Governments across the world are trying to figure out solutions to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The problems are immense, complex, and affect literally the entirety of human species. India, with its 1.2 billion-plus population, is also grappling with this problem and is currently in a 21-day lockdown.
While there have been proactive steps taken by governments, both at the Centre and in states, there are still some gaps. And one initiative, called the “Parliamentarians with Innovators For India”, or PI India, is trying to fill those gaps.
The idea is simple: bring a bunch of people together, get public representatives to participate, and then figure out solutions based on the problems observed in different parts of India.
The founder of the initiative, Ghanshyam Tiwari, said, “There is a vacuum that needs to be filled. The government has led the response to the pandemic and advised everyone to switch off and stay inside. But we need to start thinking about what comes after this.”
The says it is “a platform which brings parliamentarians, venture capitalists, public health and policy experts together to identify and deploy solutions designed to address the Covid-19 pandemic.”
At the moment, the initiative has 14 members of parliament on board, including Agatha Sangma, GVL Narsimha Rao, Varun Gandhi, Mahua Moitra, and Rajeev Gowda.
“This group cuts across party lines in an attempt to find solutions for the Covid-19 crisis,” said Tiwari, who is a member of the Samajwadi Party. “We want to do a large-scale mobilisation of MPs and use their experiences to find solutions. This needs to happen at a larger scale, especially at state levels. For example, if Kerala is taking effective steps to address this public health crisis, then these need to be shared with other state governments too. MPs can use their networks to help do that.”
Tiwari pointed out that this is the first of its kind initiative to use the MPs’ network and influence to deal with this crisis.
“We are giving MPs an opportunity to connect with professionals from different organisations like the Population Foundation of India, Centre for Policy Research, etc. and also venture capitalists who can help fund the ideas being presented at the forum,” he said.
The first meeting of this forum is planned for April 15, and participants are currently exploring if it can be livestreamed to the public.
What’s the agenda for the upcoming meeting? “Right now we are focusing on solutions concerning public health,” said Tiwari. “But this crisis will continue for at least a year, in my opinion. After the present public health issues, we will be hit with economic issues too. We need to be ready for it and this would be a good forum to think about what comes next and how we deal with it as a society.”