‘Good’ Time for Disaster: The Importance of Temporality in Governance Thinking
In this chapter, I look at why certain Indian states have well-functioning disaster preparedness, whereas others do not. I analyse the ‘success story’ of disaster governance in the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry. I look at how two recent disasters—the Indian Ocean Tsunami (2004) and cyclone Thane (2011)—shaped its priorities and approaches to disaster risk and facilitated the development of various tools of disaster preparedness among state as well as non-state actors. Furthermore, the chapter explores the opportunities that were presented through these events. Was it a matter of the ‘good’ timing of disaster? To answer this question, I explore the proliferation of technologies as well as the developments of the various tools of disaster preparedness that have been implemented on the ground. How is Puducherry different from other Indian states, which have been much slower in implementing new disaster management policies prescribed by New Delhi? In search of the answer, I take a closer look at the common and widely shared narrative about the reactive Indian population. The findings are based on my field research in 2012 and 2013, as well as the analysis on anthropology of disasters and science and technology studies.
KeywordsPuducherry, India Disaster governance Tsunami Cyclone Empowerment Social inclusion
The data presented in this chapter was collected during fieldwork for the ERC-funded ‘Organizing Disaster: Civil Protection and the Population’ project (263731). I would like to extend my gratitude to my informants as well as all people and institutions that have supported my work, especially the National Institute of Disaster Management, the Pondicherry University and the French Institute of Pondicherry. I would also like to thank the editors of this book for their patient guidance which provided me with a sense of direction. Moreover, I would like to express my appreciation of the insightful comments of my colleagues Dr. Michael Guggenheim and Dr. Joe Deville.
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