Can the COVID 19 crisis make us Kinder?

We are in midst of the corona virus lockdown. We can make it lighter and say self – quarantine but in essence it’s a lockdown.

It began showing up in China in January 2020 and now in May 2020, the entire world has been afflicted by it. One of Bill Gates’ Ted talks has been doing the rounds- where he says that the next disaster that will strike us will be a virus. It has been doing the rounds, but only after COVID 19 became a household discussion.

Too late.

Let’s move home to India. The last few weeks have shown us crazy images on the news. Migrant workers have been walking home 100s of kilometres because they have no source of income and no place to stay in the urban areas. They have been evicted because they are daily wage earners and can’t afford the rent any more. They are walking home, hungry, tired and will possibly die by the time they reach their villages. It is only now the Government has started looking into their plight. In a nation of 135 crores, 14 crores are internal migrants and work outside of their native villages and towns. Tired workers resting on train tracks were killed in their sleep when a train ran over them.

2 months into the lockdown, India is taking note now. Today the World Bank approved a package of USD 1 Billion package for India’s urban poor and migrant population. I couldn’t find the statistics on how many have died on the way back home.

Too Little. Too late.

I speak of all this from privilege and because I have a laptop and an internet connection. I can apply for curfew passes online, upload my documents sitting in the comfort of my home. It’s not too hot today, so the Air Conditioner is off. Most of the people that I know, none of whom are migrants or been paralysed by the lockdown, are battling their own versions of scarcity. None though have to worry about the next meal and shelter.

That said, there is something that you can do.

  1. When you go for the next grocery run, don’t bargain till your jaw hurts. The vegetable vendor wakes up at 3am to get his supply of vegetables, pushing his cart across the city to get to you. On good days and when there’s fresh stock, he has good veggies. On other days, he does not. You see that Mother Dairy next to you, grab some cold lassis or chaas and give it to him.
  2. Your security guards, who are manning the society gates and check the temperature of every person passing through- give them a kilo of mangoes or some ice cream.
  3. Your house help, call them up to find out if they are doing alright. Instead of sending over money by paytm, pick up your car and go give them some rations and groceries and some items that the kids could use- cakes, biscuits, chocolates.

You are wrong to think that this is charity. We probably will never be able to match the service that they are doing for us. And if you too are suffering, then it is best to pray to whichever higher power you believe in and pray for this time to end soon.

The only redeeming quality that you can take away from this phase is that of kindness. If you are reading this, don’t grudge somebody an extra 500 bucks. It won’t make you poor, it will buy them 10 kilos of flour.

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