Shruti Pushkarna: Is Coronavirus also inflicting some life lessons at us?

23 Apr,2020

Shruti PushkarnaBy Shruti Pushkarna

 

It’s been a month since the Indian government announced the official lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19. People’s daily conversations now include casual mentions of a pre- and a post-corona world. We are slowly becoming accustomed to a ‘new normal’. It seems that nature has hit the ‘pause’ button on all our plans.

 

I’m reminded of my grandfather’s favourite phrase, “Man proposes, God disposes”. Never have those words rung so loud in my ears.

 

Negative sentiments are on the rise, as every news item seems to bring us closer to doomsday. Of course with the exception of promising research and recovering numbers.

 

It’s a good idea to take a break from the tragic reality enveloping us 24×7. In fact some media platforms are going out of their way to cull out positive stories and courageous, inspiring accounts.

 

It might sound strange but coronavirus is not all bad news. In the past few weeks, we’ve witnessed unified action, individual contributions and immense perseverance to fight a crisis, collectively.

 

In the non-profit sector, we’ve seen organisations and individuals come together to ease the challenges faced by vulnerable communities. People are stepping out of their committed areas of work, some even outside of their comfort zones, venturing into unchartered territory. All to help resolve immediate challenges of those trapped in different parts of the country.

 

This is also a ‘coronavirus effect’, but one which is heartwarming. Chasing government representatives and influential individuals, groups of NGOs are working tirelessly towards ensuring that essentials are delivered to the poor, old, disabled, and the desolate.

 

In Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai and several other cities, volunteer groups are running services for those in need. Individuals from the non-profit sector might have set these up, but people across the board have pitched in. These include delivery services for ration, medicines, other essentials, taxi services for the disabled and so on.

 

As in the past times of crises, several people have stepped forward to donate. Messages are being circulated in the media as well, asking for help both in cash and kind.

 

What’s amazing in the current scenario is that people across the country are also volunteering their time to help another. This should give us hope.

 

For several people who might be feeling trapped in their homes, this is an opportunity to devote time and effort to government and non-government agencies in addressing the needs of every citizen.

 

As part of the work at the NGO I am associated with, recently we put out a message, seeking volunteers to handle calls from disabled people in states where our helpline is not active. The response was immediate and impressive. Without even a clear understanding of the work expected, individuals were willing to offer support. We were flooded with calls and emails from people eager to contribute in any form.

 

In a country like India where resources are scarce, it becomes pertinent to channelise them to areas and people with a greater need. And human chains of communication work well with identifying the ground level requirements and prioritising services to those sections or communities.

 

So far, I’d say that the NGO model of collaboration is not only working well for those benefiting from it, but indirectly inspiring thousands of others to join hands to contribute outside their proximate environment.

 

Once the lockdown eases up and we get sucked back into our daily routines, the memory of these past months will fade away. However, the lessons we learn from these ‘hard times’ will stay with us forever.

 

A lot of us are already talking about things we would do differently post-corona, or things we won’t forget from this experience et cetera, but how about each one of us identifies and holds on to at least one such thing. Almost like a New Year resolution, except this might be termed a ‘New World’ resolution.

 

Well my biggest takeaway is what seems overwhelming individually, is easily handled communally.

 

So what’s your Covid-19 learning?

 

Shruti Pushkarna is a former journalist (part of the founding team of MxMIndia) who has now moved full-time to the social sector. She heads operations of the New Delhi-based Score Foundation where she works as Director-Programmes & Communications. She writes for MxMIndia every other Thursday. Her views here are personal. She can be reached via Twitter at @shrutipushkarna

 

 

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