In continuation with the ongoing discussions on the Rural Realities around the country, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi and International Institute of Migration and Development (IIMAD), Kerala organized a Panel Discussion on “Rural Realities |Kerala | Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages” on May 20, 2021, as the second wave of coronavirus pandemic is engulfing the length and breadth of our country, India, and hitting the heartland of our country which is the rural areas.
The IMPRI team informed the discussion by locating for the event participants the situation of COVID 19 in India and Kerala. The team also provided an insight into the geography and Socio economic conditions of the state. The rationale was to provide the participants with an overview of the state of Kerala.
Mr. John Samuel, Former International Director, ActionAid Association highlighted on first wave and second wave crisis in the state and said that looking at the COVID situation in early march onwards in 2020 in the first wave, we did very well with strict restrictions following but after the initial four months the extent of the COVID spread started increasing in the state. He however criticized the carelessness observed in political campaigning conducted in Kerala in view of elections and highlighted that it was probably the major reason of losing control over the situation during second wave. In the second wave Kerala’s action was delayed due to elections and it failed to curtail the pandemic effectively.
Talking on the positives of the state he said that Kerala has the highest per capita beds in the hospitals with public health care system right up to the PHCs. Secondly there exist a very good local governance system. Thirdly the state also has one of the best private health care system. He further stated that Kerala has a very active civil society with active NGOs, resident associations and political parties. There exist collective sense of responsibility and social capital and solidarity in Kerala.
Talking about economic consequences Mr. John said that Kerala has a huge number of vulnerable middle class which have been severely pushed back by COVID crisis and government should take measures to protect them.
Responding to a question of international learning for Kerala in handling COVID crisis Mr. John said that as far as COVID is considered international comparison is very difficult because context matters a lot. For the Kerala he said that tackling with COVID crisis the state won the battle but unfortunately lost the war due to political intervention due to elections.