Gram Panchayat is the ground unit of local self-governance system in India. It acts as an intermediary between the administration and the people. Gram Panchayat plays a key role in uplifting the condition of the people at the grass-root level and also in strengthening the system of village governance.
The current COVID-19 scenario is possibly going to change and reshape a lot of things in the near future. There are a number of analysis already in place which specify that there would be a huge economic crisis with the GDP falling at a tremendous level. So, there might be many implications, like the rate of unemployment may increase, job loss, demand and supply gap, and inflationary effects.
The population who were working as migrant laborers have encountered extreme suffering due to which, next time, they will be in a dilemma about stepping out of their houses. It will increase the need for a new livelihood generation process at the local level. Therefore, there will be an emerging need to develop effective strategies to tackle the post-COVID-19 livelihood crisis scenario.
Earlier, the villages were based on agriculture. However, after the globalization era, villages in India have also changed drastically, and new forms of lifestyles and consumption patterns have been adopted by the people, giving rise to a different set of needs and demands amongst the people. So, in the post-COVID period, it would be a little difficult to generate livelihood opportunities for those who would be in extreme need.
Panchayat can be one of the effective institutions to help people at the grass-root level. Engaging Gram Panchayats in improving livelihoods and providing economic and social security would be a critical step towards the betterment of the people.
Here are a few possible strategies on how panchayats can play a major role in improving livelihood opportunities:
The COVID-19 scenario has probably helped us explore the deep-rooted leakages in our system. Though we have proved to bring good policies for poverty alleviation since independence, the present reality shows that we have failed to secure the lives and livelihood of our people. It has shown the capacity of the country in terms of health facilities, education and level of awareness, responsibilities of the citizens, accountability, etc. Tackling all of these at the same time after COVID-19 would be difficult.
As a Panchayat operates at the local level within a small terrain, it can contextualize the development interventions. In the post-COVID scenario, scaling one intervention all over the country will not always help, but the effective way would be to make it context-specific. At this point, to strengthen the economy, wage employment will help, but the aim should be to shift it gradually towards self-employment.
Panchayats can always support in different ways, and as an administrative body, it would be easy for them to take the voice of the people to the top level of administration, which may impact the good governance and policies. Then, Panchayats will emerge as actual representatives.
About The Author: This piece has been written by Nilanjan Panda, who is a student of the ISDM Class of 2020 in the 1-Year Post Graduate Program in Development Leadership.