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 massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

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".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

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.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

Gujarat literati flutter: State Akademi autonomy curb a Sahitya Parishad poll issue?

By Dankesh Oza*
The 115-year-old Gujarati Sahitya Parishad is in election mode. More than 3,000 life members of the Parishad are set to elect its 52nd president and 40 plus central working committee (CWC) members, which in turn will elect its executive and two vice presidents, six secretaries and a treasurer for the coming three years (from 2021 to 2023).

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Agricultural reform? Small farmers will be more vulnerable, corporates to 'fix' price

By Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
Agriculture employs 42% of the total work force whereas it contributes only 16% to the country’s GDP. The average annual growth rate in agriculture has remained static to 2.9% since the last six years. This means that the post-green revolution conventional agriculture has reached its peak. Responsiveness of soil fertility to fertiliser application, an indicator of stagnancy in agriculture, shows declining trend since 1970. The worst sufferer has been the small and marginal farmers who constitute 86% of total farmers.