The Inequality Virus Released in States

The Inequality Virus Released in States

The Oxfam Inequality Report — The Inequality Virus — released online on 25 Jan, 2021 on the opening day of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Dialogue. In India, while the report launch was largely online, our focus states held report launches and panel discussions not just in the capital cities but in the districts as well. Here is a round up of all the state releases. This was clubbed with the week of action to mark the Global Protest Against Inequality which was held between Jan 23-31.

Odisha: The ‘Inequality Virus’ report was launched in Odisha at state as well as the district level. In Bhubaneswar, the report was released on 25 January at the Press Club. The report release followed by a panel discussion on the rising inequalities in India was attended by Akshay Biswal, (Regional Manager, Oxfam India), Dr. Hiranmayee Mishra (Director, Women’s Studies Centre, U.N. Autonomous College). Dr. Mrinal Chatterjee (Director, IIMC), and Dr. S.N.Mishra (Dean, School of Management Studies, KIIT University).  The report saw covered widely 15 newspapers including the leading Odia publications Samaj, Samvad, and Dharitri.

The report was also released at district level covering 8 districts of Odisha namely Khorda, Kendrapada, Naupada, Bolangir, Rayagada, Bhadrak, Angul and Kandhamal. The releases were attended by Members of Legislative Assembly, Government representatives, representatives of civil society organisations, academicians, media and youth. The discussions at the district level deliberated on the raising inequalities in context of education, health, gender and employment. The report was shared with the District Magistrates of the respective districts and were urged to take steps to reduce inequalities.  More than 30 local newspapers covered the report release at the district level.

The Inequality virus song by The Indian Ocean band was played during the street plays were organised during the campaign in three districts. The play was performed at various places including schools, communities, district level government offices. Youth orientation programme on Inequality were organised with the Youth Forum at Mayurbhanj, and at Sambalpur University and Rama Devi University, Bhubaneswar.

Community Radio was used as one of the tools to reach to larger community; a message on inequality followed by the Inequality Song was played on the community radio at Nayagarh district.

The week-long campaign successfully reached out to various audiences and the findings from the report has been able to gather attention from the media and the public. The campaign will further continue to reach out to the policy makers to strengthen advocacy for progressive policies targeted towards reducing inequalities.

Uttar Pradesh: Oxfam India and Samta Network (FIA- UP) released the India Supplement at Sheroes Hangout, Lucknow. During the event Samta Network shared findings of the Pre-Budget Survey. It was well covered by the local media.

During the Week of Action, the Samta Network, Youth Alliance-UP, State Collective for Right to Education (SCoRE), UP Swasthaya Abhiyan, Rashtriya Viklang Mahasabha and other network members joined us to mark the Global Protest Against Inequality across 22 districts in the state. The week started with protests and street plays in Lucknow; protest march was organised by youth and Samta network members and street plays were done in four major locations of Lucknow. The highlights were peoples vaccine, super rich tax, exemption of debt to farmers and marginalized members, and a robust recovery plan for access to basic services (education and health).

In three districts—Raebareli, Amethi and Allahabad—Rashtriya Viklang Mahasangh organised events on the rights of people and children with disability and submitted charter of demand to the District Magistrate. In Varanasi, Red Brigade organised street play on the issue of violence against women and girl, especially acid attack; the play was performed by acid attack survivors and youth activists.

Chhattisgarh: The report was launched on 28 January in Raipur. The launch was attended by representative of Domestic Workers’ Union, transgender community, civil society representatives, youth,  and media. The panel included Dr. Priyanka Shukla (Joint Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department (Govt of Chhattisgarh)), Pradeep Sharma (advisor to the Chief Minister), Dr. Yogesh Jain (Health Rights Expert), Vidya Rajput (member, Social Welfare Board and transgender activist). The panelists underlined the need to reduce inequality; Dr Shukla requested participants to share their suggestions so that the government can work on them. Pradeep Sharma spoke about peoples’ economy and how Chhattisgarh was trying to create the same. Dr Jain underscored the need to strengthen the public health system. He said inequality is one of the major root cause, that a large number of population is not getting adequate health care support. Vidya Rajput talked about the challenges faced by the transgender community; during the pandemic their food and livelihood security had become a huge challenge.

Jharkhand: The report was released in Ranchi on 30 January. The launch and panel discussion was attended by AK Singh (Convenor and Director of Jharkhand Right to Education Forum & Leeds), Professor Ramesh Sharan (former VC Vinoba Bhave University), Gurjit Singh (State Social Audit Unit), Balram (Right to Food Campaign), Mahadev Hansda (Save the Children), Sashi (Secretary, CSS), Ganesh Reddy (Director, Citizen Foundation) and Pratiush Prakash (Oxfam India). Representatives of various social organizations of the state, besides media persons attended the program.

Bihar: The #InequalityVirus released in Patna on 25 January. A panel discussion was followed with a press conference. Present were Prof. DM Diwakar of AN Sinha Institute of Social Sciences, Rupesh of Right to Food Network in Bihar & Pratiush Prakash.

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