Chandigarh,A 2-day multi-disciplinary national conference titled 'Transformation, Survival and Sustainability in a Post COVID World and Creating a New Bharat: Some Dimensions from Punjab and Haryana State' began at Mehr Chand Mahajan DAV College for Women, Chandigarh. Organised by the Postgraduate Department of Economics of the college, the conference is sponsored by Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), North-Western Regional Centre, Panjab University, Chandigarh.
Prof. Y.P. Verma, Registrar, Panjab University, was the Chief Guest and Prof. Sanjay Kaushik, Dean College Development Council, Panjab University, was the Guest of Honour for the inaugural ceremony of the conference. Prof. Pradeep Chauhan, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, delivered the presidential address and Prof. Aswini Kumar Nanda, CRRID, Chandigarh, delivered the keynote address.
Inaugurating the conference, Principal Dr. Nisha Bhargava asserted that in the blind pursuit of materialistic development, human race has ignored nature and environment, which invited nature's wrath in the form of COVID outbreak. Highlighting the indispensable role that technology has assumed in our lives, Dr. Bhargava said that the transition to high tech life was to happen gradually but the sudden onset of the pandemic thrust the technology upon us and transformed our lives in many ways. As she shed light on the similarities between the economies of Punjab and Haryana, Dr. Bhargava also drew attention to the lack of inclusive growth, fiscal imbalances, environmental degradation and economic inequalities as the challenges that these two states face. She concluded by suggesting that the current focus of these two economies needs to be inclusive and sustainable growth, and expressing hope that the comprehensive deliberations during the conference on the required policy framework for these two economies will prove fruitful.
In his address, Prof. Y.P. Verma said that the fact that COVID has tested our sustainability quotient goes on to show that no technology is complete without the concept of sustainability. He commended the Government of India's initiatives like Vocal for Local, Start Up India, etc., for creating an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation, thereby aiding in the realisation of the dream of Atmanirbhar Bharat, and added that Intellectual Property is the area that India needs to focus upon. Predicting fast growth of the Indian economy, Prof. Verma remarked that India has done exceptionally well in many areas including space and defense, and there is a need for policies to support this growth. Prof. Sanjay Kaushik pointed out the huge difference between the education budget of our country and the fees paid by Indian students migrating to other countries, and added that post COVID, this disparity has increased. Talking about the further marginalisation of the already marginalised strata, unemployment figures, etc., Prof. Kaushik expressed hope that the deliberations during this conference will help to reach a definite solution. Prof. Pradeep Chauhan opined that education is the most important and potent weapon to fight the problems of inequality and poverty. He said that India is a country with a long history of intellectual property, but unfortunately this asset is migrating to other countries. Terming the youth as the growth engines for economic development, Prof Chauhan impressed upon the need to ignite these engines. Referring to the digital transformation brought about by COVID, Prof Chauhan said that its impact on physical and psychological health, coupled with the problems of privacy and cybersecurity calls for post COVID surveillance programmes. Prof. Aswini Kumar Nanda urged the public to recognise the biases in the COVID narrative as the difference between facts and factoids diminished. Stating that a tremendous fall in the GDP and agricultural and industrial production, export challenges, unemployment, health problems, etc., have been some of the economic impacts of COVID, Prof. Nanda asserted that India made a strong comeback due to its resilience.