COVID-19 Volunteers — Ad Hoc Organisers Teach the Government a Lesson in Planning.

Image from World Economic Forum

A sharp rise in the novel Coronavirus cases during its purported “second wave” in the country had brutal implications that caused entire systems to collapse. The scenes and cries from hospitals across all the states collectively, were heartbreaking to say the least. Health-workers went beyond the call of duty and worked tirelessly day in and day out to stabilise the situation. Hospitals ran out of beds and space to accommodate patients and there was severe shortage of oxygen and necessary medicines simply due to the sheer number of cases that were increasing with each day. The months of April and May, which saw the greatest hike in cases since the pandemic began globally, will be ones that will be etched into the memory of citizens forever.

The question that was on everyone’s minds was what the government had done for the past year and half that could not prevent the tsunami that was the second wave. How did the government not apprehend this? How were we so ill-prepared knowing that a second wave was inevitable? Where did all the money that was collected for the PM-Cares fund that was supposed to be allocated for fighting the virus, ultimately go? A million questions, but unfortunately no answers. Prior to the advent of the second wave, the Minister of Health declared that India was at the “endgame” of the pandemic. Despite repeated warnings from healthcare experts explaining the impending second wave, a new virus strain, and the emergency situation that can be created in the event that both occur, no heed was paid and the government continued giving the impression that India had successfully defeated the virus. Moreover, despite the repeated warnings, religious festivals were allowed to be organised and political rallies continued as normal. These garnered massive crowds and were conspicuous for their complete disregard for Covid-19 protocols. To add to this, India’s vaccination plan completely fell apart.

At a time of a public health emergency and crisis, when the public are supposed to turn to their government for help, instead they turned to each other. Clearly, no steps were taken and the government was severely ill-prepared for the emergency. The citizens as such, took it upon themselves to mitigate the crisis and help the country through what was perhaps one of the toughest periods witnessed in the recent past. The power of social media was harnessed as millions of people took to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to crowdsource medical supplies and oxygen. Volunteers drew up state-wise lists of availability of beds in hospitals, medical supplies, and oxygen cylinders in medicine shops etc. which were then circulated. This immensely helped citizens procure necessities and save their loved ones. At a time when the state abdicated all responsibility and essentially left it upon the citizens to save themselves, thousands of social media accounts became a critical lifeline as they cropped up with the sole purpose of connecting users to medical resources and aid those affected by the virus. Not only virtual, multiple NGOs and organisations across the country also began relief work by providing meals to Covid patients and coordinating medical supplies. Despite threats from the government, relief work volunteers continued helping selflessly — all the while exposing the grave complacency on the part of the government and the incompetent system that created the crisis in the first place.

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Vismay Awal

Vismay Awal

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