While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world alike, its impact on the public from disparate socio-economic standings has been unequal. Facilities such as hospital beds, oxygen, medicines, etc have been scarce during the second wave. Keeping in line with this and in continuation of the rural realities webinar series, the Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on “Rural Realities Practitioners’ Experience in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages” on June 1st, 2021.
Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla; Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI laid the groundwork for the session by discussing the public health challenges and role of the government in India, and policy actions in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
The IMPRI team gave a brief presentation in order to provide an overview of the union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. They informed the participants about the state’s geographical and socio-economic status and gave insight into the situation of COVID-19 in India and the union territories, highlighting pertinent emerging issues.
Mr Tikender Singh Panwar questioned whether the structures built for tackling public health challenges in our country are sufficient or not.
There is an important dimension of the pandemic that we are witnessing in J&K and Ladakh. It’s that the Disaster Management Act flows from the PM to the CM and to the DM. But there is no CM in J&K. We have a Council in Ladakh and Kargil but they very disempowered. It’s been a long time since we’d have an elected government in J&K. All these factors also need to be kept in mind.
- The government policy action has to be consistent with the development of health and economic sectors.
- Investment in public health infrastructure is a major aspect in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Delayed testing has to be avoided by creating awareness and cooperation among residents.
- Relief packages for Below Poverty Line people will support the people.
- By monitoring entry points into the union territories, the number of new cases can be controlled.
- Telecommunication facilities have to be set up in rural areas to support online education.