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World Summit on Disaster Management begins in Mumbai, India
Mostafa Kamal Majumder

World Summit on Disaster Management begins in Mumbai, India

Mostafa Kamal Majumder

A world summit on disaster management is being held in Mumbai the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra from 29th of January to the 1st of February. It will have a special media session to share experiences of leading media practitioners specializing in environment and disaster management. I was invited from Bangladesh but am not sure if I can proceed to take the trip to and from Mumbai, because the High Commission of India in Bangladesh has not given me visa although I visited this great neigbouring country of ours for at least half a dozen times and have many good friends in many her cities. I did also host many friends from India to Bangladesh on many occasions during the last three decades in a bid to establish and strengthen people to people contacts and cooperation for mutual benefit of the peoples of this region who share the same natural environment separated by political boundaries into seven countries. Many Indian friends invited me there to share experiences of work on environmental issues problems and ideas. Needless to say we mutually benefitted a lot from each other and this sometimes led to sharing of articles and features.
I wrote quite a number of features on environment and development plus disasters for Down To Earth magazine of the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi in the formative years of the current century. Cyclone Aila was one disaster that DTE wanted me to write on and I complied. I wrote in my story the death toll might be 10000 although, as reported by different international wire services, the authorities were confirming only about a half that number. DTE editors checked with me from New Delhi and I told them to stick to the figure I guesstimated. It was clear that the worst sufferers of Cyclone Aila were caught unawares and their sufferings continue ten years on.
I got introduced to the great Indian visionary environmentalist Anil Agarwal, founder of the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, a decade before at the instance of Daniel Nelson, former editor of Panes Features and Gemini News Service, plus Carmen Miranda, former South Asia director of Panos London, and wrote features for its Down To Earth feature service in the early nineties. Anil Agarwal did not live long and his worthy successor Sunita Narain not only upheld the good name and fame of CSE but also further expanded its activities beyond India to countries like Bangladesh and Nepal. She invited me to a big CSE event in New Delhi and facilitated my coverage of the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002. Afterwards I helped choose journalists for training in environmental journalism at the CSE for a number of years. The trainees have by now become a large group and can help CSE with support services from Dhaka and the rest of Bangladesh.
My friend Atul Deulgaonkar requested me to accept the invitation from Daulat Desai IAS, Director of the Disaster Management Unit of the Maharashtra Government. Daulat Desai IAS took all the trouble to send me covering letters from the central Indian ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs, New Delhi, to make sure that none invited to the event was denied visa on political or similar other grounds. Legendary environmental journalists from Sri Lanka and Nepal and India have been invited to deliberate on in the special media session.
As I tried to organize myself to make a good presentation at the world congress in Mumbai, I was distracted by delivery of my passport without a visa. I did not give up applied again informing the sponsors of the development. This time I sought an early delivery of the passport with visa because the scheduled date of delivery was one day behind the flight schedule fixed by the sponsors and agreed to by me. This time I myself talked to people in the High Commission of India and also requested help from some friends. The passport was delivered on 27 January, two days before the scheduled delivery date, but again without a visa. Atul Deulgaonkar told me they were trying their best to make sure I attend the meet, and I submitted another application for visa on the 28th of the month.
Anyway, going to Bombay was not a big deal to me, but the opportunity to share experiences was. On some occasions in the past I had been on transit to Bombay for my onward journey to other destinations or on way back to my home city, Dhaka. Last time I came back via Bombay I lost a Samsung cell phone which was in an unlocked pocket on by hand baggage that the crew members did not allow me to carry in my hands.
Coming back to the subject, media’s response to disasters shapes up into supportive roles in disaster management. The government set-ups that manage disasters are made up of civil servants doing transferrable jobs. Otherwise efficient executives, they find the role of the media extremely helpful and reaching their messages to their target audience and taking feedbacks from media who interact write interacting with people in disaster-prone areas. Media’s response before and after disasters are of immense benefit to the people, the government and the administration.
In one write-up of mine published in a ‘Cyclone Response Study’ by the Centre for Advances Studies, Dhaka I dwelt on how the press and the media roles were of great benefit to the society before and after the April 29, 1991 Cyclone that had claimed 141000 human lives, despite a better preparedness. That was the strongest cyclone ever to hit Bangladesh. The loss of human life however was more than three times greater in the November 12, 1970 cyclone when preparedness did remain confined only to transmission of warning messages through the public radio stations.

A world summit on disaster management is being held in Mumbai the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra from 29th of January to the 1st of February. It will have a special media session to share experiences of leading media practitioners specializing in environment and disaster management. I was invited from Bangladesh but am not sure if I can proceed to take the trip to and from Mumbai, because the High Commission of India in Bangladesh has not given me visa although I visited this great neighbouring country of ours for at least half a dozen times and have many good friends in many her cities. I did also host many friends from India to Bangladesh on many occasions during the last three decades in a bid to establish and strengthen people to people contacts and cooperation for mutual benefit of the peoples of this region who share the same natural environment separated by political boundaries into seven countries. Many Indian friends invited me there to share experiences of work on environmental issues problems and ideas. Needless to say we mutually benefitted a lot from each other and this sometimes led to sharing of articles and features.
I wrote quite a number of features on environment and development plus disasters for Down To Earth magazine of the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi in the formative years of the current century. Cyclone Aila was one disaster that DTE wanted me to write on and I complied. I wrote in my story the death toll might be 10000 although, as reported by different international wire services, the authorities were confirming only about a half that number. DTE editors checked with me from New Delhi and I told them to stick to the figure I guesstimated. It was clear that the worst sufferers of Cyclone Aila were caught unawares and their sufferings continue ten years on.
I got introduced to the great Indian visionary environmentalist Anil Agarwal, founder of the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, a decade before at the instance of Daniel Nelson, former editor of Panos Features and Jemini News Service, plus Carmen Miranda, former South Asia director of Panos London, and wrote features for its Down To Earth feature service in the early nineties. Anil Agarwal did not live long and his worthy successor Sunita Narainnot only upheld the good name and fame of CSE but also further expanded its activities beyond India to countries like Bangladesh and Nepal. She invited me to a big CSE event in New Delhi and facilitated my coverage of the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002. Afterwards I helped choose journalists for training in environmental journalism at the CSE for a number of years. The trainees have by now become a large group and can help CSE with support services from Dhaka and the rest of Bangladesh.
My friend Atul requested me to accept the invitation from Daulat Desai IAS, Director of the Disaster Management Unit of the Maharashtra Government. Daulat Desai IAS took all the trouble to send me covering letters from the central Indian ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs, New Delhi, to make sure that none invited to the event was denied visa on political or similar other grounds. Legendary environmental journalists from Sri Lanka and Nepal and India have been invited to deliberate on in the special media session.
As I tried to organize myself to make a good presentation at the world congress in Mumbai but was distracted by delivery of my passport without a visa. I did not give up applied again informing the sponsors of the development. This time I sought an early delivery of the passport with visa because the scheduled date of delivery was one day behind the flight schedule fixed by the sponsors and agreed to by me. This time I myself talked to people in the High Commission of India and also requested help from some friends. The passport was delivered on 27 January, two days before the scheduled delivery date, but again without a visa. Atul told me they were trying their best to make sure I attend the meet, and I submitted another application for visa on the 28th of the month.
Anyway, going to Bombay was not a big deal to me, but the opportunity to share experiences was. On some occasions in the past I had been on transit to Bombay for my onward journey to other destinations or on way back to my home city, Dhaka. Last time I came back via Bombay I lost a Samsung cell phone which was in an unlocked pocket on by hand baggage that the crew members did not allow me to carry in my hands.
Coming back to the subject, media’s response to disasters shapes up into supportive roles in disaster management. The government set-ups that manages disasters are made up of civil servants doing transferrable jobs. Otherwise efficient executives, they find the role of the media extremely helpful and reaching their messages to their target audience and taking feedbacks from media who interact write interacting with people in disaster-prone areas. Media’s response before and after disasters are of immense benefit to the people, the government and the administration.
In one write-up of mine published in a ‘Cyclone Response Study’ by the Centre for Advances Studies, Dhaka I dwelt on how the press and the media roles were of great benefit to the society before and after the April 29, 1991 Cyclone that had claimed 141000 human lives, despite a better preparedness. That was the strongest cyclone ever to hit Bangladesh. The loss of human life however was more than three times greater in the November 12, 1970 cylcone when preparedness did remain confined only to transmission of warning messages through the public radio stations.

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