How Should Government And Society Fight The Pandemic Together?

by Javaid Ahmad Najar

We have enough stock of facemasks, hand sanitisers right now. What we need at this crucial juncture and what we lack this time is the dearth of oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, oximeters and machines.

Municipal workers fumigate disinfectants in the area housing the Chest Disease Hospital that was recently converted into a special Covid-19 Hospital. The picture was taken minutes after one patient died on March 26, 2020. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

The world has been under threat of a deadly virus, which passed a year, hit the nations including India badly. The research conducted by SBI has revealed that “India should not be complacent as it will reach the peak of second-wave as this could lead to a widespread increase in infection as has happened in the current wave”.

Nowadays India surpassed 4 lakh cases per day. History has taught us that the second stage of the disease every time had been witnessed worst than the first one. If the second stage was not dealt with properly, the third one hit the nations more extensively. So everybody has to take its role serious:

The Administration: The administration includes national or central level, state or UT level, Divisional level, district level and block level officers who have the power to look and take measures for the control of virus-like to announce strict lockdown, to impose Section 144 of IPC for major gatherings, to control crowds and to ensure that lockdown is imposed on the ground in letter and spirit. Police play a major role in this domain.

But the loophole here lies in the survival of the labour class, which is getting most affected during the pandemic lockdowns. The administration has also to think over it. Thus, a bilateral problem has to be dealt with proper sense, to impose lockdown and to deal with the labour class.

Here imply the Direct Benefit Scheme (DBT) schemes throughout the nation. The government of India (GoI) launched the DBT programme on January 1, 2013, to directly transfer the benefits to the under-privileged population covered under 34 central schemes.

This way is fruitful to contain the virus amidst strict lockdown and will be a source of survival for the labour class, which becomes the victim during these pandemics. Since it is obvious that the developmental works get affected, the budget proposed for it should not get lapse and at the same time could be used for DBT Schemes so that civilians won’t bother about their livelihood and consequently will prefer to stay indoors and follows the SOPs of lockdown in letter and spirit.

Imposing lockdown without taking issues of labour class into consideration is meaningless and a threat to the nation because India ranks 94th among 107 countries in terms of hunger, and continues to be in the severe hunger category according to the Global Hunger Index 2020. According to the study, 14% of India’s population is undernourished.

The Civil Society

Civil society here means Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), trusts, societies, Anjumns, Auqafs, traders, transporters, religious associations, Imams and community heads. The role of NGO is known to everyone – to uplift the worst off a section of our society and utilizing all kinds of sources for the betterment of below poverty class.

If the DBT scheme collapses, NGOs have to gear up, starting feeding to the people who don’t have a one-time meal. Keeping SOPs in view, these organizations must pause their other projects and start fundraising if not able to come on feeding ground and start to tie up with the administration like District Administration Baramulla implemented last year pandemic during the distribution of food packages by several NGOs in the whole district without any supersede.

We have enough stock of facemasks, hand sanitisers right now. What we need at this crucial juncture and what we lack this time is the dearth of oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, oximeters and machines. The patient can avail of these facilities in hospitals but not at home.

Javaid Ahmad Najar

COVID patients in home isolation need these machines very much in this crucial stage when saturation of a patient dips abruptly and creates havoc for the whole community. Being an associate of KARVAN (an amalgamation of 150 Baitul Maals and of few NGOs operational in Srinagar), we used to get a number of calls for oxygen concentrators and oxygen cylinders from the home isolated patients suffering from COVID disease but seriously speaking we are unable to give nod to everyone due to the lack of these vital machines. Other associations must gear up for providing oxygen stock to those in need. Imams and religious clerics and associations are bound to mobilize the followers and believers for Do’s and Dont’s in this pandemic in the light of Islamic teachings and for their strict adherence. Likewise, other stakeholders should announce strict instructions to their subordinates so that no more casualties could be seen, people dying by the dreadful disease. Hopefully, this too shall pass conditioning we remain vigilant.

(The author, a masters in Social Work from the University of Kashmir is currently working as Field Officer at Project Management Unit (PMU) of All India Institute of Local Self Government (AIILSG) Srinagar, a PAN India Organization (NGO) working across India. This organization is working as Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) for Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) for which I am working as Field Officer. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)

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