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.
Pathology and Gandhi Philosophy: Solution to Minimise COVID Cases
Mr. Rakesh Paliwal (Retd. Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh) made a realistic assessment of this second wave of Covid looking at the structures of these two states, mainly on the basis of two frameworks or perspectives – pathology and Gandhi philosophy. Share your views while giving advice.
While appealing to save the villages first in order to avoid the horrors of Covid, he suggested adopting the ideas of the Father of the Nation, Late Mahatma Gandhi, saying that it should be in the present rural scenario and not on the lines of ancient society.
In the same context, he based the data on the growth of the first and second wave of Covid (where in the first wave it took 3 months to go from 1000 to 1 lakh, in the second wave it increased from 10 thousand to 4 lakh cases within a span of days). But stating that it is difficult to fight this disaster, expressed concern about the failure of government schemes and not being effective on the ground (by the central and state governments taking policy decisions ignoring rural realities and diversity of India in closed AC rooms etc.)
Apart from this, considering the present scenario of Indian villages, the administrative officers were suggested to implement the schemes, especially in relation to the District Magistrate (Under the administrative system, an administrative officer has to travel from DM to Secretary for about 30 years, As a result, they get acquainted with the rural society for the first and last time only during the training period of their service).
Also, the sequence of Covid preparedness has to be considered in advance so that large scale failures are not seen.
In the same sequence, while sharing the information about his administrative initiatives related to the preparedness of Covid in the state last month, he said that in this he provided detailed information about the schemes prepared by 36 NGOs of 12 states of the country.
It is in this context that he described how there are about 7 model villages in five parts of the country (mainly in Telangana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh) with some Gandhian institutions that are entirely (100%) tribal areas. and out of these basically, 4 come under the category of tribal villages) the initiative has been taken.
Also, during his speech, Mr. Paliwal shared many of his administrative experiences. On other aspects of planning, he explained the role of all the public representatives (Sarpanch, Panchayat Secretary and members of Panchayat) and various stakeholders of rural self-government unit (Patwari, Forest Guard, Police Constable, Anganwadi and Asha workers and NGOs etc.) at the Panchayat level. There is a need for strict adherence to development.
In sequence, it is also suggested that any one NGO in the direction of realizing the concept of an ideal village by adopting Gandhian approach. Also, he also criticized the NGOs and their financial irregularities and corrupt practices in the country.
In the direction of making self-reliant, capable and empowered at the micro level by taking full responsibility for the development of at least 5 villages of the state. .
In the end, he shared Gandhiji’s views as described in “Hind Swaraj” and said that there is only one bad thing in relation to the village and that is the terrible laziness and filth among the villagers – which always obstructs the path of their development. At the same time, it also claimed that the cleanliness mission has contributed to a great extent.
The challenges of rural sanitation have been reduced to the present. Also, giving information about the organization of webinar for 2 hours every week by 36 NGOs and their representatives from different states of the country mentioned above, describing it as necessary in the direction of micro level action plans of rural society, various media-groups By registering an objection to not appreciating or promoting the good works of such NGOs, he took a break from his words.
Shri Rakesh Paliwal shares some thoughts, suggestions and points through his personal experiences while advocating for adopting a neo-liberal approach in the revival of rural society, justifying the relevance of Gandhi in the 21st century, they are as follows :
1. Establishment of Model Village: By doing any construction work in the village on the strength of rural labour, the villagers inculcate a sense of moral importance and they are ready to protect those services throughout their life.
2. In the present COVID scenario, there is a need for scientific upgradation of Indian villages, while discussing the responsibility of social audit of NGOs and 14 points described in the direction of constructive program of rural development of Gandhi’s theory written in “Hind Swaraj”.
3. Inevitability of solving the problems of the villagers in their local dialect or language.
4. Example of corruption free village and village of Medha Lekha in Gadchiroli [Prevailing slogan: our government in Delhi and Bombay and we are the government in our village].
5. Rural development in totality and the concept of COVID-free village – better health and sanitation, proper food security, organic farming, drinking water supply, awareness campaign for covid appropriate behaviour, etc.
6. Idea Exchange Approach – For overall development and sustainability of villages, we have to exchange ideas with villagers (on nature and diagnostics).
7. Preparedness for Contingency- We have to prepare or strengthen Panchayati Raj Institutions with strong will so that they can coordinate properly with other stakeholders.