These four individuals and organizations throughout different sectors of Indian society are stepping up to #DoingTheRightThing in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic
Individual: Barkha Dutt
When COVID-19 started spreading around India in mid-March, Barkha Dutt and her four-person team were called to act and investigate the emerging crisis. Over the last 86 days, the journalist and author has been on the road, travelling to ten different states across India to cover the impacts of the nationwide lockdown and the humanitarian
crisis of stranded migrant workers. Dutt’s on-ground reports, posted on Twitter and her independent YouTube news outlet, Mojo Story, called attention to the widespread struggles of low-income and migrant workers at a time when the subject was getting little coverage on mainstream media sources. With her commitment to fighting for truth and equity, Dutt has demonstrated the power of grassroots level media and reporting during this pandemic.
Private Sector: Dunzo
Bangalore-based local-delivery startup, Dunzo, has taken the logistical challenges posed by the nationwide lockdown and worked to turn them into an opportunity to support their communities. The technology company typically provides a wide range of delivery services including prepared food and groceries, pet supplies and interpersonal package delivery. However, after the first weeks of lockdown, Dunzo chose to focus solely on the delivery of essential groceries and medicines. Narrowing this scope ensured that they could provide families with the essential products that they required all while keeping them safely at home. Also extremely important during this time has been the safety and wellbeing of their delivery partners. In addition to providing all partners with personal protective equipment, Dunzo employees pooled a portion of their salaries to include in a crowdsourced fund for delivery partners’ financial support.
Social Sector: GOONJ
Indian disaster-relief NGO, GOONJ, has taken the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to leverage existing expertise while also expanding into new areas of aid. As part of their #RahatCOVID19 campaign, GOONJ has been working in 12 states across the expanse of India to provide prepared food through community kitchens and ration kits to low-income and migrant workers. Utilizing their existing network of volunteers and contributors in the area of textile-repurposing, GOONJ has also moved towards the production of protective face masks and sanitary cloth pads to distribute throughout their partner communities. And in the aftermath of the devastating Cyclone Amphan that hit Eastern India, GOONJ has worked to provide immediate food and maintenance relief while ensuring the health and welfare of all affected.
Public Sector: Indian Railways
At the start of the nationwide lockdown at the end of March, Indian Railways faced its first complete shutdown in the national railway system’s 167-year history. However, Indian Railways quickly found another way to help during this time. Given the large number of empty, out of use train cars that were sitting idle in stations throughout the country, Indian Railways devised a plan to convert these cars into quarantine wards for possible COVID-19 patients. By turning coach beds into patient beds and parking the cars in areas where this is access to power and a pantry, Indian Railways was able to significantly increase India’s capacity for isolation wards. More recently, Indian Railways Shramik Special train service has also begun to provide subsidized transport for stranded migrant workers to reach their home villages.
Written By: Utsav Vijendra