Bhubaneswar, Aug 19: Climate change, soil erosion, exploitation of tribals, women’s safety were among several issues raised by stakeholders from diverse fields who gathered here for a two-day brainstorming program which concluded on Saturday.
The convention, organised by Rural Voice, a digital news platform, Socratus Foundation, a Bengaluru-based think tank, Livelihood Alternatives, a social enterprise seeking to create an enabling eco-system, and supported by Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (SOA) was attended by around 50 persons drawn from 21 districts of Odisha.
The stakeholders comprising farmers, artisans, small entrepreneurs, political activists, social workers, rural journalists and climate crusaders, spoke about the problems faced by them and their aspirations.
“This event is part of a series of such conventions being organised by Rural Voice and Socratus Foundation across rural India to address the unique challenges faced by the rural communities,” Harvir Singh, noted journalist and Founder of Rural Voice, told a news conference at the end of the program.
Singh said the first such convention was held at Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh and the second was organised at Bhubaneswar. The next such program was scheduled to be held in Rajasthan and subsequently in south India and the north east, he said.
“The focus is to find out the kind of solutions the rural people are looking for to get over their problems and identify what is needed to improve their lives,” Prachur Goel, Director of Socratus Foundation, said.
Sambit Tripathy, Founder of Livelihood Alternatives, said the participants discussed a multitude of issues they faced, prominent among them being access to clean drinking water, irrigation facilities, quality education and healthcare.
Stating that alcoholism and drug abuse were major problems, some participants said they looked forward to addiction-free villages.
After the series of regional meetings are completed, the compiled views of the rural population shall be placed before policymakers and experts at the national level, Mr. Singh said.
They also highlighted the fallout of climate change causing the sea level to rise and its impact on agriculture. They said there was a need to create awareness about it and efforts should be made for the promotion of renewable energy.
The participants also took part in a panel discussion attended by Jugal Kishore Mohapatra, former Odisha chief secretary, Prof. Mithali Chinara, Professor of Economics in Utkal University and Harvir Singh.
The panel dealt with various issues ranging from farm laws to their impact and affirmative action. Mohapatra spoke about his views on developmental issues over the last four decades while Prof. Chinara focused on developmental imperatives and issues relating to inclusiveness.
Singh discussed about the nuances on proposed farm laws while providing a comparative national perspective.