Working with women prisoners familiarised me with the concepts of lockdown and social isolation
If you have ever visited a prison you will know 'lockdown' is a concept that accompanies the daily routine of the prisoners and 'social isolation' is a part of their everyday monotonous prison life.
In 2008, as a student social worker, I began working in Mumbai, the financial capital of India, in a prison, for under trial women. Thereafter, my journey continued in two women’s ward/prisons in Kolkata, the cultural capital of India, for my doctoral research under JU-SYLFF programme in 2010-11.
In India, there are specific periods of time when the prisoners are allowed to move about in the prison campus, while the rest of the time is spent locked within their cells. Life in COVID19 lockdown has several resonances.The pain and desperation caused by lack of freedom and meaningful human connections was represented by the women through their narratives and body language. Working with women prisoners brought me to realise the the burden of stigma and the distress of isolation .
Living lockdown life in COVID-19 pandemic brings back powerful memories of women inmates I met in prison
68% of the foreign national prisoners in India are there due to the profound ignorance exhibited by a certain British lawyer, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who had never been to India, or anywhere else in Asia, and was unmindful about the psycho- graphics and demographics of British India.The legacy of his acts continued in post-independence India.
Women, I researched for my doctoral thesis, were from the neighbouring country Bangladesh and were charged under the Foreigners Act 1946. They were in prison for having crossed the India-Bangladesh border without valid official documents. I spoke with 40 Bangladeshi women in two prisons of Kolkata. According to the Correctional Services, West Bengal, “Report of BD Nationals including UT, Convict and Released (JK) as on 01.06.11 of different Correctional Homes”, there were 2160 Bangladeshi prisoners housed in 33 different correctional homes in Kolkata in June 2011. According to the data furnished by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), it has been found that at the end of 2018, out of the 5,168 foreign national prisoners in India, 68.8% were Bangladeshis.
The high percentage of Bangladeshi prisoners in India must be taken note of in the context of the shared history between India and Bangladesh and the everyday interaction across their porous borders. Here, it must be brought to notice that British colonial rule partitioned one community into India, Pakistan and Bangladesh (was erstwhile East Pakistan). The Radcliffe line which was artificially drawn between India and Bangladesh divided people’s homes and neighbours. It imposed a sense of estrangement between communities which were historically attuned to living in close proximity with each other. While the scars of partition continue to be passed on from one generation to the next, so do the socialities between people across the Indo-Bangladesh border. People continue to maintain relationships across the borders and this is evidenced through, kinship ties and border markets. The Bangladeshi women I met in prison also stated the historical relationship between India and Bangladesh as one of the reasons why they decided to migrate to India.
First as an area of curiosity and then as a humanitarian issue which needed the attention of civil society and policy makers, I went on to explore and understand their journey from Bangladesh to being a prisoner in India.
Researching with the Bangladeshi women in prison on issues which impacted their life opened new areas of my limited conceptual understanding. I started with three research questions:
- How do they negotiate, manipulate and resist both societal and institutional norms?
- How do they challenge the notion of ‘honour’ which is integral to the male-dominated South Asian society?
- How do they make meaning in their everyday existence, living in incarceration?
The narratives of the Bangladeshi women in prisons in India ‘answered’ my research questions and brought to my notice how their lives were shaped not only by violence but also an experience of love with other male and/or female prisoners. They challenged my normative understanding of their mundane prison life and brought me to understand how they resisted and negotiated the institutions and structures they were confronted with in their everyday life. Being in love in prison enabled them to recast themselves and re-imagine their lives and sense of self. It provided them with a sense of hope in an otherwise uncertain future. The women utilised every opportunity to imagine and express a feeling of love and being loved. They wrote love letters to male prisoners, exchanged glances with men when they went to court or other parts of the prison outside the female ward. They carved the names of their lovers on their arms with the help of henna from a plant in the female ward. Their love went beyond the heteronormative ideas of monogamy and love as an end to reproduction.
Aalia, 30-year-old Bangladeshi woman in prison sang:
Manush jibon e prem ache (there is love in human life)
Tai toh shobai bhalo bashe (this is reason people get attracted to each other)
Prothom jaare lagey bhalo (the one who appeals to you at first sight)
Dekhte mone ichcha kore (you want to see them again)
Aalia, like many other women in the prison often recited or wrote songs about love.
Riya, an eighteen-year-old married woman, said in a moment of rage: "You are also a young girl. We are younger than you. Don’t you do what you want to do and when you want to do it? Think about us...we cannot do anything that we want...Can you do me a favour...when you go out and tell people about us please also tell them that these girls want to come out of prison because winters are approaching and they cannot stay in the prison without a man. I hope you understand what I am trying to say."
The women’s expressions of love made their bodily desires visible as well as constantly invisible, by virtue of a lack of space or opportunity to enact those desires. They encountered the pain of imprisonment through imagination, language or bodily expressions of love. The idea of being in love enabled them to recast themselves and hope for a better future.
Practitioners, scholars, and activists were invited to discuss the plight of women prisoners in India
What the love stories of Aalia and Riya have to offer us in this time of crisis?
The Narratives of Aalia and Riya demand that we look at various ways for sustaining the emotional lives of the prisoners. There is an urgent need to re-imagine the world order and re-build it on an ethic which ensures emotional sustainability. Recovery of the economic and political life, or the 'physical bodies of humans' and 'physical structures of society' is not enough. There needs to be a strong co-existence of the mind/body and reason/emotions for sustainable living. In addition, any policy and institutional framework designed for humans, needs to take into account the complexity of this co-existence and the intersectionalities of caste, class, race and gender which confine them. Politics of emotion needs to be an integral aspect of understanding society. An understanding of the politics of emotion opens the door for co-feeling with those who may not occupy the same echelons of power, thereby, fostering a space for power sharing and empathy.
Re-imagining Recovery Package with Radical Empathy
-The 21st century industrial society needs to shift gears and understand diverse aspects of human life
-The recovery packages cannot be transformative by focusing on only physical and economic well-being
-Human well-being and justice in all its multiple dimensions need to be in consideration, not just economic recovery
-Invest in building social capital to stay engaged in eradicating despair and isolation from society
-Social Scientists, Social Workers, Humanitarian Action Workers need to lead the way forward through knowledge generation and dissemination
-Investment in inclusion of social work and humanitarian action in the region as a required course in curriculum of each educational institution
Society as a whole can only thrive when we focus on emotional well-being and a sense of self worth amongst it's participants. It can only be sustained if the essence of radical empathy is incorporated in our everyday understanding of social-political institutions and the functioning of the market : from the micro to the macro. Connectedness, not isolation, is the way ahead.
Author of Women, Mobility and Incarceration: Love and Recasting of Self across the Bangladesh-India Border (Routledge 2018).
COVID-19 Communication: Fuel for Social Distrust
If you watch closely from within the society you can see the world is in an utter state of confusion and disarray.
Volatility, disbelief and fear are the three essentials that are ravaging our society. That is, if you are a part of the suffering society.
However, if you are a bureaucrat, your experiential landscape is completely different. Governed by the diktats of donors (and/or political leaders ) the pressure on bureaucracy is to produce quantifiable results!!!!
The Need for Effective Communication
The world witnessed HIV and AIDS. In 1981 first case was reported in USA and then over decades spread to several countries. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS, 2002-2003) originated in China and spread to nearly 29 countries, Swine Flu (2009-2010) appeared in Mexico and then spread to atleast 30 countries and Ebola (2013-2014) appeared in Africa and spread to at least 10 countries. It was the geographical spread of the virus which earned them the title of a pandemic. People affected by these viruses did not reach the proportion of either HIV or the current COVID-19.
In the absence of a vaccine, communication with focus on risk communication forms an integral part of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). In 2005 the International Health Regulations underscored the importance of risk communication as a health intervention. Later on, risk communication became central to WHO’s Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework.
The Learning from Previous Pandemics
1. HIV demanded the shift in discourse to risk communication;
2. SARS taught us the need to address mental health issues of people in isolation and healthcare workers.
3. MERS, Ebola highlighted the importance of real time monitoring of health data, importance of usage of advanced technology in healthcare.
How WHO (World Health Organization) Handled the Communication During COVID-19?
A dedicated webpage was designed on COVID-19 to tell the world on how to tackle the pandemic to reduce risk of getting infected. Graphic designers got in the game. They actively participated in spreading COVID19 awareness
In fact, there are quite a few similarities between HIV and COVID-19:
1. Both started with no vaccine for cure.
2. Both the pandemics have created social and moral panic.
3. HIV was slow onslaught and took nearly four decades to cause disruptions but similar to COVID-19, HIV had unprecedented impact on public health, human development and individual lives.
4. HIV made it evident that individual-centered risk reduction strategies have limited success since they discuss risk in a social vacuum.
HIV encouraged bottom-up approach in health communication.
The emphasis was on the need for communication for social change - ‘process where “community dialogue” and “collective action” work together to produce social change’.
In reality, the perception of risk is intertwined with the social context of the individual. Hence, health communication should understand and address the lived realities of individuals.
Driving COVID-19 Awareness Becomes A Bureaucratic Tool of Control
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in India developed officially a plethora of Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials related to COVID-19. Along with print and electronic media; social media was used extensively to connect with the people. There was a dedicated webpage on COVID-19 on the website of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
The Ministry of Health ensured greater stakeholder engagement in risk communication by networking with different departments such as department of telecommunication, postal services etc.
The IEC materials addressed various issues - health risks, mental health, empathy, care and support, stigma and discrimination. There are messages such as ‘Do not stigmatise patients and family members’, ‘Do not stigmatise Covid-19 survivors’, ‘Standing together against Covid-19 stigma’. A psycho-social toll-free helpline has been created for better community engagement. For the first time, there is a series of communication materials talking about the contribution of the front line workers, their need for protection and the responsibility of the society to be respectful towards them.
A FEAR MONGERING POSTER!!!
Glaring Blind spots in COVID-19 Communication
Communication 'materials' with no community connect. Notwithstanding the positive endeavour of MoHFW, several challenges still remain.
Bridging Gaps or Deepening Inequalities?
By upholding the globally coined language of 'social distancing' but not WHO health advisory of 'physical distancing' as key to risk reduction communication existing inequities in the pre-COVID society in India is only deepening . Social discrimination, stigmatization of social classes, COVID positive patients are becoming ground realities of extremely added pain in the state of utter confusion in the economically shattering society. The Indian caste system thrives on the idea of "social distancing" !! . The practice of purity and pollution is through the exercise of social distancing between castes. The upper caste maintains its purity by socially distancing themselves from the impure, lower caste. As history shows the concept of socially distancing is inherently divisive. So, for such a society insensitive communication material is deepening the crisis to the extreme.
Globally coined "Social distancing" also implies people have the requisite resources and the enabling environment to adopt such preventive strategies. As yourself, can a daily wage earner, migrant labourer and countless homeless; who jostle for space, living in urban slums afford to practice social distancing when they need to depend on larger society for their livelihood by providing domestic help and running errands, selling what little skills they have?
No Bureaucratic IEC materials address the vulnerability of groups such as migrant labourers, homeless people, sex workers and others. As if it was to protect only urban rich.
STAY HOME, STAY SAFE WORKS ONLY IF YOU HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE IN
The approach remains top-down, 'control and convey', rather than being bottom-up. Moreover, given the socioeconomic realities of millions of people in India, as they try to navigate through survival, hunger and health; do you think it is possible for them to actually practice such elaborate norms of hand wash, sanitization practices and social and physical distancing.
In reality, COVID-19 communication highlighted a human society that has been blind to the basic needs of clean water and clean living spaces. The biggest cause of concern in the Indian context has been the uncritical acceptance of the global framework of "social distancing" risk communication.
1. Governed by the diktats of donors the pressure on bureaucracy is to produce quantifiable results.
2. Official reports are on headcounts.
3. National achievements are shown in Counting numbers of IEC materials produced, new media used, number of NGOs supported in communication materials preparation, people to whom these have been told.
If we observe the pattern of risk communication in India, it becomes apparent that the exercise is an attempt to respond to the bureaucratic targets of preparing information book, reports rather than to uplifting the lives of people. Failure to connect to societal dire needs is the recipe for social distrust with very long term negative impact on sustainable progress.
HIV had clearly shown that health communication is effective only when social norms and cultures are honored. National strategy can be stronger if it is NOT donor driven. Community practices, socio-cultural wisdom can enrich risk communication. Health communication will be inclusive, empowering and sustainable only when there is greater community involvement, articulation of local knowledge in health messages, existing power structures and inequalities are challenged. Sustainability depends on a hyphenated relation between global and local; we cannot let one overpower the other.
Take home messages from Covid-19 for way forward ?
a. Customize locally appropriate health messages
b. Local words, visuals and faces from the community should find a space in health-related materials.
c. Decentralize the process of health promotion
d. Health sector experts, workers to take lead rather than the standard bureaucracy
e. People need to be proactive even when this Pandemic is over and prepare dos and don'ts.
f. Investment and Wider engagement on a continuous scale in community health promotion and training.
g. Health and hygiene provision and training at all scales as basic human right
h. Local institutions to be engaged in documentation and dissemination of local/traditional practices of good health.
i. Information, communication and Education (IEC) materials need to be continuously taught to the society.
i. IEC should consciously highlight the healthy practices already in place and practiced by diverse communities.
j. Health exhibits at the community level in the local language to sensitize people.
We should not forget that in India, despite vaccines, every year seasonal measles attack is an annual phenomena. Family level Quarantine of the patient is a common family practice. The individual remains in self-isolation for three weeks. Such practices neither arouse stigma nor do they create any panic in the society. Instead of blindly following the global hype, we need to dip into our cultural intelligence and our sub-conscious wisdom. In doing so, we need to resort to messaging that uses local art forms to connect with community better.
Sreerupa Sengupta, works in the space of gender, media, public policy and human rights
COVID-19 Indicates the Essentials of Dignified Living
The recent worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has placed us face to face with the ferocity of Gaia, prompting us to introspect — to reverse the wanton way of our life in enjoying the material world. Can 7.8 billion population sustain in the culture of consumerism, with unbounded material production activities in the pursuit of 'go as you like' actions, putting pressure on the ecological and environmental balance of the earth?
The appearance of the virus at this juncture hence came to be termed by many ( Gatti, 2020; Poudel et al 2020; Gourinchas, 2020) as the nature’s negative feedback to turn the things right. In the words of R.C Gatti –the planet has become sick of us and now it tries to make us sick. The pandemic is the aftermath of Gaia’s pro-activeness to self regulate its system or a mere coincidence at this rat race and restless competitive human existence.
Gaia —The Natural Capital
“Gaia” is the ‘mother earth’ named after the Greek Goddess. The Gaia is the super ecosystem, a composite of diverse micro ecosystems like oceans, rivers, ponds, forests, mountains etc. containing diverse biotic and a-biotic resources. GAIA is self regulating and self perpetuating mechanism. The entire ecosystem is governed by the delicate balance of carbon, water and other gases. The fine tuned natural law produces ideal conditions that make life on earth possible.
Natural Law dictates the interconnected actions and reactions of the living organisms. This results in a dynamic process of balancing, interaction and feedback loop operating among different species of living objects. Back in 2003 Lenton et. al. wrote (a) although there is a state of thermodynamic atmospheric disequilibrium owing to the activities of life, the aspects of its composition are remarkably stable (b) the conditions at the surface of the Earth are usually at the near optimal state for the dominant organisms (c) life has persisted for over 3.8 billion years despite increasing solar luminosity and variable exchange of matter with the inner Earth. (d) the Earth system has time and again revived through self regulating mechanisms from enormous disturbances.
The Present Imbalance — Why Gaia is Sick?
Carbon captured in fossil fuels burnt, released, and overloaded the atmosphere. Hence, the imbalance. Over loading of chemicals manufactured in the processes since the 18th century, without regard to nature’s self regulating law has resulted in deforestation, disposal of wastes from human activities, poisonous natural water bodies, destruction of land’s fertility. Human intervention has led to loss of species, locust invasion, diseased plants, arsenic and fluoride infested ground water aquifers, vector borne disease, toxic air pollution— all leading to a sick eco-system.
In the words of Picasso “If we can relearn to value and respect Gaia, God the Mother, we may know the honour of contributing to the balance that supports life rather than instability that threatens it”.
We are the last generation that can still reverse the course. Education, investing and repairing the damage rests on this generation and this generation only.
Post COVID-19 Recovery Can Reduce Consumerism and Revive Gaia
COVID-19 brought into limelight one unique, but common realization for those who are living the life of plenty — non-essential material possessions is not essential for living a dignified life.
The post- COVID-19 conversation should hail the encouragement of resource re-direction towards meeting the essential needs of meeting of 50% of 7.8 billion who are deprived of the essentials of a dignified living.
While traditional mass knowledge producers are looking for putting old wine in a new bottle, the wisdom of Gaia provokes us to re-imagine and produce COVID-19 Societal Self-regulatory Recovery path.
According to living planet report (2010), myopic vision of nature, deposits of carbon rich fuels and blindness to all other bounty has led to all undesirable consequences:
(a) Habitat loss due to rampant conversion of forest land for agriculture, aquaculture, industrial or urban use .
(b) Depleted stock of biodiversity through over exploitation. between 1990 and 2016, the world lost 502,000 square miles (1.3 million square kilometers) of forest, according to the World Bank—an area larger than South Africa ( Nunez, 2019)
(c) Pollution from excessive use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides, mining waste, urban and industrial effluents etc
(d) Crop loss due to invasive species, infestation of predators and parasites
(e) Climate change due to burning of fossil fuel and massive deforestation
(f) Indigenous communities and many local communities who lived with nature for ages are retaliating the colonization impact
(g) Ground water extraction has been at the rate of 982km3 /year (NGWA, 2020).
Biodiversity has declined by about 30 per cent between 1970 and 2007; and with business usual practices, 2.8 planets will be needed by 2050 to provide for consumption and to store carbon generated from combustion of fossil fuels, land use change and chemical processes. Humanity’s footprint had been about 2.7 gha per person while biocapacity only 1.8 gha per person with resulting in ecological overshoot by about 50%. Current projections indicate a CO2 concentration between 600 and 1000 ppm by the year 2100 which is likely to change the biology of invasive agricultural diseases, insects and weeds (IPCC, 2007). Big question is how long can we afford to neglect this scale of adverse natural phenomena that threaten our sustainability?
At this rate of extraction the balancing mechanism is considerably lost and in her urgency to bring about balancing mechanisms, we experience her fury in the form of adverse natural events like wild fire, flood, pestilence, famine, storms, global warming etc.
The Pathway Forward
1. Re-build and educate a larger society aware of the regenerative capacity of Gaia.
2. Re-think of Natural Capital that needs servicing to maintain clean air and clean water.
3. Re-define the use of Natural Capital that provide minerals, woods, food.
4. Re-develop the science of Natural Capital that regulates daily temperature and rainfall patterns.
5. Re-imagine the amenity services of Natural capital with its mountain peaks like Himalayas, Denali, Alps, ocean and coasts provide.
Need of the hour is to educate economists and researchers with environmental economics, ecological economics, bio-economics, but also urgently needed for company executives, NGOs, decision makers, policy makers, bankers, investors, national accounts departments to know how to correct distortion in economic progress accounting, greening of GDP accounting, correct distortion in market prices, government regulations and work with communities to empower them for keeping Gaia healthy and productive with natural regulatory mechanism.
Soumyendra Kishore Datta
Christina Nunez(2019) Climate 101, Deforestation, National Geographic, Feb 7
National Ground Water Association (2020) Facts About Global Groundwater Usage
Padam Bahadur Poudel*, Mukti Ram Poudel1 , Aasish Gautam, Samiksha Phuyal, Chiran Krishna Tiwari, Nisha Bashyal, ShilaBashyal, (2020), COVID-19 and its Global Impact on Food and Agriculture, Journal of Biology Today's World ; 9(5): 221.
Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas2020) Flattening the Pandemic and Recession Curves, Policy Brief 23:econfip,
Roberto Cazzolla Gatti (2020) Coronavirus Outbreak Is a Symptom of Gaia's Sickness, Ecol Modell.
Timothy M. Lenton and David M. Wilkinson(2003), Developing the Gaia Theory. A Response to the Criticisms of Kirchner and Volk, Climatic Change 58(1) · May
US energy Information Administration www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/report/global_oil.php(2020), Short-term energyoutlook.
Power of Observation and Unbridled Imagination Results in Discoveries and Innovation
21st Century Needs More Creative Minds
Human civilization has sustained itself through ‘creative’ thinking that leads to discoveries which ultimately translates into innovative technology. From antiquity the knowledge about universe is evolving for many centuries, so are our technologies leading to the progress of human civilization. To usher into a new world of sustainability, the journey from illusion of obscurity to the effulgence of reality need to continue even at this trying time of 21st century.
17th Century: Great Plague Leads to Great Scientific Discovery
It was 1665 during Great Plague of London one quarter of population died. Students were sent back home. Newton in his 20s came back home. During 1665-1667, young Newton’s creative mind made the base work on calculus, experiments on prism that paved the way for the foundation of optics, and most importantly propounded the concept of gravitation that resulted in first unification in science—the unification of the laws of Earth with that of Heaven. Falling of apple from tree caused by the force of acceleration due to gravity acting on the body (apple) was found to be exactly the same force that keeps planets to go around the Sun—his ‘little moon’ calculations established that the natural law of gravitation is true at every nook and corner of the universe. Newton’s laws of motion and the concept of acceleration (rate of change of velocity/speed) are experienced in our everyday life. When driving a car we press the ‘accelerator’ to increase the speed or more precisely the rate of change of speed of the car to run it faster. Newton’s universal law of gravitation makes planets to go around the Sun in specified orbits.
20th Century: Golden Period of Scientific Discoveries in the midst of War and Chaos
Leaping Beyond the Horizon—Einstein’s Legacy. Einstein came-up with his famous theory of relativity; special theory of relativity (free of gravitation) in 1905 and general theory of relativity (where gravitation was included) in 1915. He was then a technical assistant -second grade at the patent office of Bern, Switzerland, Einstein taught us to think out of the box but with reason.
It is the engagement of a thoughtful, creative, and revolutionary but rational mind that matters. Einstein once said: “I am not particularly intelligent but I am curious”—and thus we have been bestowed with the most beautiful of theories, theory of relativity; that has totally changed our view about universe from its predecessors like Aristotle, Ptolemy, including Newton. Albert Einstein was visualizing a ‘new physics’ through Maxwell’s electrodynamics that shook the foundation of Newtonian understanding of cosmic world. With Einstein’s theory of relativity we have come across the terms like ‘big-bang’, ‘gravitational waves’, ‘black hole’, ‘expanding universe’, and so forth.
Just before the great depression of 1930s, back in 1929 Hubble’s experimental observation of the motion of galaxies established the concept of expanding universe and in 1940s George Gamow propounded the big-bang theory based on Einstein’s expanding universe as the origin of universe that was verified in 1965 on the basis of experimental observation of the existence of Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation.
On the TV screen the ‘static’ or the so called ‘snow’ we see when there is no TV signal is due to Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation left behind by big-bang explosion that happened at the beginning of the universe when it was born 13.8 billion years ago.
20th Century Vision of Einstein Leads to 21st Century Marvels of Technology
Einstein’s great vision of 20th century and theory of relativity led to the development of marvels of technology in 21st Century.
Einstein, unlike Newton and all his predecessors, visualized that space and time are not different entities. They together form the fabric of the universe known as space-time.
According to his concept, gravitation is not at all a ‘ghost force’, as was predicted by Newton.
It is a manifestation of the space-time curvature near a body having mass. Larger the mass of the body more curved is the space-time around that body and more is the gravitational force.
A ‘black hole’ having ideally infinite mass has extreme extent of space-time curvature around it with stupendously large gravitational pull. It does not allow even light to escape from it’s monstrous grip.
Hence came the name black hole. The term ‘black hole’ was coined by relativity expert John Wheeler in 1967.
According to Einstein’s relativity theory a moving mass , stupendously large ones like black hole can generate gravitational waves. A moving charge generate electromagnetic waves. Both electromagnetic wave and gravitational wave travels with the velocity of light. In nature gravitational waves are extremely feeble compared to electromagnetic wave thus need extremely sensitive instrument to detect it.
Here comes the marvel of technology LIGO that was capable to detect the presence of ‘gravitational waves’ after a century of Einstein’s prediction from his general theory of relativity.
In 2016 gravitational waves have been detected by LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) experiment.
Image Source: Wikipedia
Investment in Science and Technology is Always the Way forward
On September 14, 2015, the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded LIGO. Scientists made it possible to first-ever directly observe gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of space-time predicted by Albert Einstein 100 years earlier.
The public announcement took place on February 11, 2016, in Washington, D.C. Each of the twin LIGO observatories—one in Hanford, Washington, and the other in Livingston, Louisiana—picked up the feeble signal of gravitational waves generated 1.3 billion years ago when two black holes spiraled together and collided. The information of that collision was there in the nature and was carried to Earth by ripples of gravitational waves. They have traveled a distance of 1.3 billion light years riding on the shoulder of space-time curvature with the velocity of light. This took 1.3 billion years.
The instrument LIGO which could receive this gravitational waves converted them into audio signals and the sound resembled the noise of chirping birds.
Barry C. Barish with Rainer Weiss, and Kip Thorne who led the team to build and experiment with LIGO were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in the year 2017. Barish commented: “The detection of gravitational waves is truly a triumph of modern large-scale experimental physics”.
Author of a forth coming book 'Knowledge about Universe-Down the Ages'
For more stories keep visiting the Blog page
Whether it is COVID19, AMPHAN, LOCUST several sub-national and national leaders failed miserably despite their consistent Global Commitments
They failed to coordinate, they failed to involve the necessary agencies, they failed to involve people and follow inclusive process in preparation of risk management plans prior to the disasters to face disasters fearlessly and minimise the losses. It clearly shows lack of understanding of the science behind disasters, technological, social and humanitarian approaches and a clear disconnect between integration in Multi-level governance, Risk communication, Science policy interface.
In a disaster especially in a double disaster like situation as was Kolkata in Amphan, two way flow in both vertical and horizontal risk communication is a must in monolithic government. It is no longer an issue to get political mileage but a complex crisis situation to be solved collectively. One way instructions from top without being sensitive to bottom up feed-backs outside the formal chain of command creates chaos and disorder. Trained manpower with capacity to face extreme risks is the key to keep the disaster risk governance functional and effective. Be it Cyclone Amphan, Public health emergency like COVID-19 or Dengue. While the early warning in Amphan was not responded with necessary preparedness , in Covid-19, delayed communication without enough risk framing by epicenter China created confusion for Global Preparedness.
Since 2015, the landmark UN agreements (e.g., the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction [SFDRR], Paris Agreement, and Sustainable Development Goals have set the Goals, targets, priorities for practical actions to reset and preset the developmental actions on Sustainable Development Path by 2030.
Governance Priorities in multi-hazard contexts in SFDRR
What is multi hazard add couple of sentences please
1. Understanding disaster risk
2. Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk
3. Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience
4. Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Who is the Main actor identified by SFDRR
Governments have been given the power to take proactive actions to coordinate, involve people and follow inclusive process in preparation of risk management plans prior to the disasters to face disasters fearlessly and minimise the losses.
History of Global Governance for Disaster Preparedness traces back to 1994
It started in Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World: Guidelines for Natural Disaster Prevention, Preparedness and Mitigation and its Plan of Action in 1994. Aim was to protect persons and their property, health, livelihoods and productive assets, as well as cultural and environmental assets, while promoting and protecting all human rights, including the right to development.
In 2005, United Nations General Assembly convened World Conference on Disaster Reduction, in Kobe, Japan. As a result, the Hyogo Framework for Action [HFA] was adopted to frame risk reduction. It was endorsed by 168 countries. HFA was the global blueprint for disaster risk reduction efforts between 2005 and 2015 with a goal to substantially reduce disaster losses by 2015 - in lives, and in the social, economic, and environmental assets of communities and countries.
As a sequel, in 2015, 193 UN Member States adopted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR 2015-2030) endorsed by UN General Assembly.
What makes us to frame COVID-19 as a Disaster?
The UN defines disaster as:
• a sudden or major misfortune calamitous event
• seriously disrupts the normal functioning of the community or society
• when a hazard caused by nature/ human action exposes and makes people vulnerable
• causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses that exceed the community’s or society’s ability to cope using its own resources.
COVID19 and Other Hazards
Exposure to COVID-19 as a disease became a global hazard because it infected in first half of 2020
~6.8 million people (with about 3.0 million active infected patients),
~3.05 million suffered mild
~53,000 suffered severe
~0.4 million lost life
Fact check also show global disasters on a yearly basis:
~1.6 million people get infected lungs due to indoor air pollution
~200 million people suffer from malaria; But Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Global Burden of Disease (GBD) puts this estimate at 620,000 in 2017.
~390 million get dengue;
~0.65 million die of influenza
In Post COVID19 World How to Get Long Term Accelerated Bottom up Demand for Actions and Accountability?
In 21st century it is people: individual, family, community will be confronting the hazards of natural fury and man made developmental mistakes due to unfinished agenda. To successfully thrive with a rapidly changing climate in this decade and coming decades will depend on:
• How to interpret risk information flowing to us through market, government, institutional and social media sources.
• How we decide on our own coping capacity and strategies.
• How to educate and train ourselves to enhance our power of observation through a thinking mind and acquired research skill, integration with indigenous wisdom.
There is clear need for knowledge creation and human capital building through regular updates and participation in course work, student training, researchers, scientists, technology developers, relief workers, recovery managers, policy makers, financial institutions, to get introduced and ready for a new 21st Century job market for disaster risk study, risk reduction and risk mitigating services.
Promotes interdisciplinary higher education for disaster risk managers