Dr. Amrita Rangasami

Dr. Amrita Rangasami did her tripos and MA in English Literature from Newnham College University of Cambridge (UK). She then travelled to the United States and attained a Master of Science degree in journalism from Columbia University, New York. Thereafter she came back to India and served as Asst. Editor of Indian Express for many years. During the course of her career in journalism, she succinctly brought-out the suffering of families hit by the onslaught of floods or the chilling penury experienced during severe droughts. Her mind was attracted towards finding ways and means of dealing effectively with natured calamities like cyclones, earthquakes, tornados and volcano bursts and man-made disasters associated with gas leaks at nuclear plants or firm determination, she realised she must pursue higher studies to become a specialist at managing natural calamities and man-made disasters. She enrolled at the University of Delhi for an M.Phil in Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics. After securing her M.Phil from the University of Delhi, She went on to enrol for Ph.d at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Amrita ji did a fine Ph.d . She resigned from a well-paid job in Indian Express to pursue her dream. Gradually she was drawn towards “the financing of calamities relief” This focus came about since she was dismayed at the small amount of money doled-out to farmers and villagers, according to the archaic Drought Manual of India for alleviating suffereing on account of drought. In time, she founded the Centre for the Study of Administration of Relief (CSAR) with a set of eminent intellectuals. She was invited by the University of Oxford as a Visiting Fellow to teach under the Refugee Studies Program and spent two terms there. She was also invited by the Frei University in Berlin to teach on Poverty, Famine and Marginalisation. She served as a consultant to Four Finance Commission on Calamity Relief and Disaster Management. In the case of the Twelfth Finance Commission, She was appointed as Adviser in the rank of an Additional Secretary to the Government of India. Her Reports to the Finance Commission are sterling documents which bear testimony to her passion for financing of Calamity and Disaster relief.

A few, select highlights of her career are given below:

2001-02

• A paper on "Towards the Elimination of Starvation and Destitution in the Kalahandi Region of Orissa" submitted to the National Human Rights Commission of India by Dr. Amrita Rangasami for reformulating the Orissa State Relief Manual. • CSAR organized a National Workshop on "Financing Calamity Relief: the implications of the Eleventh Finance Commission's Recommendations", at New Delhi. The Workshop was chaired by Mr N.N Vora, current Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, and Mr Purukayastha, then Chief Relief Commissioner of India, gave the Keynote Address. • Dr. Amrita Rangasami represented the impoverished communities of Kalahandi and neighboring districts in Orissa through a PIL initially before the Supreme Court and subsequently before the National Human Rights Commission.

2002-03

• Report submitted to Food & Agriculture Organization (UN) in Jan, 2003 on "Food Insecurity in the Kalahandi region of Orissa.” • Dr. Amrita Rangasami presented a Paper on “Emergency Relief: the role of the Nutrition Scientist" at the IX Asian Congress on Nutrition, New Delhi. • Dr. Amrita Rangasami presented a paper on "The Right to Food & Development: the terms of debate in India" at the United Nation's Special Committee on Nutrition, Swaminathan Foundation, Chennai. • Dr. Amrita Rangasami presented a paper on "Marginalization, Impoverishment & Famine" at the XIII World Congress of Sociology organized by the International Sociological Association in Brisbane, Australia. • At the request of the National Human Rights Commission, Dr. Amrita Rangasami went to Orissa to find a resolution to the issue of Food Insecurity and recurrent Famine-like situations in Kalahandi and neighboring districts and developed a consensus between the impoverished communities and the Govt. of Orissa. As a consequence, the Govt. of Orissa filed an Affidavit affirming the issues and there resolution recommended by her and promised to eliminate destitution in the said districts.

2003-04

• Dr. Amrita Rangasami was appointed Advisor to the Twelfth Finance Commission, responsible for working out Policy Recommendations on Calamity Relief Financing to State Governments. • Dr. Amrita Rangasami undertook a Research Project on the "Tenurial Insecurity and Nexus with Food Insecurity in the Kalahandi Region of Orissa" supported by the Indian Council of Social Science Research. • Dr. Amrita Rangasami gave an address at the Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford on 'Poverty & Famine' at the invitation of the Oxford University members of Famine & Society. The Meeting was chaired by Prof Barbara Harris, Director of Queen Elizabeth House. • Dr. Rangasami presented a Paper on “ Food in India with specific reference to Kalahandi" at the Food & Agriculture Organization (UN), at Rome, Italy. • Dr. Rangasami gave on address on" Right to food" at the Forum of NGO's in Rome, Italy. • The proceedings of the NHRC held in January 2002-03 affirmed Dr. Amrita Rangasami’s contention that the Courts in India must take cognizance of starvation as injury" and this was published in the Journal of the NHRC in 2003-04 vindicating her theoretical contribution on the subject.

2004-05

• In the course of pursuing a Research Project on "Tsunami relief, role of the State & Civil Society," Dr. Rangasami organized two Workshops • Workshop I, February, 5, 2005. • Workshop II, April 23, 2005. • Dr. Rangasami presented a Paper on "Poverty, Violence and Under Development" at the Grassroots Colloquium organized by the Developing Countries Research Centre, University of Delhi. • As Advisor to the 12th Finance Commission, Dr. Ransasami submitted a substantive Report on Calamity Relief:  Rationalizing the system of allocation of Calamity Relief funds to the State governments from the National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF) by working out suitable guidelines entrenched in past experience.  Drawing the attention of the Finance Commission to huge transfers of food grains by the FCI to the State Governments which were used for Calamity Relief in the form of food grains allocation to persons working in Relief Programmes by adjusting the grains against manual labour at the Ration Price even though the food grains were allocated free by the Government of India.  Using satellite data provided by ISRO and assessing comparative gravity of different calamities thereby placing Calamity Relief on a more scientific footing. • Dr. Amrita Rangasami was invited by the National Remote Sensing Authority to present a paper on the "Utility of Satellite Data for the Calamity Relief Allocations to State Govts."

2005-06

• Dr. Rangasami gave an address at the London School of Economics on "Financing Calamity Relief.” • Dr. Rangasami presented a Paper on "A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to the Study of Poverty" at a Seminar organized by the Department of History, University of Kiel, Germany. • As Member of the "Right to Food Group" of the National Human Rights Commission, Dr. Rangasami made several written submissions on the "Right to Food" to the Commission.

2006-07

• Dr. Ransasami presented a paper on "Agrarian Indebtedness: A Construct" at a Colloquium organized by the Developing Countries Research Centre, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi. • Dr. Rangasami presented two Papers at the World Congress of Sociology held at Durban: one on "Financing Disaster Relief-India's Approach, its Relevance and Applicability" to the Research Committee on "Disaster Management" and the other on "Poverty, Marginalization & Destitution" to the Working Group (05) on Famine and Society (South Africa 2006). • Dr. Rangasami met with Satyabrata Pal, India's High Commissioner to South Africa for framing a joint approach with South Africa on Calamity Relief (Pretoria, South Africa, 2006). • Dr. Rangasami held a Meeting with Justice Albie Sachs, Member, Reconciliation Commission of South Africa on common strategies related to Marginalization and Human Rights. • Dr. Rangasami delivered an address at the University of Pretoria on "Impoverishment & Famine" (South Africa, 2006).

Select, Salient Achievements of CSAR from 2007-08 to 2011-12

• Dr. Rangasami held several meetings under the aegis of the National Human Rights Commission in pursuance of the Right to Food Security and for enhancing the minimum relief given per family during a national calamity. • Dr. Rangasami revisited the Tsunami affected areas in Tamilnadu and evaluated the utilization of relief funds and the impact of relief activities on people affected. • Dr. Rangasami visited Rajasthan for field visits in Jaisalmer District and held a meeting with the State Relief Commissioner and his officers in Jaipur for charting-out the future policy on Disaster Relief. • Dr. Rangasami visited Karnataka for reviewing past data on relief, impact of earlier relief operations and assessment of relief needs for the future. • Dr. Rangasami visited Andhra Pradesh and made an assessment of relief operations during previous cyclones/calamities and undertook a perspective planning exercise for the future. • Dr. Rangasami attended several meetings of the 13th Finance Commission as a Consultant for Disaster Management Relief culminating in a substantive Report on the subject. • Dr. Rangasami held a meeting with Dr. Barbara Harris and Dr. Harrell-Bond on Poverty Alleviation and Disaster Relief at Oxford University (2010). • Dr. Rangasami held a meeting with “Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford on “Budgeting and planning for Disaster Relief (2010).” • Dr. Rangasami presented two papers, one on "Food Security" and the other on "Vocabulary of Relief" at the World Congress of Sociology at Gothenburg in Sweden (2010). • In collaboration with the D.A.V Centenary College, Faridabad, organised a UGC sponsored National Seminar on "Human Rights Awareness" on 25th - 26th March, 2011.