This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by ISDM. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Post-COVID India Will Rely On Gram Panchayats For Rural Upliftment

More from ISDM

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.

Panchayat in session
Panchayat can be one of the effective institutions to help people at the grass-root level. Representational image.

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:

  • Needs assessment– The Gram Sabha provides a platform to come together and discuss development plans and strategies. As the Panchayat body consists of local representatives, it generally has proper information on each household of the village. So both of them can identify the most vulnerable and needy households to provide support with livelihood interventions on an urgent basis.
  • Effective planning– Panchayats can play an important role in preparing an effective plan through participatory approaches to boost the livelihood generation process. It can also arrange for the necessary inputs in terms of resources and skills. As a local body, the Panchayat can perform the SWOT analysis of itself to implement the programmes in a better way.
  • Strengthening MNREGA– MNREGA operates as one of the important flagship livelihood generation programmes in India. Strengthening the programme will help the most vulnerable and needy groups to generate employment, and also, effectively working on it with a proper plan can lead to the generation of new opportunities as well. Panchayats can play a role in context-based planning and better implementation of that.
  • Effective implementation of government programmes– There are a number of schemes focusing on poverty alleviation, employment and livelihood generation. However, there is a need to make people aware of their rights and then implement the schemes effectively. It will help the vulnerable groups to uplift their economic condition and increase their well-being. The process can also provide bank linkages and loans to drive people towards self-employment.
  • Market linkages of local production– In this period of lockdown, one of the reasons for the emerging economic crisis is the non-availability of market. The Panchayat system and the Gram Sabha can help strengthen local livelihood generation strategies and also market local production by identifying the sources of demand and supply and by facilitating the market-linkage process between both the parties.
  • Collaboration with different bodies– Collaboration within different bodies is necessary to win this battle against the pandemic. Even in the post-COVID situation, the Panchayat can increase its efficiency by collaborating with different bodies to get effective results. There would be a scope to collaborate with different community-based organizations, women collectives, media, agriculture (Krishi Vigyan Kendra) and livelihood support institutions (NRLM) to prepare its context-specific planning and then to implement it.
  • Fair Public distribution system– In the post-COVID situation, most of the vulnerable communities would not have the money in place to continue their daily life and meet their basic needs. Fair and need-based distribution of food-grains through PDS will increase their economic and social protection. Ensuring availability of food grains for everyone and facilitation of distribution process by the Panchayat will increase transparency.
Ms Ranjita Suna, Sarpanch, Luhasinga Gram Panchayt monitors a school in her Panchayat |
Ms Ranjita Suna, Sarpanch, Luhasinga Gram Panchayt monitors a school in her Panchayat | Photo courtesy: Fakira Rout

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.

You must be to comment.

More from ISDM

Similar Posts

By Biranchi Narayan Acharya

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By Prabhanu Kumar Das

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below