This panel discussion was related to the working experiences of various professionals especially in the wake of the second wave of COVID in Indian villages. It was organized by the Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS) and “Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi” on 20th May 2021 by the joint efforts of “Parmarth Sevi Sanstha” (Uttar Pradesh). This discussion was another episode of the “Panel Discussion” being organized by the institute for all the states of the country, whose central point should be the rural reality of the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and the issues related to it.
This program was initiated by Ritika Gupta (Assistant Director) of “Institute of Impact and Policy Research”. Dr Simi Mehta (Chief Executive Officer and Editorial Director, Impact and Policy Research Institute) while preparing the background for this panel discussion, while welcoming all the visitors said that the goal of this is to find out by presenting a proper discussion. What is the present status of the second wave of COVID in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and what are the efforts being made at the ground level by various stakeholders in this regard?
The list of eminent panellists who mainly participated in this panel discussion is as follows- Dr Smt. F. Kazmi (Executive Director, NGO “Parvarish Child Development & Health Care Institute”), Dr Sanjay Singh (Waterman of Bundelkhand, Secretary, Parmarth Samaj Seva Sansthan), Dr Yogesh Kumar (Founder Member & Executive Director, Support – Development Assistance Centre), Shri Devi Das (Farmer MG, Support), Ms Abha Sharma (Director, Judav Foundation, Bhopal), Shri Bhupesh Tiwari (President, Fellow Social Service Organization, Chhattisgarh). Mr Rakesh Paliwal (Retd. Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh) and Mrs Anjali Noronha (Fellow, Eklavya) and Dr Anshuman Karoli (Lead – Local Government, Priya, (PRIA) New Delhi) etc.
Role of Government Institutions in Strengthening Health System
Mr Bal Paritosh Das (Social Security, UNICEF, Chhattisgarh) shared his views on institutional initiatives to address the problems arising out of the second wave of COVID, giving a comprehensive overview of the working of the United Nations Children’s Fund. He explained how this phase, while affecting the health system in a harmful way, also poses a challenge to the assessment and response aspects.
In the context of multi-dimensional poverty, both the states – Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have seen results of 44% and 12% respectively in comparison to urban areas. Also, during this time all the indicators like health, nutrition, water supply, sanitation, child protection and child marriage etc. should be badly damaged. In the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh state (which is an operational district), the vulnerability rate was high due to Covid and widespread lockdown.
Further, Mr. Das described mainly two types of impacts-
- The multiple, mass lockdowns imposed in the states affected the livelihood very closely and significantly.
- In this phase of this epidemic, examples of problems and public damage of children and orphans were found across the state, but the plight of migrant workers crossing the border of the states in the previous phase was not seen. But this time, the problem of food production etc. dominated them on the return of their habitats during the farming season.
Therefore, in the context of the above-mentioned effects, Shri Das stressed on the role of all civil society and non-governmental organizations for a speedy resolution and expressed the expectation of their cooperation. Along with this, he also expressed concern over the badly affected children’s education during the Corona period, saying that it is seriously pushing their development towards oblivion. Apart from this, the services of pregnant women in rural areas such as their prenatal care and iron deficiency problems etc. remained stable during this period.
Although the provisional level report on MGNREGA and PDS is not yet published in the state, which has hindered the assessment of social security schemes, the more serious problem remains in the tribal areas here.
At the same time, the reach of Divyangjan, old-age pension schemes is only 2-3% at the village level and the reach of the Maternity Security Benefit Scheme is slightly less, which is less than 50%.
In this sequence, it was told that they are discussing all the information and issues related to the important role of the Panchayati Raj Institution in the Bastar region. At the same time, appealing for public cooperation to improve awareness of security schemes, said that all of us various stakeholder groups are just like a pearl in this “ocean of society”, whose sole purpose is to prosper and enrich the society.