Economic Transformation of the Nicobar Islands Post-tsunami

A Material Import–Export Analysis


  • Shaina Sehgal Ambedkar University Delhi
  • Suresh Babu School of Human Ecology, Ambedkar University Delhi, Lothian Road, Kashmere Gate, Delhi – 110006



Physical Trade; Nicobar Islands; Economic Transformation; Natural Disaster; Tsunami.


Natural disasters can have lasting impacts on regional economies. Island economies, in particular, have protracted recoveries from disasters due to their location, size, and economic dependence on trading partners. As imports and exports are especially explicit and discernible in ports, islands facilitate investigations on the long-term effects of disaster relief, reconstruction, and redevelopment on trade. In this paper, we examine the transformational impact of the 2004 Indian ocean earthquake and tsunami. We examine changes to physical imports and exports in the archipelago to reflect on the social, economic, and ecological impacts of the 2004 disaster and subsequent recovery. We analyse disaggregated physical import and export data for 2003–2017 from revenue ports in the Nicobar Islands in India along with data from field surveys and interviews conducted on the islands. We find that while the archipelago’s physical trade balance has been continuously growing since 2003, it increased at a higher rate after the disaster and thereafter stabilized to levels comparable to the pre-tsunami period. However, further analysis indicates that the nature and quantity of physical imports during this period, such as of fuel and construction materials, are unprecedented; and there are diverging trajectories of redevelopment within the archipelago...


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Author Biography

Shaina Sehgal, Ambedkar University Delhi

Research Scholar, School of Human Ecology, Ambedkar University Delhi, Lothian Road, Kashmere Gate, Delhi – 110006


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2021-07-31 — Updated on 2021-07-31