Experts from various fields come together to help rebuild economy with a focus on health, farmers, labourers
Retaining farm youth in rural areas was the theme of debate among experts for reviving rural economy so far. The focus is now also on retaining youth working in IT sector from rural areas, presently working online from their native villages, even after life normalises post-pandemic.
This, coupled with other initiatives like linking farmers with a co-operative digital marketing platform and setting up farm processing units at village level would go a long way in reviving rural economy, feel experts.
These are some of the issues that are part of the agenda of a group of reputed professionals who have come together to to fight the impact of COVID-19 with the involvement of corporate sector. Their intention is not just ensuring medical assistance, but to address workers’ livelihood issues and to help revive the rural economy.
Titled as Societal Action Group of Experts (SAGE) to combat COVID Catastrophe in Karnataka, they are keen on bringing corporates, the government and civil groups on a common platform, says agri economist Dr. Prakash Kammaradi, who is the convenor of SAGE.
Retired professor from Madras Institute of Development Studies S. Janakarajan, Telematics4U CEO Pratap Hegde and Public Health Specialist Dr. P. V. Venugopal who has worked with the World Bank are some of the members of its core group which had its first meeting on Wednesday.
Entrepreneur Capt. Gopinath, well-known economist Prof. Vinod Vyasulu, nephro-urologist Dr. Venkatesh and IIM-A professor Sukhpal Singh have agreed to help this initiative, says Dr. Kammaradi.
He says the focus is to adopt a multidimensional approach to provide an ecosystem for government, corporate sector and civil society as well as various organizations to collaborate in a bid to come out with action plans to tackle issues pertaining to health, marketing of farm commodities and livelihood for workers during the COVID-19.
It will also focus on using the corporate sector, particularly IT sector in public health management, facilitating logistics for doctors, nurses and health workers and others besides assisting municipal bodies to efficiently manage Primary Health Centres, COVID testing and vaccination, training ASHA workers etc.
The group is also keen to assist the government under PPP model for production of oxygen locally in a decentralized way and its timely distribution to PHCs throughout the state.
Its other focuses include providing livelihood sources and solution to migrant labourers, farm labourers, Pourakarmikas and other workers besides suggesting alternative and equitable sustainable development models.
Faults with economy
Mr. Pratap Hegde says COVID-19, which started as an urban phenomenon by spreading due to congregation, has indicated the faults with the nature of economy adopted by us.
“We created an economy which is urban and GDP-centric. What we have done is bringing people from rural areas to urban areas. In this process, we have turned rural middle class into urban poor. Now the time has come to disperse the economy,” he observes.
Pointing out that the epidemic has shown that IT employees can work from anywhere, he suggests that such a decentralised model should become a permanent fixture so that the financial burden too eases for the firms and villages too will become financially robust by retaining such talents. Such a decentralised model may become inevitable for IT sector to face the economic challenge posed by the pandemic globally, he feels.