Collective Strategies and Windfall Catches: Fisher Responses to Tsunami Relief Efforts in South India

Maarten Bavinck


To the surprise of both governments and NGOs, village-level caste organisations – or panchayats - played a significant role in the post-tsunami relief effort to fisher-men in Tamil Nadu, India. This paper discusses the pro-active role of caste pancha-yats in relief from the perspective of social resilience, a factor that is frequently ar-gued to be of importance for disaster management. It presents panchayat action as an expression of collective agency that has a long tradition in the fishing villages of the region. Finally, comparing the reactions of caste panchayats in the post-tsunami situation with their performance in other instances of collective need, it considers their future role in fields such as fisheries management.

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