Leveraging cultural and volunteer organizations in Pandemic times

2021 is a changed world, I’m sure for good. I truly believe 2020, having been the year of pandemic, has also got us the opportunity of enjoying the smaller aspects of life which actually play a key role in a person’s life. For many, behavioral change, physical change and for some, change in the way we look at people, nature and much more. Yes, pandemic took away precious lives of loved ones but it also gave a hard lesson of life too.

Likewise, countries around the world have faced behavioral change and their attitude towards countries struggling to cope up with the virus - sometimes by bullying poor countries to agree to their few greedy terms.

Under circumstances, India stood out as a clear role model and a friend to look up to other than Bullies. India is recognized by the world countries not only in containing the Wuhan (Corona) Pandemic among 1 billion of its own population but also in tapping its resources for the betterment of the world through mass supply of Vaccines to countries whichever approached India for help. In this regard forgoing selfish interests and working for the good of humanity is something many so called superpowers have utterly failed to do, Instead started bullying them to take advantage of the situation. Time and again India has played the role of Robinhood by standing up to the Bullies and extended its helping hand to many world countries.



Hitopadesha ( an Indian text in the Sanskrit language consisting of fables with both animal and human characters from 12th century ) tell us a beautiful Shloka:


ayam nijah paroveti ganana laghuchetasam

udaracharitanam tu vasudhaiva kutumbhakam’ |


Which basically translates into:


This is my own and that a stranger’ – is the calculation of the narrow-minded

For the magnanimous-hearts however, the entire earth is but a family,


Considering others as our own, other’s pain as that of ours and stretching a helping hand to anyone in need, without any distinction of color, race, sex etc., has been the core value of Hindus philosophy.


Number of people evacuated by India till March 2020 (Source: http://www.ndma.gov.in)


The Indian Response can be divided into three overlapping phases.


Phase1: controlling the borders to limit infections related to international travel


On January 20, 2020 Xi Jinping of China made a public statement on the enormity of the virus and its impact on its people. This rang a bell in the corridors of Government of India. I believe given the serious situation any government would have planned in protecting its citizens abroad. The present government which is often hammered baselessly by the western media and far left leaning-so called liberal media outlets, put down a plan to immediately evacuate its citizens facing hardships back in China and around the world.

[SW1]To make it consistent with other months written in the rest of the article. The world was now reeling under the deadly impact of Covid-19 virus. It took months for WHO (World Health Organization) to declare the situation as “pandemic”: to be specific, in its March 11th, 2020presser, “We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.” By then, according to WHO, there were more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives – outside of China. Probably, only God knows the details of that country.


Phase 2: Contain the spread of disease within the country through primary and secondary contacts of travelers (second and third week of March)

Within no time, the first lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the spread of Virus. 1.3 billion People were asked to stay home and not to venture out. The lockdown lasted for over 2 months. All modes of travel, national and international, were stopped with immediate effect. Meanwhile essentials were made available, people stayed put in homes, people were working from home and sadly many even lost their jobs. Economy was on a stand still. Housemaids, daily wage workers, people working in restaurants lost their jobs within a matter of weeks. Let alone parties and functions, people were not allowed to go out or gather outside. “Possibly” never in the history of the world did 1.3 billion people stay put inside – for good reasons.


Phase 3: Nationwide lockdown to contain local/ community transmission (25th March – 31st May)

By April 2020, the world had plunged into chaos and firing all its engines to get a grip of the situation. US FDA approved hydroxychloroquine was said to give results in fighting against the Corona virus. India being the world’s largest producer of hydroxychloroquine, shipped the required tablets to 55 countries around the globe. Most of the shipments were not charged to countries. A commercial transaction was done with those countries who could afford. At the same time, PPE kits, masks and testing instruments were also being manufactured at a light’s speed to meet the internal demand and more importantly to counter the cheap quality products shipped from China.


Strategy followed in Phase 1 ( source: http://www.ndma.gov.in )


As things got better after the lockdown, PPE kits, ventilators and masks were now being exported to other countries and also provided as grants.


Role played by Voluntary, Cultural Organizations


Here too many good souls started helping people in need. World’s largest not for profit, civil society organization, Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) and many other Hindu Organizations, along with its volunteers, did not wait for a call from any one. With due permission from the government, volunteers started helping the poor and needy. This was done not only in India but worldwide. Wherever there was a Sangh Swayamsewak (volunteer), help was at the door step of the needy.


The government as well, rolled out plans to help its citizens by providing rations and money (transferred directly in their accounts). One cannot possibly describe the harmony and Aatmiyata (feeling of belonging to one family) displayed in the Indian Society even at these challenging times.


Phase 4: Vaccine Mass production hub and its outreach: Government accelerated the vaccine program and eventually started mass producing it. Thus world’s largest vaccination program started in India. Not only this, India started supplying its vaccine to countries that are in need of it. During every step of fighting the pandemic the community service and volunteer organizations played its part augmenting the efforts of governmental agencies in containing the Pandemic.


Author: Deepak Desai


Disclaimer: The information in this article is sourced from different sources. The opinions, beliefs and views expressed by the author and forum participants on this website are personal and do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and views of SatyaWahr.



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