Pandemics are not new to this world. They have a long history. Communicable diseases existed during human beings hunter gatherer days but when man shifted to agarian life, it paved way for human settlements. Human beings started to live together. This made the occurrence of epidemics possible. Malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, influenza and small pox are first to appeared during this period. With the passage of time the Human settlements grow in size and density. Pandemics took toll of millions of people across the nations. . Pandemics like plague, Measles, flu, HIV/AIDS, SARS shook the bedrocks of the nations.
Covid 19 was declared pandemic by WHO on March 11, 2020. The infection is caused by a novel Corona virus. The symptoms include fever, cough and can lead to pneumonia, breathlessness and death, if not treated. The second wave of Covid 19 is proving deadly in India. By the end of 2020, people in our country resumed their work after a long lockdown of first wave. But when the second wave knocked the door, the nation was in deep slumber and unprepared. Due to recession of family income and loss of life people are in grave emotional trauma. Unemployment, price hike and job loss is breaking the backbone of the common people. The closure of educational institutions put our children in stress and at loss. Disadvantageous students are at the receiving end. Marginalised sections including women are facing tuff time. Civil society has a role to participate, cooperate in government’s response to mitigate the crises.
During these crises government is working hard to ease the sufferings of the people. But the situation on ground tell different story and demand more efforts to mitigate the crises. Here comes the role of the civil society. The civil society includes NGO’s, religious organizations, Mohalla and masjid committees, trusts, Baitulmaals, clergymen and individuals. The only positive outcome of more than three decade long turmoil in Kashmir is an effective network of civil society organisations at every level. Most of these organisations are doing tremendous job during turmoil . Now they are sincerely working hard day and night during pandemic crisis. Their role in mitigating the affects of pandemic cannot be denied. Needless to mention that these organisations offer assistance to every eligible irrespective of his/her affiliations and status in the society.
During the pandemic crisis, the government mobilises additional resources to mitigate the crisis of pandemic. There emerges every chance of corruption and diversion of these additional resources. Civil society has a role to ensure that these funds meant to tackle the pandemic, should reach to their destinations. Civil society should press for adopting digital payment system to ensure transparency. During the distribution of resources, to avoid doubling, overlapping and left out cases, a digital common platform of all civil society organisations is appreciable. Civil society organisations can aptly communicate accurate information to the people. They can also help in mass awareness and countering the rumours to avoid panic.
During the lockdown the daily wagers and labourers are the most affected. These people play vital part in keeping the societies run smoothly. Widows, orphans and the poorest of poor needs to take care. Civil society has a role to identify them and offer assistance to them to ease their sufferings. Religious organizations have an important role to play. These common people donate their hard earnings to religious trusts and shrines. Now this is the proper time to offer them their return. People should not feel alone and marginalised. Timely assistance in the form of food, cash, medicine and life saving oxygen should be offered to the affected families by these organisations and should not wait for written applications from the sufferers. Media has also an important role during these crisis. They can offer their slots and spaces for communication and fund raising at minimal rates. By mobilising civil society groups government can ensure that the voice of the vulnerable sections is not silenced. Civil society can also help in Countering the trouble creators and rumour mongers. Some social organisations have developed big platforms on social media. These platforms can be aptly utilised for awareness, communication and fund raising. Mapping of different Civil society groups at district, block and lower levels can ensure effective response without loopholes. This will also ensure equitable distribution of resources for mitigation of crises.
As a responsible member of the society we all need to contribute in the form of time, money, expertise and other available resources to assist the government in mitigating the pandemic crisis. The present crisis taught us to empower our local baitul maals and make them financially sound, so that at the time of crisis they can contribute in minimizing the people’s suffering. We should donate to these local and trusted organisations. It will enable us to claim assistance during emergencies.
(The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)