Some scenes in life would shower a rain of joy on hearts. That is what is proffered by the good Samarians who have been lending hands of help and succour during the Covid times. Words cannot convey the praise and appreciation for the health workers who forget about their lives while extending laudable service. And naturally, the community to its last person does recognise this and give a heartfelt salute for their commendable dedication. But there are other philanthropic souls too all over the world who are determined that the sea of mercy cannot end with those in the frontlilne. It is not only world famous movie stars, sports celebrities and voluntary organisations, but those upto the little collectives in small villages have been displaying noble models of care for the fellow being. While some lend support to health research and disease treatment, some others volunteer to help those left isolated in life in these times. The world in general is coming to terms with the reality that government machinery alone will not suffice to save humanity from the dreaded Covid virus.
In a situation when prophetic brains and planning experts are being forced to correct their projections on a daily basis, there is a lockdown on even the serious contemplations about rebuilding the world post-Covid. Only after the Covid virus is reined in, can serious deliberations about the socio-economic conditions of a post-Covid world be made. But that is not the case of the people who may get trapped in deep poverty in the scourge of Covid and they need immediate attention. The Centre and state governments have by now declared packages aimed at ensuring that people do not starve. The Centre's attempt through the Rs 1.7 Lac cr package is to provide food security for 80 crore people. The additional monthly relief of Rs 500 for 20 crore women is equally laudable. In Kerala, the government decided on Thursday itself to provide ration card holders numbering 87.14 lac, with free rice and provisions to prevent starvation. And the state government's attempt to set up collective kitchens in local bodies and deliver food to those in hardship, is sure to give solace to destitute families who may be thrown into hunger due to loss of jobs. It is indeed praiseworthy that in facing Covid-19, Kerala and its government are one step ahead of the Centre.
In such situations, some scenes of life would pain our hearts, and make us wonder whether even in these times of tragedy, the springs of humanity have dried up in man. One such is a heart-rending picture of people flocking from Delhi to villages in Uttar Pradesh on foot due to poverty. Forced to shut their shops, and denied anything to eat for days on end, and with no help in sight, they were forced to leave their residences for home. They had only one answer for any question: they could not survive by eating soil and stone, and could not more stay starving. In a country with 80 crore categorised as poor, if it is not ensured that the special pakages of governments are not implemented effectively, there will be stories of starvation deaths more dreadful than that by Covid. This is not about having huge reserves of food grains in the country, but about delivering it to the homes of the needy in such times of need. Only when the stocks meet people's hunger will they be of any use. The same governmental attention accorded to preventive measures against the pandemic, should be given to food distribution too.
As much as hunger, the welfare of those stricken by privations of many sorts also demands attention. A lockdown lasting 21 days is no small challenge. Three weeks of halted activity will upend the lives of individuals, with major jolt of differing digrees on the daily lives of people. The majority are people looking at the spectre of job losses, though they are silent for now since everything has come to a halt. Their hearts and minds are hot and explosive. But for many, the concept of a family that offers an asylum, is a fallacy; for them home is not the last word of solace. And then there are those who, despite having a house, do not find shelter there , as also those for whom home is a torture centre; all such groups are in search of solace. Even as personal visits are strictly being restricted, voluntary bodies cannot sit idle. It is incumbent not only on the governments to ensure the wiping out of hunger and to be a source of support for distraught minds. This Covid period should make us, even when forced to be physically distanced, capable of writing new chapters of brotherhood and fellowship through means of constant invisible contacts.