By Tarun Pratap
The eighth episode of season 2 of DEFDialogue 2.0 happened in conversation with Manikanta from Hyderabad, Telangana. Mani has been working with DEF for the past seven years and has been part of many projects in different capacities.
In this conversation, he gives us a picture of the situation on the ground in Guna. She talks about the status of medical infrastructure and resources. She gives us an idea about conceptions and beliefs that people on the ground have about the ongoing pandemic and how people at the local level are dealing with the situation.
Impact of COVID-19 Second Wave and its transmission
Manikanta told us that the state government is taking a lot of precautions and running several awareness schemes. Since Telangana is one of the newest states in India. June 2nd is Telangana Day. In seven years of its existence, Telangana has made a lot of changes. They are giving a lot of innovative ideas to the people about the protection from Covid and vaccination. The most important aspect of it is the concept of vaccinating potential spreaders. People between the ages of 18 to 50 are being selected for it, around 1000 tokens are being given at one centre around Hyderabad as the pilot. They put lockdown because of the Covid situation and after that, there was a night curfew in the place. This helped in fighting the spread of the virus. The relaxations were given as the situation improved. Though there has been a lot of cases in Telangana and thousands of deaths due to the pandemic. According to the state government, there have been more than 5.8 lakh cases with about 5.4 lakh recoveries. There are about 4 thousand cases per day in Telangana.
Awareness and COVID-19 management by Local Administration
Manikanta told us that when the lockdown started in northern states of India, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh both had not decided to put lockdown because of the second wave, and that impacted in regular increases in Telangana’s cases. Since then the government has taken it as a challenging thing. The IT department has been proactive and rolled out toll-free numbers for WhatsApp, Twitter, and social media. The number can be used to take up the cases and report if anyone is charging more than mandated for bed and oxygen. These numbers are really helpful.
Awareness and COVID-19 management by Local Administration
According to Manikanta, like last year the most affected community is migrant workers such as construction workers, daily laborers. Most of such workers in Hyderabad are from Srikakulam which is a small town in Andhra Pradesh. They are daily wage laborers. Apart from those private job holders, street vendors, people that were doing regular business are impacted. In the first wave, the government did a lot to help the migrant workers but during the second wave, the government has failed to do so.
The reality of Covid-19 in Rural India
At the beginning of the second wave, many people were careless. As there is no lockdown in Telangana, people are roaming free. There is just a night curfew in the state. The community spread was rapid and created a lot of damage before the lockdown. But after the lockdown government is implementing strict laws and trying to keep the situation in control. Now a lot of people are following the right protocols doing the right things. Most of the people are staying home outside the lockdown hours.
Digital Empowerment Foundation’s Work and the way forward
Manikanta appreciated his ground team who created WhatsApp groups and Facebook groups in 32 districts. They have been providing a lot of information on social media to people to counter the misinformation prevalent on the issues. In the first phase of Covid, we helped more than 30000 migrants during the digital medium. He said that in the second wave they are staying home but keep posting messages to motivate and help people. We are doing it through digital means, zoom calls, Facebook posts, and Whatsapp messages. We tried to engage locals as much as possible and ran awareness programs. Credit goes to DEF, it has been educating people a lot regarding social media and how to overcome it with the right knowledge.
A lot of DEF activities were going on in Telangana with a lot of people receiving knowledge. We have enabled people with the right information regarding the availability of beds and other medical resources to those who needed and similarly right information was given to the ones who needed cylinder and other benefits. We are also giving information about which hospital is charging more. This was happening a lot in rural areas, we informed government authorities as well. DEF has played an important role in community development. Again, DEF workers whether on the field or at the Hyderabad center, are passing all information about the vaccination program that we are getting. At DEF, we have discussed making action plans to guide people in the right direction in the context of vaccination. A lot of vaccination center are established but there is a lack of vaccinations. DEF has been in constant touch with ASHA and Anganwadi workers to be able to get valid and verified information and then pass it to the people through the help of social media. We are guiding 500 people to go vaccination center to keep the pressure in proportion.
Initially, when the center government announced the vaccination only for people aged 45 and above, there was a lot of demotivation when people heard about fever and pain after the vaccination but numerous social service organization has worked to motivate people. The situation is that it is a lot of people ready to take the vaccination but there is not enough vaccination available. People have received awareness from different sources of media and social media. The district administration is running various programs to make people aware of the vaccination. Manikanta thanked the team for working tirelessly on the ground and appealed to the people of the state to get vaccinated. He hoped that the situation will improve.