Summer internship at State Disaster Management Authority–Gaurav Raj from IIM Ranchi

Gaurav Raj (leftmost) interned at  State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), and shares his less expected internship experience on ‘Designing District Disaster Management Plan’. Gaurav is an MBA student at IIM Ranchi. Read on to explore his interesting internship story.

Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together–Marilyn Monroe

Here at IIM Ranchi, as summer internship placements were on its peak, some of us were terribly disappointed for not making to the elite names. Placement season in a student’s life can be exciting & gloomy at the same time. When you think “All izzzz well”, unfortunately nothing is. After attending nearly 10-20 odd preparatory GDs and PIs, heebie-jeebies still remain high during placement days. One misfire and you feel momentarily that life’s over. Ironically, you reincarnate as soon as you come to know that your friend missed it too…(very true–3 idiots).

In the midst of all this, I got selected on a journey less expected from an IIM grad. For the next 2 months my deal was to design and develop a disaster management plan for one of the 24 districts of Jharkhand (Khunti). Thomas Jefferson once said, “honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom”. Honestly, I was skeptical to work for a Govt. department (cliché).

Interning under State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) who were working in tandem with The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), I was on uncharted territories. Most of the districts in Jharkhand never had any disaster management plans (DDMP). It demanded a detailed study and expedition of the geographies, demographics, resource plans, Govt. department codes of conduct before, during and post disaster.

Due to parliamentary elections, my internship began from 21st May, 2014. Apart from an introductory session by Mr. Arun Kumar Singh (IAS), chief secretary, disaster management department, Jharkhand Govt, we had an extensive training program of 21 days under the guidance of Col. Sanjay Srivastava & Mr. Dileep Kumar.

Lot of eminent dignitaries from different departments of Jharkhand enlightened our team (17 members) with their department related disasters and resource planning methods. Most of all, we underwent a week-long session with National Institute Disaster Management professors Dr. Anil K. Gupta & Ms. Sreeja S. Nair with some fact finding expedition to the nearby forests, water sheds, animal husbandry association etc.

A long training session, undeniably!
By the end of training I was raring for some challenging ground work. Frankly, I have never had any sweet experiences with Govt. departments (all in favor, say YAY). However, this time I was well-received by respective District Administration and updated on the different disaster possibilities. District Collector (DC) conducted 3 meetings with different block BDOs, COs, department heads and industry safety officers. We took advice from Army and different industry experts on the topic “how to mitigate disasters” and create a series of awareness for “Aam Admi”.

I  gained versatile exposure to disaster related concerns during the field visit to different industrial sites of TATA Steel, Jindal, CCL, Usha Martin etc., crisis suffering villages (elephant menace, floods, and droughts), and other vulnerable sites. Thereafter, I met more than 25 different department’s heads to collect the district related data and tried to understand how they facilitated during any emergency. Data collection was a part of pre-planning strategies for any emergency.

Further, I did a Hazard, Risk, Vulnerability Assessment (HRVA) of all kinds of possible disasters (Natural or man-made) based on the historical data and weather forecasting (in light of global climate change). Subsequently I designed the proposal of budget & financial provisions for reconstruction and recovery. At the end, I went on preparing an “immediate response system (IRS)” which would work as a central command unit (Control room) during emergencies to avoid any scuffle between departments and authorities. Then I documented effective Standard Operating Procedures and Do’s & Don’ts operating in different countries at the time of emergencies. I also had to draw a procedure-wise checklist for each department.

Certainly, there were a lot of glitches and surprises. At times I felt humbled (Govt. employees have an innate ability to make you feel small), shocked (response time of departments, if you know what I mean). Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun, amusing moments, ground level experiences, developed situational intelligence and earned appreciation for IIM Ranchi & myself.

“When it’s your day, it’s your day; make the most of it.” – Yours Truly
After I had those two amazing months of internship, presenting the final draft to the authorities was the last mountain to climb. It turned out to be exemplifying and I received praises from the state & district authorities as well as from the media. Local media did an extensive coverage of the reports and visits. As it turned out to be one of the best life experiences, I feel proud to be a part of this internship. Hopefully, this could bring a change in the society and save some more lives. Last but not the least, other states will follow this up and design disaster management plans for their districts.

“They help you break the trap of your own thinking and step into a myth breaking ground.”–Anonymous

And this internship was, I would say, myth breaking for me, indeed!

Editor’s note- Have you got an internship story to share? A chance to win cool Internshala T and other cash prizes by sharing your internship story here.

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