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Tsunami warning

 
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alpa_sheth
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Joined: 26 Jan 2003
Posts: 259
Location: Mumbai

PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 7:04 pm    Post subject: Tsunami warning Reply with quote

Dear All:

I share the anguish expressed by Prof ARC and Prof Iyengar.

And today's spectacle of the false Tsunami warning was adding insult to injury. How can we explain such wild rumours and warnings from the Ministry at a time when relief and rescue must go on unimpeded? The ensuing squabble between the Home Ministry and Ministry of Science after the warning turned out to be a hoax were  very ungainly. I wonder how we appear to the outside world if we look so shabby even to ourselves.

We have "experts of international quality" in earthquake engineering and seismology who advise the govt. Why then do we have such completely unscientific predictions rule our judgement when on the other hand we wait impotently for Tsunamis to hit our coastline a full two to three hours after an earthquake first happens? How is posterity going to judge us for our gaffes?

I hope some good counsel prevails. I think it is time there was a cleanup in our whole system in our management of disasters. We need some fresh, out-of-the box thinkers. Else we will always be caught on the backfoot at the time of disasters.

When I see students like Stacey Martin, I do feel there is indeed some hope for our country!

Best regards,
Alpa

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skjain.iitk
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Joined: 26 Jan 2003
Posts: 104

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2004 12:00 pm    Post subject: Tsunami warning Reply with quote

Dear Colleagues:

I was hoping to see far more action on SEFI today regarding the warning
issued by Govt of India yesterday for a tsunami. It appears that the
SEFI community is too shocked to react to yesterday's events.

Let me take the other side: the side of scientists and academics, and
share my perceptions on the same:

a) Many of the scientific organizations in our country are going through
a systematic decay over the years. Talk to their scientists and one is
horrified at the lack of any authority or autonomy they have in most
financial matters for which they must seek clearances from the concerned
Ministries. Once that starts, senior scientists deny authority or
autonomy to their juniors. Some time back, a CSIR scientist told me that
he cannot write on SEFI because to write any message, he will have to
get it cleared from a committee in his laboratory.

b) You cannot expect outstanding work from demoralized people. You
cannot expect the senior scientists of such organisations to focus on
science when they need to chase bureaucrats for small approvals.  I
recall that when we started the Bhuj earthquake reconnaissance in Feb
2001, my US counterpart asked me to arrange a reconnaissance flight by
an aeroplane which we did and found it was most useful. I was told by a
senior retired officer of a science organisation, that the Indian
government scientists would not have the financial authority to spend
about one lakh rupees (yes, that is all that we spent for the full day
trip) for such a purpose, howsoever senior he may be.

c) I would not have been able to do even 10% of whatever I have done
professionally, if IITK did not have the autonomy, and more importantly,
if within IITK I did not have the freedom to do things that I consider
important. I may mention here that IITs could do better than many other
institutions because they were set up by an Act of the Parliament which
provides them certain autonomy in governance. You have to trust and
support academics and scientists and they will prove themselves.

d) In today's times, there is too much emphasis on "yes man" : more so,
with respect to academics and scientists. If you are upright and
competent, you are sidetracked. As a result, many ministries are advised
by such "yes man" regardless of their competence. And,  many academic
institutions have lost the lustre.

I have been reading a number of emails of Prof. A R Chandrasekaran also:
I agree with him that not all is well with our scientific organizations.
I suggest that if you treat these organisations (and individuals in such
organisations) as second rate, they will become second rate.

The accountability and autonomy come together. I wish and hope that
rather than witch hunting, our politicians and bureaucrats will  learn
from success stories elsewhere about how scientific bodies and academic
institutions are to be treated and supported so that they deliver the
best results.

Needless to say, there are exceptions in the country, and you see spikes
of excellence in those exceptional organizations.

Best regards,

Sudhir K Jain

alpa_sheth@vakilmehtasheth.com wrote:

Quote:
Dear All:

I share the anguish expressed by Prof ARC and Prof Iyengar.

And today's spectacle of the false Tsunami warning was adding insult to injury. How can we explain such wild rumours and warnings from the Ministry at a time when relief and rescue must go on unimpeded? The ensuing squabble between the Home Ministry and Ministry of Science after the warning turned out to be a hoax were  very ungainly. I wonder how we appear to the outside world if we look so shabby even to ourselves.

We have "experts of international quality" in earthquake engineering and seismology who advise the govt. Why then do we have such completely unscientific predictions rule our judgement when on the other hand we wait impotently for Tsunamis to hit our coastline a full two to three hours after an earthquake first happens? How is posterity going to judge us for our gaffes?

I hope some good counsel prevails. I think it is time there was a cleanup in our whole system in our management of disasters. We need some fresh, out-of-the box thinkers. Else we will always be caught on the backfoot at the time of disasters.

When I see students like Stacey Martin, I do feel there is indeed some hope for our country!

Best regards,
Alpa











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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2004 12:31 pm    Post subject: Tsunami warning Reply with quote

It was indeed very painful day to watch the bungling yesterday.
I do not want to explicitly name the senior officials who made the pathetic
statements.
We should be grateful that our media , particularly the visual one, is
vigilant. The expression on the face of those interviewed and of the anchor
tells it all.
Have they mortagaged their thinking ? The danger is that the story of crying
about wolf would come true.

Some one should clarify what is meant by "do not panic" once such foolish
alarm is sounded.

I am reminded about what has become the public attitude regarding the color
coded warnings issued by Homeland Security of USA.
Why we should emulate such jokes ?

I do not know the scope of "right to information" bill approved !! by Govt.
We should exercise the right.

We are indeed glad that atleast some enjoy a lot of freedom to work and
contribute. The idea of SEFI itself is great.
Is there any feedback whether any Govt agency is influenced by SEFI?

The Govt committees contains too many yes men - either it is fear to express
views openly or plain "chalta hai" attitude of you pat my back and i will
pat yours

ARC
----- Original Message -----
Message From  <skjain@iitk.ac.in>
To: <for_prof_arc@hotmail.com>
Sent: Friday, December 31, 2004 5:30 PM
Subject: Tsunami warning


Quote:
Dear Colleagues:

I was hoping to see far more action on SEFI today regarding the warning
issued by Govt of India yesterday for a tsunami. It appears that the
SEFI community is too shocked to react to yesterday's events.


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rni
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Joined: 26 Jan 2003
Posts: 108

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2004 12:43 pm    Post subject: Tsunami warning Reply with quote

On Fri, 31 Dec 2004 skjain@iitk.ac.in wrote:

Quote:
Dear Colleagues:

I was hoping to see far more action on SEFI today regarding the warning
issued by Govt of India yesterday for a tsunami. It appears that the
SEFI community is too shocked to react to yesterday's events.
---
Dear Alpa, Sudhir and SEFIans
I was aghast when I heard over the TV that an earthquake prediction
has been accepted by Govt. of India (obviously endorsed by the Science Managers)and a warning has been issued to
southern states. Sri Lanka also knew about this but was wise enough, not to
make kneejerk reactions. Or may be they did not have experts in Seismology
advising them! This failure is a shame. Which department under S&T ministry is accountable for this?...
Yes, I was too shocked by several bits of happenings here. Yesterday we
had the valedictory of our NPEEE-semester course. One student from Chennai
was in tears. Reason: The tsunami had almost reached his house in
Tiruvanmiyur but nothing really happened. But the new warning made him
panic and he was frantically calling his family, but no one to lift the
phone. Any way finally he came to me and was asking my opinion on the
prediction. I could only soothen his nerves a little bit. There was panic
in Udipi and Mangalore. People had been vacated from the coast!  
Then the squabbles on the TV between the home ministry and the S&T
ministry, and scenes of people running in fright. In my assessment this is
because of the attraction some highly placed persons in S&T depts have
for anything that is PHOREN. A computer buff in Oregon could sway
the opinions of these great intellectuals of our Science Depts as a new
year prank.
RNI

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