It was in January last week Indians began to know about Coronavirus outbreak. Although the news of Coronavirus outbreak in China’s Wuhan city was in the public domain since December 2019, the rest of the world, including India, did not take strict measures like imposing lockdown till things became worst in countries like Spain and Italy. The increase in the number of deaths and infected in countries like Spain, Italy and the United States of America set the alarm bells ringing and the world realized that what they thought to be a health hazard concerning China was a pandemic capable enough to bring the entire world to a halt. As far as India is concerned the first positive case of Coronavirus was found in the state of Kerala, a student who had come for his vacation from Wuhan University. As the numbers started increasing the government was deliberating on the idea of a pan India lockdown & ultimately when the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of Coronavirus as a pandemic. India too was left with no choice but to call for a complete shutdown from 24th March 2020.
For the current generation who had read about epidemics, wars and its negative effects in books and movies, the lockdown was a new experience. However, Indians stood united and supported the government’s decision of lockdown for breaking the chain of the Coronavirus spread. While developed and powerful countries like Spain, Italy and the USA were all in deep Coronavirus crisis, India managed to slow down the spread of Coronavirus by announcing the timely lockdown.
During this period the real challenge for the government and the civil society was to ensure that no poor should suffer from hunger and disease. Besides this, another challenge was to control rumours, which were travelling thick & fast, causing panic amongst people and would have defeated the purpose of the lockdown. India’s unorganized sector was definitely going to be badly hit by the lockdown & Maharashtra is one such state which has the highest number of migrant labours. While we are safe in our homes with ration, vegetables, milk, and all the food items being easily available and we have the luxury of TV, mobile and our boring days are passing by eventually. But at some distance from our home, there are some houses where the stove is not burning. How will these families who earn daily income fill their stomach when there is no employment? What would such families eat? How would such families get their basic needs? Hence providing them with food was & still a top priority.
Since India is a vast country with a large population, help from the government reaching every doorstep within a stipulated time frame is difficult. Though rich people are willing to contribute to society in the form of money, food and medical services, it requires huge manpower to ensure that this help reaches out to the needy. Social distancing & staying indoor are ways to remain safe from coming in contact with the Coronavirus. Hence the role of NGOs & self-help groups came into play. Time and again RSS, the world’s largest socio-cultural organization, has played an important role in serving humanity at the time of any crisis that was faced by our nation. To face such crisis presence of mind and discipline is very important. But there were few concerns for elderly and sick people like in the midst of the lockdown with no transportation facility how will they go to the hospitals for their routine checkups or for medical emergencies? To tackle this crisis on the very first day of the lockdown the Mumbai division of RSS Jankalyan Samiti came up with the idea of providing free transport facilities to needy citizens and for their routine checkups, scheduled visits & medical emergencies. A number of citizens also volunteered to offer driving services with their own vehicles to ferry the patients.
During these pandemic times, poor families are the ones to be affected the most, and to help them with food and other necessary supplies RSS’s volunteers have been on the ground. Many billionaires like Tata and Ambani are giving funds and other help to the citizens of the country. Good-hearted TV celebrities and film producers also started contributing to the country. One such name is film producer Manish Mundra who not only provided medical health kits but also donated money to several small NGO’s. He also inspired Indian’s by repeating the slogan “let’s do more” on social media. Soon the social media was turned into an NGO and many started tagging each other for helping needy. Never witnessed such a competing approach ever before to send help to the needy. RSS as an organization stood tall by coordinating with government officers and ensured that suffering of Poor is reduced maximum during the lockdown period.
While maintaining social distance is key to be safe, RSS volunteers jumped into the war risking their own life. In any battle, a bulletproof jacket is provided to soldiers to save their respective lives while fighting the enemy. In the same way, all the Coronavirus warriors are fighting Coronavirus risking their life with all the required precautions and protections. As on April 24, 2020, RSS has served us with the help of 300, 809 volunteers.
While Central and State governments were doing its best by announcing packages and its implementation, RSS deployed lakhs of its cadres to serve the poor and needy in the time of lockdown. Imagine the difference it would have made with such a humungous strength of selfless cadres working for any other country other than India (over and above the government strength). This shows the character of a Nation to fight back on any given situation. RSS along with the nation is fighting an invisible enemy. We are lucky that we got our Lakshmana in RSS who has the courage to fight an invisible enemy. Even in such difficult circumstances, the volunteers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) without caring for their lives have come forward once again for the sake of service to the country and society. The volunteer is also the son of a mother, or husband of someone or he can be some sister’s brother. But, history tells that whenever there is any calamity on the nation – then the RSS and its volunteers surrendered themselves to the service of the nation. May this nation be victorious by defeating the crisis.
(This article has been written by Mr Vipin Menon. He is an Entrepreneur. Currently working as an HR Consultant for IT firms. He is a Social Media Enthusiast and TV Panelist)