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 | Karnataka Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave” on May 21, 2021.
The esteemed panelists were Dr. Basavaraju R Shreshta, Executive Director, Grassroots Research And Advocacy Movement (GRAAM), Mysore; Dr. Priya Shanmugam, Faculty, Department of Economics, Mount Carmel College Autonomous, Bengaluru; Mr. Leo Saldanha, Founding Trustee and Coordinator, Environment Support Group, Bengaluru; Mr. Nitesh Kumar Jangir, Co-Founder, Coeo Labs Pvt. Ltd. (An InnAccel Division), Bengaluru; Dr. Purnima Madhivanan, Associate Professor, Public Health, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College, The University of Arizona; Dr. Nazrul Haque, Assistant Professor, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru; Dr. M R Seetharam, Consultant Orthopedic surgeon, Vivekananda Memorial Hospital; Core Member, SVYM and Dr. Jyotsna Jha, Director, Centre for Budget and Policy Studies (CBPS), Bengaluru as the discussant.
The moderator of the session was Prof Krishna Raj, Professor, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore. He initiated the discussion by asserting that India is facing an unprecedented health and livelihood crisis. Coronavirus is widespread in rural and urban areas in India and subsequently, India has reported the highest death rate in the world. Health and infrastructure system are inadequate. Due to focus on election campaigning and religious congregations, Government has neglected the second wave, thus it’s a man-made disaster.
As Amartya Sen has mentioned during the famine of 1942-43 that the major reason for deaths was not availability of health infrastructure but lack of supply to the needy people at the right time, same situation is repeating now in 2021. Mismanagement is a huge issue. Availability of life saving oxygen, medicines and beds are less. Children with malnutrition in rural areas is another grave concern. Grassroot NGOs can play a vital role in rural areas in creating awareness as there are layers of health issues.
Prof Krishna Raj presented the following questions before the panelists:
- Whether government has taken timely initiative or prevented the outbreak of COVID to the extent it was in its hands?
- Question of Reverse migration and food infra in rural areas.
- Role of institutions like NGOs.
- Is Theory of survival of the fittest coming true?
- How-to bring institutions together in times like these?
Prof Krishna Raj said that Government has to be pro-active. Policies have to be consistent and NGOs role is of vital importance. Timely availability of oxygen has to ensured and health infrastructure need to be strengthened on a priority basis.