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Insurance and cyclones



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Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!
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Here is a response from a policymaker to Barun's op-ed: For open debate.

Dear Sanjeev, 
  
I fully agree with the need for more targetted insurance marketing (for
want of better word I am using it). Perhaps instead of paying so much of
Ex-gratia we could pay part of of it towards the insurance premium for the
household effects, business implements (for fisherfolks etc.) and life.
This way, while the person would be insurance-covered, the insurance
companies (in order to minimise their losses) would take the initiative in
educating the vulnerable people about disaster mitigation, the designs of
the houses to withstand the kind of calamity that they are likely to face,
the response to warnings etc.
  
I also read Mr. Barun S. Mitra on the man made disaster that the Orissa
cyclone has been. Man made disaster definitely it has been but not in the
same perspective that Mr. Mitra projects. You would recall that barely 15
days before a cyclone had hit Orissa coast. About  35 persons had died even
then. Prior to this super cyclone also warnings were given much in advance
(In fact 48 hours in advance). However, this is where illiteracy and
poverty (people cannot afford to remain without employment even though in
coastal areas threatend with cyclone warning) becomes a factor in enhancing
the effects of a disaster. You and I have tried to evacuate people and
perhaps understand how difficult it is. Add to this the fact of another
cyclone barely 15 days back that did not affect in such a large measure (by
our standards). Therefore when the warnings for this cyclone were given, it
was taken as the cry for the proverbial 'wolf' besides the other two
factors of poverty and illiteracy. In fact one of the areas of concern is
how to communicate with the vulnerable people of the kind that we have! We
may progress with internet, space imagery etc. etc. but that doesnot
address the basic issue hoe to reach/communicate with the vulnerable people
and hence my view that it is a man made disaster. I do not agree with Mr.
Mitra's surmise that sufficient warning was not there. Records would speak
for itself. You would also notice that inspite of Paradip being in the eye
of the storm, the damage to the port was not as extensive. This would only
illustrate that warning was there and those who could make use of it could
minimise their losses. 
  
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