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Vulnerable India

Vulnerable India
A Geographical Study of Disasters

First Edition
  • Anu Kapur - Associate Professor of Geography, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi.

August 2016 | 292 pages | SAGE India
This book de-myths the oft repeated claim of ‘natural disaster’ and puts forward socio-economic factors as the cause for the recurrence of disasters. With this framework, the author examines the popular notion of the Vulnerable India in psycho-geographical terms and unmasks the dimensions of vulnerability itself. In doing so the author foregrounds the factors that create and perpetuate vulnerability of the marginalized sections of the society and of the nation and redefines the phrase Vulnerable India. Presenting a national level inquiry, the three sections of the book called the Fact, Response, and Reality, spell a convincing argument for why disasters recur in India.

To provide a historical understanding of India’s continued failure to adequately contain damage to life and property, the book unravels the perceptions of disasters in traditional, colonial and modern India. It redefines the debate on new terms such as ‘disasterscape’, ‘the killed’, ‘disaster index’, ‘disaster divide’ and ‘vulnerability cluster’, to better represent the patterns that engender vulnerability. With the aid of exhaustive research, comparative statistical analyses and illustrative maps, it provides incisive insight into 16 different geophysicals across 594 districts of the country.

This book is ideal for students of geography, environmental sociology, development studies, social work and disaster management, and also for policy makers.

Foreword Gopal Krishan
India's Disasterscape
Disasterscape Ascribed to the Naturals
Traditional: Absorb and Appeal
Colonial: The Idea of 'Natural' Disaster
Post Independence (1947-1990): Apathy and Blame
Globalisation1990 Onwards: Recognition not Realisation
Vulnerable India
A Disaster Divide
Image Credits

As a contribution to the evolving literature on the social vulnerability of people and places to environmental hazards, Kapur’s book provides an excellent overview of India’s disasterscape… Vulnerable India is a valuable reference for anyone interested in studying natural disasters in India or vulnerability to disasters in developing countries. The information compiled from many different sources and presented in this book fills an important gap, because reliable data on disasters in India and their social implications are not easily available. The book should also serve as a useful resource for students interested in learning how to summarize or map data on the distribution of hazardous events and social vulnerability to hazards at the regional or national scale.

The Professional Geographer

The interdisciplinary approach and content of this book make it an outstanding contribution to the disaster literature…The facts of Indian disasters are described from a bird- and an insect-eye’s view….It successfully establishes a sense of human vulnerability to disasters in India…it is an essential read for practitioners and students across various disciplines including geography, sociology, environment, development and disaster studies.

Asia Pacific Viewpoint

The finely parsed data might make for dense reading, but it also provides a comprehensive reference and a timely indictment of the weak state response and infrastructure that have caused so many more lives to be lost than need have been.

The Times of India

The book shows that the rigor of academic work can pave the foundations for practical action by policy makers and decision-makers. Aesthetically designed and attractively printed, Vulnerable India is worth its price.

Vulnerable India is an outstanding research on calamities and their disastrous consequences for communities that they befall. The book researches the underprivileged, the poor, the disadvantaged and the disabled, dissecting how they are affected by natural disasters.


Presentation of such diverse and detail statistics requires an enormous amount of research and such a collection would be hard to come by. It stands out in the crowd for its immense informative value. The book is an ideal reference material for students of disaster management, environmental science, environmental sociology, geography and development studies. The print quality, colourful graphs and maps will create an immediate positive impression on the minds of the intended buyers. Without exploring the contents of the book, it can be ascertained that the bibliography is of quite an exhaustive nature which in itself could be a rich platform for any further research in this subject.

Economic & Political Weekly

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