To discuss the ways to tackle the spread of the second wave in rural areas, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS) and Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi organized a Panel Discussion on “Rural Realities: Gujarat Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian villages“ on May 14, 2021.
The panelists for the session included Mr. Umashankar Yadav, Founder-Director at Ahmedabad International Literature Festival; Ms. Hiral Dave, Program Head at Cohesion Foundation Trust; Ms. Poonam Kathuria, Director, Society for Women’s Action and Training Initiative – SWATI; Mr. Rafi Malek, Director at Centre for Development in Ahmedabad; Dr. Deepak Acharya, Consultant at Development Support Agency, Gujarat and State Medicinal Plant Board and; Ms. Shushila Prajapati, Program Manager, ActionAid Association.
The discussion was introduced by the moderator of the panel Dr. Mansee Bal Bhargava, an entrepreneur, researcher, and educator from the Eco-Development and Research cell in Ahmedabad.
Role of Panchayat
Dr. Deepak Acharya followed Mr. Malek with his enlightening thoughts. He pointed out that the treatments given during the initial phase of the first wave of the pandemic were given keeping in mind that the virus had not yet reached its deadliest peak, or even close. However, the longer a particular variant remains in a particular community, the faster it modifies and mutilates into more variants. Panic and chaos amidst the second wave led to a lot of misinformation which further made matters worse.
Rural India was fully complacent even as the second wave of the pandemic took the urban cities by storm, thinking it would not reach them. This was the result of a lack of communication from the Government and relevant stakeholders with the people living in villages. The need to bridge the information gap was stronger than ever before. Dr. Acharya emphasizes the need to take the Panchayat members and the youth in the rural areas into confidence since they’d be in a position to help rally forces to combat the virus in these places.
He also spoke about the need to get at least 60-70% of the population in India to get vaccinated as soon as possible. However, this is not at all an easy goal to achieve because of apprehensions about where the vaccine is concerned or vaccine shortage, or other such factors. This has resulted in a lot of mismanagement.
Moreover, the lack of accurate knowledge and incorrect information led to the wrong or negligible treatment which further led to many deaths in Indian villages. In order to avoid mismanagement and ignorance, it is imperative to give people a clear picture and help them understand the urgency of the calamity at hand.