The panel discussion was focused upon the conditions of the Indian villages and to share the insights and experiences of the practitioners located in the respective locations. The panel discussion is a part of an expansive series of discussions themed upon the rural realities of Indian villages in the face of the second wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The discussions are organized by the Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi on the 15 May 2021.
The program was commenced by the Assistant Director at IMPRI Ritika Gupta. Followed by which were the opening remarks from Dr. Simi Mehta Editorial CEO at IMPRI. The speakers were introduced and the foreground was laid for the conversation to begin in regards to the ground reality of the villages in the states of Jharkhand and Bihar in the Second Wave of the COVID Pandemic from the eyes and experiences of the practitioners.
Smt. Deepika Singh Pandey (MLA- Mahagama Constituency, Jharkhand) while apprised of the situation in the rural areas of her state during the second wave of COVID, confidently expressed her views on various aspects and how the government handled this disaster. A strong and comprehensive strategy has been devised to deal with it.
In this sequence, the vaccination program for people in the age group of 18-44 years has also been officially started from 14th May 2021 in the state of Jharkhand. Describing the ground reality of the horrific situation of this epidemic in the state, she kept her words quite firmly.
At the same time, she told how while discharging her official duties, she is well aware of the health related issues of the far eastern areas of her constituency and is also providing basic facilities there in this direction. In this sequence, the work of testing, medicines and vaccination etc. is being done in the public, as well as in this era of disaster, food security of the marginalized sections of the society is being ensured through the public distribution system.
Honorable MLA also expressed some concerns as to how it may prove to be a hindrance in controlling this second wave, so efforts in this direction with a precise strategy and commitment are the need of the hour.
In this sequence, the honorable lady MLA supported Dr. Nalin and said that at this time we have to proceed with caution, but with strictness. In this context, he gave the example of the districts of East Jharkhand and told how they have set an example by resolving the issues related to migrant and food security properly and simply.
She further states that the policy decisions taken at the right time by the government have been successful to some extent in mitigating the effects of this second wave of COVID. In order not to create a stampede, the government immediately did everything possible to ensure availability of beds, oxygen, medicines etc. in adequate number of hospitals.
Also, keeping in view the daily needs and employment aspects of the public, the state government first partially implemented the rule of lockdown, so that normal life is not affected. But in view of the spread of COVID, the government declared a complete lockdown across the state from May 16, 2021.
It is to be known that in this phase of corona in Jharkhand, the sudden death rate had increased and this time its effect was seen more in rural areas. Apart from this, she said that in Jharkhand, due to lack of clear information about the symptoms of COVID and other diseases like typhoid fever etc., confusion prevailed and due to lack of proper treatment, the death toll has also increased in the last months. Apart from this, the situation went out of control due to lack of proper medical treatment and home-isolation rules and awareness after being infected with COVID.
At the same time, Smt. Deepika Singh Pandey said that she is also active at the private level to ensure that all facilities are available to the public. While sharing the upcoming plans, said that our government is fully committed that a number of medical equipment should be available in all the PHS and CHS at the block and panchayat level, because if the rural people get all the facilities at their nearest health centers. If found, they will be able to get fast treatment and there will be no rush and chaos in the hospitals of the cities.
She also shared a statement on the issue of rural economy and said that as we know that there are not many industries in the state of Jharkhand, so the lower class sections are mainly involved in agriculture, cultivators and construction work etc. At the same time, the government is making tireless efforts that such people should be provided employment under MNREGA at the panchayat level in their area.
In this sequence, good quality seeds are being made available to the farmers under subsidy from the government initiative so that they do not face the financial burden in this critical period of COVID. Apart from the above mentioned schemes, under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), money is being transferred directly into the bank accounts of the people, so that they get a monetary strength.
The Honorable MLA further shared some of the challenges faced by her state regarding vaccination and said that:
IMPRI’s study based question “Will giving a minimum amount of Rs 2000 per month under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) be a good option?” – Answering this, said that the government’s goal is that in the hour of this disaster People should be empowered to meet their minimum needs, for which help is being provided to the public through public distribution system and free vaccination etc.