For almost a month up until the first week of December 2015, Chennai experienced unprecedented rains, the highest recorded in 100 years. As against the average rainfall of 69 cm during this period in the previous years, Chennai received 169 cm of rainfall in 2015. This resulted in ‘urban flooding’, again the first of its kind in Chennai, with one lakh cusecs of water flowing on the Chennai roads like river. On a single day, Chennai experienced a record 50 cm of rain. Most parts of Tamil Nadu State faced torrential rains and floods. This catastrophe was classified a national disaster.
Lakhs of poor and middle-classed people have incurred heavy loss of their properties (household items, vehicles, etc.). The schools in Chennai remained closed for almost a month, before reopening in the middle of December.
Around 18 lakhs of people were shifted to relief camps. There were lakhs of people in the middle-class of the society who chose not to go to the relief camps, in spite of their losing much of their household properties.
To avoid electrocution, the Government had to stop the power supply for few days. Mobile phones and landlines were not functioning. The nature made both poor and rich, including millionaires to beg for a loaf of bread.
What came out of this national disaster are the amazing stories of how the community, the public sector staff and the individuals responded to this calamity. During normal life, the city people generally do not move with or interact with neighbours, attributing it to their busy lifestyle and their pre-occupation with their priorities. They tend to be self-centred and family-centred. During this critical time, irrespective of where they were or where they came from, everyone went that extra mile to help each other. Relief materials started pouring in from different parts of the country.
There is much to be learnt from the community response to the worst floods in Chennai in 2015. It also encourages Singaporeans to think how our community would respond to a natural calamity. Would we see social resilience and community bonding if such a situation should hit us?
K Srinivasan, Founder and Chairman of Prime Point Foundation and Editor in Chief of eMagazine PreSense, will present how the community responded to the Chennai floods.
Bhavani K, an adjunct senior fellow of CENS, RSIS, will explore the lessons learnt in the Singapore context.
About the Speakers:
K. Srinivasan (popularly known as Prime Point Srinivasan in India) is a public relations and communication strategic consultant with more than 30 years of experience. He has also developed the concept of Image Audit, to study the hidden perception of stakeholders. He founded Prime Point Foundation, a non-profit trust in 1998, to promote communication awareness. He is responsible for maintaining large yahoo groups on PR, Media, Journalism and India Vision. He is a social media evangelist and trying to promote the concept amongst all in India.
He edits and publishes, PreSense, the first ‘Digital only’ eMagazine (ezine) in India. It was started in March 2006 and celebrated its 10th anniversary recently. So far, 110 monthly editions have been published till April 2016. Many eminent persons in India and outside have contributed exclusively for the contents. This ezine has been recognised with awards by many professional bodies in India. This ezine was the Media Partner for many global events.
Prime Point Foundation and the ezine PreSense honour the top performing Indian Parliamentarians with ”Sansad Ratna Awards” for the past six years based on various parameters, jointly with IIT Madras.
In March 2016, Digital Journalists Association of India (DiJAI) was formed at Chennai to bring together all the digital journalists and to hone the professional skills.
He is a professional speaker on various communication themes and a professional podcaster and blogger. His specialties include public relation, communication, image audit, podcasting, blog, social media, professional speaking, Cyber security and publishing of e-magazine.
The late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, 11th President of India was his mentor.
Bhavani K has served in the Singapore public sector for 35 years in various appointments. She was the Director of Public Communications (2008-Jul 2011), and Director of Corporate Communications and the Press Secretary to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts from 2004 to 2008.
Her last job in the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) was Director of Emergency Preparedness and Head of the Community Engagement Cluster for Media and the Arts.
She has also served as Head Public Affairs at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and later, Head of Media Relations at the Ministry of Defence. Both these postings added to her depth of experience in managing challenging issues.