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  • Writer's pictureVikrant Vartak

Crisis (/Disaster) Management Lessons from the Movie Mission Raniganj

Based on the real-life story of bravery & ingenuity of Mining Engineer Jaswant Singh Gill - played very well by Akshay Kumar - the movie offers some wonderful lessons on Crisis Management. The movie echos the learning from Amanda Ripley's well-acclaimed book "The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why". Let's look at some notable ones.

1) The book is divided into three basic sections to coincide with what she describes as the ‘survival arc’, or the process that all survivors go through during the disaster. These stages are: ‘denial’, ‘deliberation’ and ‘the decisive moment’. The movie follows a similar course.

2) Effective disaster management plans should have an intimate understanding of how individuals will behave, as well as a technical understanding of the disaster and how it will unfold. Gill is shown super-armed with both.

3) The book delves into the psychology of crisis management and provides valuable insights into how people react during disasters and crises. Here are two interesting concepts.

a) Normalcy Bias: There is the tendency of people to underestimate the severity of a crisis or to believe that "everything will be fine." The initial part of the movie shows this bias severaly impeding effective crisis management effort.

b) The Paradox of Panic: Contrary to popular belief, panic is not the most common reaction during a crisis. Rather people often freeze. Mr. Ujjwal (played by Kumud Mishra) who plays the CMD of Raniganj Coalfields is shown drawn into this stage. On the other hand, Gill, a trained crisis manager, maintains his composure and also has a deep understanding of how other individuals react under extreme stress.

4) Adaptability and the ability to remain calm under pressure are key psychological factors in crisis management. Gill demonstrates extraordinary resilience and works up an ambitious, seemingly-impossible plan and works it to execution in the face of umpteen setbacks and failures.

5) Author emphasizes the importance of community and social support during and after a crisis. Gill is shown to be a master at this art as he rallies support of the 65 trapped mine workers, the countless onlookers who are worried about their loved ones, and his seniors & peers (both friendly & the hostile ones). He goes out of the way to rope in his trusted comrades: contractor Bindal (played by Pavan Malhotra) and the initially-hesitant Tapan Ghosh (played by Veerendra Saxena).

While the subject matter of the movie is dark and foreboding, it also shows that survival is possible even in the most horrific and tragic of events.

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