Q: How does the Gram Panchayat ensure that villagers who have symptoms voluntarily approach the designated health facility to get tested?
Sarpanch: ASHA and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) workers have been involved in raising awareness in the Gram Panchayat. We have also organised street plays to reduce the stigma and fear attached to the virus.
It seems that fear in them has lessened.
Q: Have there been any instances where COVID-19 patients have been discriminated against? If yes, who has resolved these and how?
Sarpanch: There is no positive case in my Gram Panchayat. However, in the neighbouring villages there have been instances where people treat the patients differently.
A 22-year-old was found positive; when he came back from the hospital after getting treatment, he was welcomed with garlands. This generates positivity amongst people.
Q: How is the Gram Panchayat ensuring employment for labourers and migrant workers?
Sarpanch: The main means of employment is the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). For the last 10 years, MGNREGS work was not happening in my village. However, it has started now and is providing employment to people who need it.
At least 46 families in my Gram Panchayat are part of the MGNREGS, and 6-8 migrants have also received work.
It takes 2-3 days for a job card to be made. Having a bank account is necessary though.
This interview was conducted with a Sarpanch in Jaipur, Rajasthan in Hindi on 15 July 2020, and has been translated.