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An Overview Of The Catastrophic Second Wave In Gujarat

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has deeply affected Indian states and Union Territories, and Gujarat has been no exception. Due to issues like lack of infrastructure and human resources, both rural and urban citizens were caged in the web of grief and misery wherein, even to see for the last time one’s loved ones who succumbed to coronavirus became an act of privilege.

Rural Realities | Gujarat Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian Villages

Focusing on the Rural Realities around the country during the pandemic, the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS) and Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi, organised a panel discussion on ‘Rural Realities: Gujarat Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Indian villages’ on May 14, 2021.

This article is an excerpt of the presentation given by Sakshi Sharda and the IMPRI team, who provided an overview of the Covid-19 situation in India with special reference to Gujarat to set the context for the broader discussion on the topic by the esteemed panellists.

About Gujarat

Gujarat houses a population of six crore people according to the 2011 Census. It has 33 districts and 18, 544 villages. Some of the important cities are Vadodra, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad and Surat. The state is located in the Northwest region of the country and shares both land and water borders with Pakistan. Towards the East the state neighbours Madhya Pradesh, towards the North Rajasthan, and towards South, Maharashtra.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

Most of the major cities are found in the more fertile regions and many of them — such as Rajkot, Junagadh, Porbandar, Bhavnagar (Bhaunagar), Jamnagar, all on the peninsula — were once the capitals of small states. The most urbanised area of Gujarat is the Ahmadabad-Vadodara (Baroda) industrial belt in the east-central region. Since the late 20th century, this area has become just one segment of an ever-expanding urban agglomeration along the highway that links the northern and southern parts of the state.

Gujarat has a sex ratio of 920, which is below the national average of 943, the literacy rate in the state is 82%, which is well above the national average. The state houses 57% of its population in rural areas. The Gujarat model of growth has been hailed as a model of growth, development and progress. The state ranks fifth nationally in the per capita index and eleventh in the Sustainable Development Goal Index.

Second Wave Of Covid-19

During the first wave, reported cases from Gujarat were extremely high, the state ranked amongst the top contributors to the total national Covid-19 cases. The state had the highest case fatality rate and was ranked lowest in terms of time taken by the cases to double. By December, the state had controlled the spread of the virus where the positivity rate fell to negative 0.1%.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

The second wave resulted in the states doubling time being eight days and on March 23, 1,640 people died in Gujarat. During the second wave, it remained amongst the top six states with one of the highest reporting and fatality rates. During the same time, Gujarat reduced testing facilities, rural areas were reporting 8,483 cases per day during the peak of the second wave, much higher than urban Gujarat.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

In Gujarat, the fortnight-long ‘Maru Gam, Corona Mukt Gam’ programme organised by the Gujarat government to control the spread of Covid-19 in the villages was extended for five more days till May 20. Jaydrathsinh Parmar, Minister of State for Panchayats, said a total of 15,322 Covid care centres were set up within 14,236 gram panchayats.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

Gujarat government on May 11, 2021, extended the night curfew in 36 cities of the state. The night curfew, which is in place from 8pm to 6am in 36 cities of Gujarat was extended by another week till May 18. Gujarat recorded 10,990 new cases of Covid-19 on May 11, 2021. According to the State Health Department, 15,198 patients recovered on the same day and were discharged from hospitals. A maximum of 3,059 new cases were reported from Ahmedabad, while Surat recorded 790 new cases.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

Counting Dead

The state during the first wave had reported the highest fatality rate and the numbers and rate did not reduce during the second wave as well. Along with this, there are instances of underreported deaths and cases in rural Gujarat. As of May 12, 2021, total deaths registered were 8,629 at a rate of 1.2%.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

Meanwhile, nearly 37,00,000 lakh persons have taken the second dose of vaccine till now, out of which 2,18,513 were vaccinated in the state on May 11, 2021.

Emerging Issues

The state is facing an acute shortage of vaccines where the state halted vaccination for people above the age of 45 years in between. There have been concerns with oxygen supply where 50 people have reportedly died in the state only due to oxygen shortage. The government has planned to increase Covid-19 bed capacity by adding 15,000 new beds. There is a rise in rural unemployment and the images of migrant workers exiting Surat have further exacerbated concerns for livelihood.

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Source: IMPRI #WebPolicyTalk

In order to minimise the impact of second wave and prepare for a third wave, issues of lack of oxygen, health infrastructure and vaccination, which has also added to the financial burden on most rural as well as urban households, need to be addressed in moving towards healthy and prosperous Gujarat.

YouTube Video for Practitioners’ Experiences in Tackling the Second Wave in Gujarat

Ritika Gupta, Sakshi Sharda, Ishika Chaudhary, Gby Atee, Mahima Kapoor, Swati Solanki, Chhavi Kapoor, Arjun Kumar and IMPRI Team

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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