Skip to main content

Learn lessons from Kerala how they dealt with covid crisis: Himachal civil society

By Our Representative 
As the country enter the phase two of the lockdown imposed as a move to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of close to 50 civil society groups, community organisations, activists and concerned citizens of Himachal Pradesh have issued a public appeal in order to address the steps that need to be taken, so that the state is able to respond to this public health crisis and the impacts of the lockdown in a just and effective manner. 
The signatories from various parts of the state said in the statement, "We express our gratitude towards those who have worked day in and day out in the last three weeks to ensure the safety and health of the citizens and we understand the seriousness of this crisis".
The statement says that while the population of Himachal Pradesh is quite low, just about 68.6 lakh, the state faces a major problem: Several lakh migrant workers work here in industrial units and orchards. At the same time, around one crore people come to the state as tourists every year to visit Manali, Shimla, Dharmashala and other places.
The state’s public health network is incapable handling such a huge inflow, it says. Several of the state’s regions, such as Kangra, Una, Sirmaur, Chamba and Solan, do not have good health facilities, while people of remote areas like Saraj, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti have a major problem in getting any medical aid during winter.
The statement highlights concerns that have arisen in the aftermath of the curfew and lock-down in Himachal Pradesh. Some of the important issues raised and suggested steps/measures to be taken include:
  • There is a need to increase the frequency of tests because the test rate in Himachal Pradesh is currently lower than our two neighbouring states, Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and Uttarakhand.
  • There is a need to end myths, social stigma, hate and fear-mongering around the disease, especially against vulnerable communities. 
  • Strict and immediate legal action should be taken in cases of violence against migrant labourers, health workers and members of minorities. 
  • There is a need to adhere to guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Indian Concul of Medical Research (ICMR), which have advised against communal profiling while reporting about the disease. 
  • There is a need to strengthen the public health system and emergency response mechanism (safety plus testing kits/beds/personnel/ventilators etc.) and report the status of the same in media briefs on a daily basis. 
  • The government should provide information in public domain on status of the relief work and facilities extended to lower income group families, migrant and daily-wage labourers and other vulnerable communities. 
  • There is a need to fulfill fodder, seeds and other needs of farmers/ livestock-rearers, as suggested by farmer organisations. At the same time, the government must ensure that movement of pastoral communities continues unhindered and they do not face hurdles locally, even as they continue practicing physical distancing. 
  • The government must ensure access of all Central and state government relief schemes and release daily bulletins on the same. 
  • The state must involve non-governmental organisations and activists in a co-ordination, planning and lockdown exit plan at the district level. 
  • The state ensure the safety of health workers and frontline health personnel, even as ensuring availability of other health services to patients who may be in dire need of medical help. 
  • There should be a 24 hour helplines for women who may be in distress due to domestic violence and abuse or other types of harassment. 
  • The state should take steps to address the problem of those who may be stuck outside the state – allowing their return into the state after adequate testing and quarantine measures. 
  • Special measures should to be taken keeping in mind the non-accessibility of remote and inaccessible regions like Lahaul Spiti and Kinnaur, where the disease may spread during winter. 
The lock-down exit strategy task force should chart out a long-term plan to put in place a robust bottom up institutional mechanism at the district, block, panchayat and ward levels, the statement says.
It adds, through these channels, quarantine and public health facilities, status of essential commodities and services, handling of coronavirus testing, condition of migrant workers, status of daily wage labourers and other vulnerable section, should be monitored during lock-down extension period. The police and vigilance departments may work in close co-ordination with these channels.
According to the statement, “This is the time when mountain communities, mostly residing in rural, remote, difficult and far-flung areas, need each other’s solidarity and support to survive the lockdown period and to deal with the disease together. Maintaining peace and harmony must be the priority and responsibility of each and every citizen of the state, especially the media and the state apparatus.”
The statement asserts, “Himachal Pradesh is a state that was until a few years ago neck to neck with Kerala in some of the social development indicators like health, education and basic infrastructure. We need to learn our lessons from the example of Kerala and how they have dealt with the COVID-19 crisis. As a small state with a low density of population and a resilient community we have many advantages that we must use at this moment.”
---
Click HERE to read full statement in Hindi and signatories

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Vadodara violence: Fine Arts Faculty alumni raise fingers at Varsity's political appointee

Hasmukh Vaghela with PM Counterview Desk  In a statement, alumni of the Faculty of Fine Arts (FoFA), Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU), Baroda, Gujarat, referring to the “violence” by right-wing groups for displaying “objectionable” paintings that “hurt religious sentiments” at the one of India’s top fine arts institute May 5, have taken strong exception to “the assault and rustication” of one of the students, and lack of action taken against those who “violated” the institution and committed the act. Floated as an online petition seeking wider support, the FoFA alumni, in their statement, addressed to the vice chancellor, MSU, said, there should be “thorough” investigation in the whole incident and “immediate action” should be taken against syndicate member Hasmukh Vaghela, MSU, who sparked the assault, and “other co-conspirators” for breaching “university code of conduct and unlawful activities committed in broad daylight”. While the alumni statement doesn't say so, Vaghela

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

World Bank proved right, Narmada is already a destructive project: Medha Patkar

By Rajiv Shah  Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar has said that the World Bank’s independent review mission, which brought out the Morse Commission report , has been proved right: The Sardar Sarovar dam has not only failed to live up to the loud promises made for irrigating large arid areas of Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat, those who were displaced and resettled in Gujarat are getting increasingly restive as many of them are unable to get the promised water for irrigation and some for drinking water too. While 50,000 families have been resettled in three states and 20,000 have received land rights as land or cash, the authorities have not calculated what should be done with 15,000 families, whose houses are acquired for Sardar Sarovar but following changing backwater levels of the Sardar Sarovar dam, they are denied rehabilitation, Patkar tells Counterview in an interview (part1*): *** Q: What is the latest position in your view as far as the Sardar Sarovar dam is concerned?

UK leader cites Indian farmers' struggle one of top global fights against neoliberal order

Counterview Desk  Jeremy Corbyn, member of the UK Parliament, former leader of the UK Labour Party and founder of the  Peace and Justice Project , in his  inaugural speech to the  Progressive International’s  Summit at the End of the World on May 12, 2022, has said, what is happening across globe suggests that "image of apocalypse -- bombs and raids, oil spills and wildfires, disease and contagion -- is a reality for people across the planet." In an adaptation of his speech, distributed by  Globetrotter , Corbyn, however, said, there are fresh examples action, too -- by Indian farmers forcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw three neo-liberal laws;  by workers, communities and activists against the top giant multinational Amazon's "greed and exploitation"; and by Latin American people's struggle to say "no more to the domination by imperialism, the destruction of their communities and the abuse of their environments." Stating that this is n

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why is NIOH-ICMR 'official' making false claims on silicosis?: Health rights NGO

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, Dr Jagdish Parikh, trustee, health rights NGO People’s Training and Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, and Jagdish Patel, director, PTRC, have said that the claim being made for the use of biomarker for detection of silicosis raises concern about scientific tenacity of the diagnosis of the deadly occupational disease. The letter also objects to the reported claim by a top health official that it is possible to detect silicosis at the sub-radiological stage. It asks, “What is this subradiological stage of silicosis? We have not heard any such scientific term being used. Again, the report is using a term which is not found in any scientific literature so far. Is this term acceptable by ICMR? Is ICMR thinking of any explanation?” Text : This is with reference to our letter dated November 28, 2021. In our communication we had raised our concern about the scientific tena

Welfare? Govt of India spends just 19% of manual scavengers' rehabilitation budget

By Bharat Dogra*  While the Dalit community has been always known for higher levels of poverty as well as social discrimination, even within the Dalits there is a sub-section known for even worse levels of poverty as well as social discrimination. This is the section which was traditionally involved in manual scavenging. The shocking injustice they have suffered from over the years has been widely recognized leading to a ban on manual scavenging. At the same time there is urgent need for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging. Hence a self-employment scheme for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging was drawn up. The allocations and the expenditure for this scheme for the last eight years are shown in the Table below: Union Budget for Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of  Manual Scavengers (in Rs crore) By Budget Estimate we mean the original allocation made when the budget is presented. It is clear from this table that the actual expenditure