitation work has also been rising.
The insights gained into institutional functioning and administra-
tive decision-making are very significant in enabling social workers
to produce operationally usable knowledge on the one hand and on
the other, to translate these insights into appropriate curriculum in
social work education. During disasters, development knowledge,
the entire experience of working with people, insights into the func-
tioning of government bureaucracies and the ability to provide di-
rection to student volunteers comes into play in very significant
Gradually, this involvement in disasters has led to the upscaling of
the Institute's activities in rehabilitation work and providing policy
inputs. This expansion of work has been discussed in the last section
on the changing role of the Institute.
Some Institutional Prerequisites
Experiences within TISS, suggest that if academic institutions are to
get involved in disaster relief work, it requires some critical factors.
These institutional prerequisites are summarised below:
Institutional Response to Disasters
Institutional Support and Flexibility
• The top leadership must be positively inclined to the participa-
tion of its staff and students in disasters, A certain amount of
risk is present and it is the institutional culture and ethos that de-
termines the extent of participation.
• Facilitating rescheduling/changes in academic calendar.
• Temporary reorganisation of work-priorities of those who vol-
Faculty Initiative and Commitment
• Teachers must be role models, especially in practice-professions
such as social work. Teachers must be willing to take initiative
and assume field responsibilities.
• Capacity for hard work is essential. Teachers often get used to a
certain set of working hours and a lifestyle. Disaster situation
requires a capacity to 'rough it out' and to survive in difficult
living conditions. Willingness to work beyond 'duty hours' is
Development Knowledge and Sensitive Intervention
In a developing country like India, understanding how poverty,
vulnerability and implementation of government policies and
programmes intertwine to perpetuate exploitative conditions is
critical for effective outreach.
• A capacity for fieldwork is vital. This includes planning, liaising,
organising and 'thinking on your feet'. Teachers can demonstrate
these only if they have strong and positive links with institutions,
an ongoing interface, as part of their work, Teachers engaged
only in classroom teaching are likely to be less effective.
Capacity for Resource Mobilisation
• This depends largely on credibility that institutions and faculty
• Once the positive role of an academic institution is established, re-
sources are offered by well-wishers, even without seeking them.
Capacity to Work Together
• Within academic institutions, teachers and staff members must
have a capacity for team work.
302 Janki Andharia
• This initiative requires tremendous coordination skills among
• A range of preparatory work is called for (as mentioned earlier,
immunisation, railway bookings, student workshops, faculty
workshops, and so on).
• The team's or students' performance of an administrative task
requires positive interpersonal skills which are subject to as-
sessment by direct observation by other stakeholders.
This is not an exhaustive list but merely an indicative one of the na-
ture of preparedness that is called for. The next section underlines the
pedagogical significance of student participation in disaster-related
PEDAGOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE: STUDENTS' LEARNING
Linking Disasters and Development
Enhancing student learning in the field is a very complex task. Drawing
critical linkages between development and disasters is one of the most
crucial learnings which precludes most technical experts who are called
in to provide emergency aid. For example, although the disaster is a
great leveller, the caste and class dynamics became very visible and do
operate. Absence of social infrastructure, marginalisation of remote vil-
lages, the absence of maps showing locations of settlements — all of
which are development issues that impinge upon relief and rehabilita-
tion processes. The gaps in government proclamations and ground real-
ities are also better understood in the field, through listening to people,
their own experiences and through an effort to reach out. Further, the
powerful role that media can play in communication, in advocacy, and
in building public opinion is emphasised in social work education and
often borne out in disaster situations.
Disasters cannot be viewed solely as emergencies. Recognising
that the magnitude of disasters is an outgrowth of underdevelopment
and poverty, which in turn are the root of vulnerability, is a realisation
that comes from actual experiences in the field. Students learn by ex-
periencing the demands of the situation. When they are in the village
they have to begin work from where the community is and get in-
volved in whatever is demanded by the situation. Faculty members
guide this process and activities could range from extricating bodies
to distributing relief to preparing lists of what is required arid organis-
ing for it. Locating villages, preparing maps and providing them to
Institutional Response to Disasters
Relief Commissioners in the districts (as in the Orissa supercyclone)
and organising activities for children in hospitals (in Kachchh,
Gujarat earthquake) are development functions that volunteers can
Further, involvement in disaster relief always means that students
and faculty stay together, under difficult conditions, and this very ex-
perience of living and working together, besides bringing them closer,
also promotes values of team work and cooperation. In fact, it sensi-
tises students to human conditions in crises. When students meet as a
group during late evenings or interact with faculty members, typically
intense and animated discussions take place about:
• The state of development of the region (absence of roads, ab-
sence of access to basic facilities such as drinking water, ade-
quate housing and livelihood systems, ration cards, corruption
— all of which pose major constraints in distribution of relief
and damage assessment).
• The human spirit and capacity to cope with adversities.
• The micro-macro linkages and policy weaknesses.
• Aid — its appropriateness, its administration and its politics.
• The value of networking and the difficulties posed by organisa-
• People who exploit, even disaster situations.
Participation in disaster relief leads to crucial insights, as social
and political dynamics become visible. Guiding both discussions and
interventions through these complex field realities is not easy and
teachers have a challenging task. Understanding students' difficulties
and continuously assessing the nature of tasks in the field and the effi-
ciency with which they are performed, is crucial in order to be rele-
vant and effective.
At the end of every involvement in a disaster, implications for pub-
lic policy have always been drawn and taken up with the state.
Finally, when the students return to the Institute, a workshop is organ-
ised to share experiences and consolidate the learning. Invariably
each one speaks about how participation in disaster relief has touched
them in very deep and personal ways. Substantive anecdotal evidence
is presented to illustrate this.
Learning about People and their Strengths
Effective small group teaching, according to Newble and Cannon
(1989), requires active participation, face-to-face contact and purposeful
304 Janki Andharia
activity. All these are inherent in post-disaster work. In review work-
shops, students typically mention the following which constitute insights
gained about people and their strengths.
• People's resilience and coping strategies are highlighted. Every
disaster has demonstrated that people who are severely affected,
but possess resilience, a capacity to carry on and emerge as
stronger human beings.
• Similarly, although literature on development emphasises that
people do not panic or get hysterical in the face of crisis, to actu-
ally see and hear from them, what actions they actually took, is
truly a learning experience for most students.
• Understanding the extent of local mobilisation, of community
participation, dispels the myth that people are helpless. Year af-
ter year, students talk about how they had presumed that people
must be helpless and waiting for outsiders to come and assist
them. For students and other volunteers, it is always a matter of
great pride that our fellow human beings, in their own way, had
started picking up the threads of their lives and had already be-
gun salvaging, temporarily reconstructing, and coping with the
• A significant extent of community bonding and solidarity is evi-
dent, especially during rescue operations, and people talk about
the help, the support and mutuality experienced during the
• Students always reflect on how it has enhanced their under-
standing of the meaning of 'providing emotional support' and
what being a good listener actually entails. For example, during
the relief period, students invariably come across people who
report that even after 15-20 days, they (the students) were the
first people to have come and inquired after them. Others, if they
had reached had merely dumped relief material and left. In some
villages people also report that nothing had reached. Coming
face to face with the pain and sufferings which are very raw and
very real enables students to understand the value of being a
good listener or the meaning of providing emotional support to
• Sometimes the hospitality of the affected population is to be ex-
perienced to be believed. For example a week after the Gujarat
earthquake a group was in Chobari, a village where over a 1,000
people had died. We met a 50-year old lady in the midst of a pile
Institutional Response to Disasters
of rubble, retrieving what she could and when some members
spoke to her, they found that she had lost two of her young
daughters. At the end of a 40 minute conversation, she offered
the group mava
(milk cake), that they make as a pastoral com-
munity, for sale. And as the group was leaving, on asking
whether she needed anything, she politely declined. A woman
standing in the middle of what was once her house and every-
thing around her destroyed, and could still say, 'I don't need
anything', reflected a spirit that was very inspiring to the group.
Such encounters during relief work touch the volunteers in very
fundamental ways and while it is depressing to see the extent of
devastation, what is learnt about the human spirit during disas-
ter relief work, no amount of engineered fieldwork can ever
The centrality of people in interventions is a basic principle that
needs to be translated into all relief and rehabilitation programmes.
Knowledge about society, understanding systemic issues and political
dynamics are almost always better comprehended in real life contexts
than through classroom lectures. Within social work education, the
field work component is based on this very principle. One of the alumni
lucidly recounts, 'As students, we often criticised the Institute for its
various shortcomings, particularly what we saw as its "pro-
establishment positions". All this changed after our involvement in riot
relief work. The spontaneous act of the Institute and what we saw of our
faculty members during those days, the way they interacted with the
bureaucracy and local people, the way they managed all the dynamics,
reaffirmed our faith in the human will to act, faith that sensitive and
conscientious people within a system can make a difference to society!'
The field poses major challenges, presents vast pedagogical oppor-
tunities and the skill with which these are handled by teachers, reflects
their capacity to work with diverse systems — their own university
systems and the systems within the government. The teacher's ability
to inspire, innovate and uphold quality education are reflected in these
THE CHANGING CONTOURS OF THE INSTITUTE'S ROLE
Higher education is expected to contribute to national development
through dissemination of specialised knowledge and skills. Being at
the apex of the educational pyramid, these institutions should be dy-
namic and constantly entering unchartered areas.
306 Janki Andharia
Over the decades, the regular involvement of TISS in national disas-
ters had translated into enriching the curriculum at the MA level. For
example, the TISS introduced a course on Disaster Management at the
MA level in the 1980s within its social work programme. Participation
in disaster relief has also resulted in faculty members contributing to
training and documentation. They are also invited to serve on expert
committees of the government and providing policy support.
This reflects the changing dimensions of the role that educational
institutions of higher learning can play. In many of the academic insti-
tutions, policy support, especially with a focus on the vulnerable, has
been emerging as an important area of contribution by social work ed-
Its appointment as Community Participation Consultant to the
Government of Maharashtra (1993-1997) in the World Bank aided
rehabilitation programme was a result of its involvement in relief
work. The Institute took up this responsibility as a field action project.
Contribution to rehabilitation policy and facilitating participatory
methods in implementation were key highlights of this World Bank
aided programme of the government after the Latur quake of
Similarly, after the Gujarat earthquake of 2001, a group of students
were placed with Bidada and Bhojai hospitals in Kachchh district.
Other groups worked in villages through local NGOs (Appendix II).
Impressed with the nature of student and faculty inputs, the Trustees
of the hospital are pursuing the idea of setting up a social work train-
ing institute in the region with TISS support. Similarly, the Govern-
ment of Gujarat has approached TISS for a more proactive role in
monitoring the social aspects of rehabilitation work. Several of the
faculty members continue to provide programmatic and monitoring
support to hospitals, NGOs and corporates involved in rehabilitation
work in Gujarat. In fact, the demand is far beyond the capacity of the
Institute to respond.
In addition to the above, faculty members are invited to serve as
experts on disaster management bodies in the country. Similarly, at
the request of the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, TISS
has recently prepared an 'Approach Paper on Community Participa-
tion in Disaster Management'. '
As one of the oldest social work education Institutes in the country,
at the TISS, training and extension are interwoven with the teach-
ing-training programme. Various training programmes have been
Institutional Response to Disasters
organised by several Departments and Units of the Institute for NSS
coordinators, for NGO personnel and for corporates. University
Grants Commission Refresher Courses for teachers, films on disaster-
related themes, focus on trauma counselling and monitoring social as-
pects of rehabilitation are the newer areas of contribution. Apart from
the reports and manuals produced for specific rehabilitation projects,
documentation of the work of academic institutions is attempted by
The Indian Journal of Social Work
in bringing out special issues on
the subject of disasters and through papers presented at seminars and
workshops. The Government of India has also commissioned projects
to document relief and rehabilitation activities.
What is evident from the above is a gradual upscaling of the Insti-
tute's involvement from providing relief support as volunteers and
carrying out damage assessment to providing policy and field action
support to the rehabilitation programmes of the government. The In-
stitute now demonstrates an institutional capacity for training, re-
search and policy support, which it further seeks to consolidate
through the establishment of a full-fledged Centre or Department of
Disaster Management. The contours of the Institute's role has been
changing in response to the needs of the country's field realities.
There are a variety of ways in which an academic institution can re-
spond in disaster situations and enhance the relevance of its curricu-
lum as well as the educational process. According to Rao (1998: 66),
one of the goals of education is to 'provide a climate for the nurture of
values, both as a personalised set of values forming one's character
including necessarily, social, cultural and rational values, so as to
have a context and meaning for actions and decisions in order to en-
able persons to act with conviction and commitment'. This ac-
tion-oriented teaching has been a strength in institutions of higher
learning that are regarded as centres of excellence. The TISS has con-
tinuously worked towards making itself relevant and accountable to
society without compromising on academic integrity.
In a classroom, the traditional lecture-centric approach is 'you
learn what we offer', while in the field, the approach is 'you learn
what you can, what you are capable of and we facilitate'. The teacher,
in fact, has a particular responsibility and is not merely 'an accompa-
nying person'. While the patterns and styles of functioning may vary,
the teacher becomes an important role model and facilitator, and
308 Janki Andharia
his/her enthusiasm and involvement impinges on students' motiva-
tion and learning. Therefore, it is important that the teacher feels com-
fortable with the field, that is, with people, with communities, with
NGOs and with the bureaucracy — all of who are important stake-
Reddy (1995) has stressed that universities and institutions of
higher education need to prepare a cadre of leaders with appropriate
attitudes and professional competence to initiate a process of change.
They should possess the 'sensitivity to comprehend and anticipate the
changing social reality and cultivate a dynamism within its organic
whole which can make its responses quick and effective.'
The TISS has endeavoured to work in this direction and the role
that an academic institution can play is sought to be illustrated in this
article. Such participation in disasters creates an institutional environ-
ment that effectively promotes a value orientation in the learning pro-
cess, stimulating critical thinking. Education can, thus, play an
interventionist and catalytic role in facilitating change and promoting
Association of Commonwealth Universities: Roles and
India: Ministry of Human
National Policy on Education, 1986: Programme of Ac-
New Delhi: Department of Education.
Newble, D. and Cannon, R. A Handbook for Teachers in Universities and Colleges,
New York: Kogan Page.
National Policy on Education, Towards an Enlightened
and Humane Society,
New Delhi: Discovery Publishing
Higher Education in India: Conformity, Crisis and Inno-
New Delhi: Sterling Publishers.
London: Zed Books.
Tata Institute of
Self-Study Report for the NAAC,
Institutional Response to Disasters
TISS Participation in Gujarat Quake: A Report for the
Governing Board Meeting, Mumbai.
Review of Social Work Education in India: Retrospect
APPENDIX I: TISS Involvement in Latur Quake (1993)
The work of TISS in this disaster was qualitatively different and entailed a higher de-
gree of involvement primarily because the TISS Rural Campus (RC) is located at
Tuljapur, 40 kms from Sastur, one of the most seriously affected villages in
Osmanabad district. Our RC staff were among the first to reach the earth-
quake-affected villages in the district. During the relief phase, the Institute was en-
gaged in a range of activities on its own initiative for a period of four months. These
Phase I: Relief Work (4 Months)
• Panchanama work done with local officials.
• Survey covering over 34,000 households in 69 seriously affected villages.
• Damage assessment data analysis and report writing and producing village-wise
• Assisting District Collectors in NGO coordination work.
• Direct involvement in Rajegaon village where Tata Relief Committee was rebuild-
ing houses and community infrastructure.
Over 200 volunteers worked for 20 days and participated in the survey and
Panchanama work. Faculty members from the Mumbai Campus and RC staff contin-
ued the work.
Phase II: Community Participation Consultant (3 Year Project)
In the reconstruction and rehabilitation phase, the Institute was engaged by the
Government of Maharashtra as Community Participation Development Consultant to
facilitate the participatory processes in economic and social rehabilitation in 52 vil-
lages selected for relocation. The project was aided by the World Bank. This involve-
ment lasted for a 3 year period. The project was managed by the Department of Urban
and Rural Community Development in TISS, with a field team of 10-15 members
based in Latur and Osmanabad. The activities in this phase were:
• Rapid Appraisals for policy inputs.
• Demonstration and suggestions on participatory implementation of the rehabilita-
tion project of Government of Maharashtra.
• Liaising with construction consultants and village level committees.
• Trouble shooting in villages especially on issues related to land acquisition, bifur-
cation of villages, and disputes regarding beneficiary lists.
•, Ongoing monitoring and feedback.
The TISS as the community participation consultant was involved in a wide range
of activities: building a strong enabling presence in the field, demonstrating the partic-
ipatory process wherever possible, building the capacities of government and village
level committees as well as monitoring and assessing the rehabilitation programme on
310 Janki Andharia
an on going basis. The consultants were active in a cyclical process of obtaining peo-
ple's views on the various rehabilitation packages, clarifying issues of concern to
them, making periodic recommendations to the government and actively assisting the
state authority in conflict resolution in the villages. All this meant understanding vil-
lage specific problems, issues and social dynamics and working closely with policy
makers at the state and district levels.
After the Latur earthquake, the appointment of TISS as Community Participation
Consultants by the Government of Maharashtra was a landmark which now equips the
Institute with insights, not just in relief, but also in rehabilitation processes.
APPENDIX II: Work of TISS Volunteers in Gujarat
Forty-eight students were placed in 24 sub-centres of the Abhiyan in pairs. Each of the
sub-centres was coordinated by an NGO member of the Abhiyan. Students were
placed across five talukas. A team was also placed with the information desk of the
Abhiyan Information Desk
Dissemination of information on Abhiyan and its role to other local/national/inter-
• Attending the meetings held in Abhiyan and preparing its minutes.
• Updating the data on different sectors like relocation, health, education, and so on.
• Helping the Abhiyan team in making the daily/weekly presentations to the govern-
• Providing the data to all the Sub-centre Coordinators.
• Helped set up the sub-centres of Abhiyan in the villages that were to act as infor-
mation centres for the villagers and as coordinating agents for all rehabilitation ef-
• Conducted a rapid need assessment survey and shared the villagers' views to the
local NGOs for future policy decisions.
• Formed gram samitis
(village committees) for the rebuilding efforts.
• Conducted various de-stressing exercises with the school children.
• Observed the irregularities in the Public Distribution System and relief distribution
and reported it to the concerned authorities for further action.
• Discussed the problems of not possessing ration cards with the district authorities
and presented the villagers' cases.
• Surveyed the sites of watershed management and visually assessed the damage
done to these structures because of the earthquake, and submitted the report on the
same to the local NGOs.
• Started a fodder depot in one sub-centres where there was an acute shortage.
• Convened meetings of the Dalits and other minority groups and noted their
views/problems regarding rebuilding as well as relocation.
Institutional Response to Disasters
• Collected data regarding schools in one taluka and submitted a proposal to funding
agencies through the local NGOs to rebuild schools.
• Helped Save the Children in gathering information about the aanganwadis and su-
pervised the actual setting up of aanganwadis.
• Helped widows in villages and other dependents in understanding the government
forms regarding pension and compensation.
• Meeting government officers to clarify the villagers' doubts regarding govern-
ment policies or to urge them in taking necessary actions.
• Identifying specific problems of the villagers, like those of ration cards, health,
schools, fodder, and so on.
• Conducted a detailed house-to-house survey for a village.
• Undertook social and resource mapping for some villages.
• Initiated the process of organising women into mahila mandals.
• Visited houses of the people where there were deaths due to the earthquake
Save the Children Fund
• Surveyed the present condition of Primary Health Centre (PHCs) and aanganwadis
• Set up tents for aanganwadis and provided all the material required for restarting
its functioning, and talked to the aanganwadis workers.
• Set up tents for PHCs, persuaded doctors to start using them, mobilised and trans-
ported material, including medicines and medical examination equipment needed
to provide health care.
St. Xavier's School
The TISS students carried out play activities and created an enabling environment in
the classroom. This helped children come back to a degree of normalcy. Students con-
ducted short skits, held discussion sessions and took classes. For the senior classes, as-
sistance was provided for subjects such as Maths and Science.
Shree Bidada Sarvodaya Trust
A need assessment survey was carried out in 120 villages in six talukas to assess
the immediate needs of villages and vulnerable groups such as women, children,
the disabled and the elderly.
• Psychosocial assessment of patients with disability was conducted at the Bidada
and Bhojai Hospitals.
Work in the Bidada Hospital
• Supervised group work with women, children and caretakers of patients through
use of recreational activities like games, art and craft.
• Activities like drawing and craft work with children was used on various themes
related to cleanliness, the earthquake and the losses they had incurred. Children
started drawing on various themes given to them. Antakshari, games and game
shows were also organised for the children. This brought all the children together,
which helped them to overcome their fears.
• The women were given the required material to do embroidery work to occupy
themselves and to promote optimism and to identify alternate sources of future em-
312 Janki Andharia
• Brief discussions with caretakers on the burden faced in care giving, coping and fu-
ture plans were held, wherein they were given a forum to address these issues.
• Casework with individual patients and their family members.
• Teamwork with psychologists, homeopaths, and liaisoning for identification and
referral of those with psychological problems. The team also coordinated with the
psychologist and doctors at the hospital and provided feedback received from the
The team at Saurashtra worked with Anandi, an NGO working in several districts of
Gujarat. They undertook work in Maliya taluka of Rajkot, which is a poor taluka, com-
pared to the others. Here, the students undertook the following tasks:
• Conducting a rapid appraisal in 37 villages.
• Analysis of relief received by villagers and identifying gaps in relief.
• Addressing these gaps by informing relevant government authorities of NGOs.
• House mapping and social mapping to initiate rebuilding.
• Conducting gram sabha and mahila meetings to discuss issues related to relief, re-
construction and relocation.
• Working on community dynamics in collaboration with government officials.
• Initiating gender sensitive planning approach for the rehabilitation process by in-
volving women in discussions and working on house maps.
• Information dissemination on government packages to the villagers.
• Conducting health camps in villages in coordination with the Red Cross.
THE INDIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, Volume 63, Issue 2, April 2002