Looking at human history, we have witnessed repeating tragic events where countless lives were destroyed by natural disasters, famines, war, etc. These are the harsh realities that point at the fragility of human existence. Only social responsibility will help flatten the COVID-19 curve and give hope to people facing natural catastrophes like the Amphan cyclone and other similar occurrences.
The isolation, lockdown, and suppressed economic activity are hurting families across the world. The situation is adversely affecting the most marginalized and disadvantaged children and communities. Families in rural India and urban slums are struggling to get food, basic hygiene products, clean water and health care.
Apart from keeping its employees safe, India Inc. is pitching and helping the country and citizens fight the pandemic. Some are making masks and sanitisers, while some are contributing funds and distributing food and other essentials. Even people living in various residential societies are collecting dry food items from within their respective societies and distributing in nearby slums.
Ketul Acharya, COO, Learnet Skills Ltd., said, “As part of our social responsibility, we are striving to help the communities around our offices and projects across India. Protective face masks have become the symbol of being ‘Corona safe’ and a basic necessity for everyone to survive. Considering the need of the hour, Learnet Institute of Skills stand on the frontlines to support local administrations during this pandemic.
We are also imparting the required skills and techniques to produce high-quality masks. This effort has enabled them to earn a livelihood, as envisaged by Aatma Nirbhar Bharat mission by Indian Government. We have produced more than 40,000 masks and distributed them to healthcare workers, police, local hospitals and communities members.”
He added, “We are also proud to share that some of our Learnet Skills trainees in the healthcare sector who were trained under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) are working in the COVID affected areas and serving people in need.”
Talking about the role of a social development organisation amid such turbulent times, Sudarshan Suchi, Secretary-General, SOS Children’s Villages of India said, “This is the time to show consolidated efforts to address the scale of COVID 19 and fight it together. We have been working to protect abandoned children and support vulnerable families around our villages. SOS India works with families and communities to help them build their capacities so that children are well cared for, and families stay together.”
Suchi further said, “Ironically, it took a pandemic like COVID-19 to bring a sharp focus on the importance of social policies to protect the most vulnerable individuals and families. In these pressing moments, it is the time to support each other for the well-being of all the individuals. This extraordinary time has showcased how inclusive interventions could eventually help strengthen the societies and nations, which SOS India has always been focusing upon.”
Many small and big companies have united to help citizens and migrants combat the virus, which is gradually spreading across the country. A few social developmental organisations are helping in a massive way.
Hemkunt Foundation, an NGO, which has served over 2,50,000 meals during the lockdown period, so far, continues with its social duty, driven by the mission ‘Sarbat da bhala: blessings for all.’ The NGO handed out over 45 tonnes of fruits and vegetables to urban poor people to celebrate Ramadan as they needed to follow the tradition of breaking Roza.
It claims to have distributed over 10,000 litres of milk to pregnant women, young children, old and differently-abled people in the past one month and collected and circulated over 8,50,000 chapatis to people living in slums in the last 40 days, in Delhi and Gurgaon.
The Civil Defense and Gurgaon administration directed Hemkunt Foundation to feed over 12000 migrant workers, including women and children at Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Gurgaon where they were provided shelter by the Gurgaon administration till now. The Hemkunt team also served ORS drinks and biscuits to thousands of migrant workers waiting outside to go back to their hometown.
Talking about the migrants’ situation during the current crisis, Irinder Singh Ahluwalia, Chairman, Hemkunt Foundation, said, “The current exodus of urban poor migrants is a failure of governance and insensitivity of decades in ignoring needs of poor in modern India. It has exposed the preparedness of bureaucracy in crises like this pandemic, lack of protocols among various stakeholders and lack of public-funded healthcare infrastructure in place.
As far as migrants walking barefoot to their destinations is concerned, there were three options with the states. To begin with, they could have continued the interstate bus services and trains for 15 days since day one of lockdown. Alternatively, they could have arranged basic food and hygiene supplies for the vulnerable communities wherever they were/are irrespective of whatever documents they have.
Finally, and most importantly, they could have had made preparations to conduct as many tests possible to segregate infected people. Central and state government took many steps. However, failed to fulfill the bare minimum needs for urban poor migrants.”
Social Empowerment And Economic Development Society (SEEDS), a not for profit organization is working towards alleviating the distress in rural areas by providing immediate food, giving out masks for their safety and sanitation while also taking steps for economic restoration for these vulnerable communities.
“In addition to the distribution of dry ration and hygiene kits to more than 470 families, we are creating awareness and educating on maintaining hygiene and sanitation through school students and youth groups. Alumni of SEEDS Self Employed Tailoring trainings and Women production unit in SEEDS have stitched more than 20000 masks which were distributed to frontline workers, community members as well as other government departments” said, Suresh Ghattamaneni, CEO, SEEDS.
Further, he added, “We have been working on mapping “Essential Rural Services” and “Skilled and Unskilled labor” in the project area to implement wage employment and Entrepreneurship initiatives for youth. As a long term measure, we have developed “One Hectare Model” of Intensive Integrated Farming which helps local youth to be farm entrepreneurs boosting the local economy promoting sustainable development models to deal with migration.”
Different NGOs are working in different capacities. However, all are facing diminishing fund problems and appealing to individual and corporates for donations.