Opening the session on Rural Realities- West Bengal, Dr. Simi Mehta, CEO & Editorial Director at IMPRI, welcomed the panelists to the session. Since the beginning of May2021, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies at Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, had organized a series of sessions to discuss the rural ground realities, speaking to rural practitioners and their ways and means of tackling the second wave. On May 25, 2021, the discussion was centered on “Rural Realities | West Bengal Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages”.
Following the welcome by Dr. Simi, The IMPRI team informed the discussion by locating for the event participants the situation of COVID 19 in India and West Bengal. 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 West Bengal.
Poor Infrastructure and Social Stigma
Mr. Vikram Rai, Assistant Professor, St Joseph College, Founder Vik Run Foundation provided a perspective of the hills’ region of West Bengal, Mr. Vikram Rai attributed lack of infrastructure and social stigma to the raging pandemic in Darjeeling.
Backlog of RT-PCR test results along with the social stigma attached with COVID positive patients exacerbated the pandemic situation in the region.
Talking about the donation drives generated by his foundation-Vik Run as well as his alma matter, innovation was one of the key learnings that emerged for the panelist on setting up a community care center.
For Mr. Vikram Rai, collaboration between all stakeholders- government, private medical practitioners and the civil society organizations- was necessary to combat social stigma around the virus and help people recover better.
Mr. Vikram Rai remarked that the second wave had generated more scare than last year. Number of deaths had considerably increased compared to last year. Due to the visibility that the virus had acquired this year, people had become aware and conscious.