Utkal University holds workshop based on Oxfam Inequality Report 2020

Bhubaneswar: The Global Centre for Rural Studies, Utkal University organised a one day workshop on Inequality and its impact during Covid-19 today in collaboration with Oxfam India. Oxfam India’s latest India supplement, “The Inequality Virus” that was released on the opening day of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Dialogues, was presented in the workshop by Dr. Pravas Ranjan Mishra, Programme Officer, Oxfam India.
The report has found that the wealth of Indian billionaires increased by 35 percent during the lockdown. In fact the increase in wealth of the top 11 billionaires of India during the pandemic could sustain the NREGS scheme for 10 years or the health ministry for 10 years.
Speaking about the lockdown imposed during the Corona virus outbreak, Dr. Pravas Mishra pointed out that India introduced one of the earliest and most stringent lockdowns in the face of the pandemic. The enforcement of the lockdown brought the economy to a standstill triggering unemployment, hunger, distress migration and untold hardship in its wake. The rich were able to escape the pandemic’s worst impact, and wile the white-collar workers isolated themselves and worked from home, a majority of the not so fortunate Indians lost their livelihood.
Mr. Anil Pradhan Convener Odisha RTE Forum spoke on the educational inequalities that have increased due to the pandemic. He said, “inequalities were always there, the pandemic made them worse and more visible.” He further added that only 14 percent students in the state has access to internet thereby cutting their access to online education which remains the primary mode of education in the pandemic. The long disruption of schooling risked doubling the rate of out of school, especially among the poor. Only 4 percent of rural households had a computer and less than 15 percent rural households had an internet connection in the country.
“Social inequality serves as the basic infrastructure of all inequalities. Students need to understand it and put efforts to dismantle this structure, “ said Prof. Basant Kumar Mallik, Chairman, PG Council, Utkal University in his keynote address. He talked about Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s last speech where he talked about political equality as enshrined in our constitution cannot coexist with widening social and economical inequity.
The speakers spoke length about inequalities in the field of economic, education, health, gender and also the rise in violence against women during the lockdown. A technical session was held with the students of the university where they discussed about the inequalities manifest in their lives. Students belonging to rural and tribal communities were nominated from all 35 departments who actively participated in the workshop.
Dr. Rashmita Sahoo proposed a formal vote of thanks. Dr. Navaneeta Rath, Coordinator, Global Centre for Rural studies was instrumental in organising this workshop. Dr. Rath informed that more such workshops are in the pipeline.