Hindustan Times (East UP)

In distress, civil society steps in


As India battles the most devastatin­g public health crisis it has ever seen, and systemic failures are apparent all around, there is one silver lining — the role of civil society in aiding citizens. Civil society here is not just the convention­ally understood structure of establishe­d profession­al organisati­ons or neighbourh­ood civic bodies. A more loose, spontaneou­s, conglomera­tion of disparate citizens is playing an equally critical role in helping fellow citizens.

During the first wave of Covid-19, many such citizens and groups came together to support the returning migrants. This year, too, they are doing a lot of the heavy lifting — from sharing informatio­n about hospital beds and medicines to amplifying the needs of patients and their families on social media. Society, samaaj, is leveraging its power to help neighbours, friends, and extended families. A lot of this is restricted to people with access to social media, but it has still been of great help.

While informatio­n on beds, medicines and oxygen is critical, what is equally important for patients and their families is to know that there is a community out there that cares, and the battle against Covid-19 will not be a lonely one. But civil society, in any form, doesn’t have the scale and the reach of the State. It is imperative that the government aids this Herculean effort by providing correct and timely informatio­n to society and meeting the scarcity and shortages across the country.

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