Response to Covid19

Response to Covid19

Dear Friends,

I am writing this brief note of gratitude and appreciation for your trust, support and encouragement of our work at the school, especially of the Response to Covid-19 initiative as we come to the mark of 250 in delivering the dry ration(s) as part of our planned target of 250 families. I also would like to clarify that each family (in our assessment) implies an average of four members for a family. This means that our initiative has benefitted 1000 persons (250 families) and we look forward to moving on before 30th June, 2020 which means that by the end of this month we would have reached more than 1000 individuals (250 families).

Our assessment and verification system is of high integrity with the identification and recommendation made by the teachers, headmaster/headmistress of the Government schools located in the villages, community leaders and government officials at the local area. In the last three months (since March this year), we have been able to identify and distribute to needy and deserving people such as bonded labourers, daily wage workers, auto drivers, unemployed persons, single mothers, widows, physically challenged, tribal people, and families without ration cards. We have been actively working in the hills and border areas of Vellore and Thiruvannamalai districts of Tamil Nadu besides our focus of the Kanyambadi panchayat in Vellore District of Tamil Nadu.

We have had the joy meeting a young mother, who has delivered girl baby only two weeks ago, as she stepped out first time out of her humble home in a village near Kannamangalam in Thiruvannamalai district. We also came across a few handicapped persons (mostly due to early childhood polio) for whom there should be a more humane and consistent support systems to be undertaken by the government in consultation with the local authorities and health volunteers.

I also would like to apologise and regret for the delay in sending this report to you on time than being delayed by two weeks. Though we have been active and working in the ground, we have not been able to put ourselves together in gathering large number of pictures and narratives along the way. We have been in the field for over ninety days now. Recent period has also thrown up a bit of confusion with the lockdown and subsequent revival of lockdown as well as the opening of liquor shops causing concerns about the pandemic spread. The overall dismay due to increasing cases of Corona Virus confirmation in Tamil Nadu and at large in India is also written large. I am not sure in a case situation like Chennai whether we are already under the spell of community spread and equally worrying is the movement of people without trace and spread of virus in other cities towns and villages in Tamil Nadu.

We are faced with a real challenge besides the mixed messages from the actions of the government . Since mid-March and unto this day, I have always regretted the failure of the governments in taking the civil society as a companion in addressing the crisis. We all could have risen collectively to face the challenge instead of facing the television channels for updates and hearing upheavals. There is another view that in a country like India the corona will take an expected toll due to poor hygiene and noncompliance factors despite the high individual immunity and social determination. We must be open and acknowledge the gap in our approach.

Our policy orientation, decision-making and implementation are highly centralized and power centric. Sanitary and health workers, medical professionals and police have been doing a remarkable job and in the process several hundreds of them have also been exposed to the virus and therefore rested. While public spaces and circumstances arising from large gatherings of people (Koyambedu market and bus stations) implying the consequential impact upon the desperate masses. We need a more serious, meticulous and decentralized approach to food, market access and transport policies. As we are in deep struggle against the virus spread in big cities and we are also in the middle of virus transfer/movement from big cities to small towns and villages, we need more compassion, understanding, vigilance and decentralized tracking of movements of people from one place to another.

This is not to present a grey and gloomy picture of the Covid-19 situation in Tamil Nadu and at large in the country. But we must reflect on our strengths and shortcomings as we are faced with the relentless struggle between the spread and containment of the corona virus itself. We also deeply aware and remain grateful that scientists, governments, medical and pharmaceutical professionals are working untiringly throughout the world for a cure and without exception of corporate(s) who want to make most of it.

I wish to thank you once again for the trust, support and kindness.

Kind regards!
Ramu Manivannan

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