New Delhi: In what is being seen as the ministry of home affairs’ (MHA) attempt at upping its brand value, its disaster response arm—the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)—is now the subject of a case study involving an organization working in a high-risk area.

The case study by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi is projecting NDRF as a public sector brand to explore change, leadership and branding initiatives in large-scale organizations.

The study is set to be launched in the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), where business management students will be taught “appropriate brand management strategies that lead to the success of an organization which is not working for profit".

According to government statistics, every year nearly 4.8 million people are affected by natural and man-made disasters in India—a number that is likely to go up to nearly 19 million by 2030.

“This will be a huge boost for the organization, which is at the forefront of managing a disaster. The most important exercise that we had undertaken was when the Nepal earthquake struck in 2015, which killed more than 9,000 people and left more than 22,000 injured. The NDRF had sent out 16 teams that conducted night rescue operations to pull out people from the debris," said O.P. Singh, director general of the Central Industrial Security Force and former director general of NDRF.

All was not well with the NDRF till a year ago, when the organization’s resources and operations languished under neglect. In March 2015, the standing committee on the MHA noted that the budget allotment to NDRF in 2014-15—Rs200 crore—had been returned unspent. The budget estimates were later revised to Rs50 crore, but only a little more than Rs7 crore of this amount was spent.

“There was no focus or interest to develop the force in the last 10 years. Nobody was interested in making it work or buying equipment that we desperately needed. It was just another ordinary organization," Singh added.

A step in the right direction was taken late last year, when the NDRF spent Rs52 crore to buy equipment such as gas and hydraulic cutters.

Although the NDRF was set up as a mandated response force under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, MHA officials said the onus of responding to disasters was on the states.

“The NDRF is still growing. No organization is up and running overnight. It has made huge progress and is one of the most effective response teams in India. In case of any natural disaster, it is the state that needs to act first and the NDRF supplements those relief efforts," said an MHA official requesting anonymity.

The number of NDRF battalions has grown from six in 2006 to 12 now.

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