Universities as Agents of Change in the Pandemic, and Beyond

Writing in The Times of India, Dr. Rajesh Tandon, President of the NGO PRIA, presents a range of ideas on how India’s 1,000 universities and 42,000 colleges and their 37 million students and two million faculty and staff can help address the Covid-19 crisis.  He recommends that these institutions: “1) Redesign curriculum of current courses to introduce a component of field study to monitor current situation in those communities and neighbourhoods; 2) engage with local administration, panchayats, municipalities to support them in identifying poor and vulnerable families and persons who have not been able to access various government benefits, and share the same with such relevant agencies; 3) undertake widespread multi-disciplinary studies on public health practices and situations in such communities (both rural and urban) in partnership with local communities, including competencies and skills of frontline workers and community leaders, and innovate solutions for the same;  4) participate actively to support frontline health and sanitation workers in spreading awareness and behavior change communication; 5) undertake analysis of loss of employment and livelihood due to pandemic, and innovate locally appropriate solutions for sustainable livelihoods; 6) build capacities of panchayats and small nagarpalikas for disaster-preparedness such that they can be robust institutions for addressing any future situations; and 7) review domain knowledge systems in light of pandemic’s long-term message for changes in design and use of space, local resilience, water savings, local production for food security etc.” Read his article here