You reap what you sow! No other Indian state knows the essence of this proverb as much as Odisha. Having tackled over 100 tropical cyclones since 1891, Odisha is set to make disaster and pandemic management a part of the curriculum for schools and colleges. “From now on, every high school and college student will learn about disaster and pandemic management as part of the curriculum,” stated the resolution passed by the council of ministers on May 29. Aiming to prepare a “Yodha in every home”, government employees will also be trained for disaster and pandemic management in Odisha. 

While Odisha’s ambition is a bit too high to match for other Indian states, including disaster and pandemic management in the curriculum is the idea they should definitely mull over. Why? Well, according to the Global Climate Risk Index report 2020, India stands to be the fifth vulnerable country affected by climate change. While avalanches, forest fires and landslides are common in hilly states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Bihar witness floods almost every year. Coastal states like Odisha, West Bengal, Kerala and Gujarat get intermittently hit by cyclones. It is high time that India ditches the traditional reactive approach to disasters and replaces it with preparedness. Below we have elaborated the reasons why including disaster and pandemic management should be made an essential part of the curriculum. 

1. Information Transmission

Students and youth can be a driving force in the transmission of information. If they know about the disaster and preventive measures, they will spread awareness in the community as well. Their learnings will enable them to respond quickly and thus, mitigating the potential adverse impact. Their education can act as a life saver as well.

2. Survival Skills

Nurturing a brain at a young age tends to have a long-lasting impact. Natural calamities can affect both physically and mentally, hence introduction of disaster management in the curriculum will help them develop better understanding and adapt to any disaster in the future. It will also encourage them to tackle the crisis situation with self-confidence.

3. Resilient Society

There is a huge gap between knowledge and acting on knowledge. Disaster and pandemic management in the curriculum aims to bridge the gap between the two. Awareness among students will build a sense of responsibility among them. Their knowledge will help society to prepare in a better way for adverse events. Students can apply their first-hand knowledge in reducing the risk and impact. Disaster management in the curriculum will also sow the seeds of compassion and empathy in them towards vulnerable communities.

4. Revamp Education System

For a long time, the Indian education system has given more weightage to theoretical subjects. It is time when we must include subjects like disaster management, pandemic response, climate change, agriculture etc. to enable young minds to explore new horizons for a better and resilient society. Having said that, it is crucial that students learn disaster management in a creative and easy manner.

5. Generate Employment Opportunities

In a conversation with The Week, S.N. Pradhan, Director General of National Disaster Response Force, opened up about the inconsistent approach of the states towards forming State Disaster Response Force. Besides Rajasthan, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Assam, none of the other states have created a separate force. Introducing disaster management as part of the course will help students to realise their abilities in the particular field. Meanwhile, it will also help states to follow the central government’s guidelines of creating their own SDRFs. Taking the advantage, states can induct the students into the force with a minimum training expenditure.