Calamity and pandemics bring out the best (and worst) in people. The Corona outbreak has been a real test for mankind, especially for the millennial generation who haven’t seen such a pandemic that brings discomfort to their otherwise colourful lives. India, a nation of 1.3 billion people has responded positively and proactively to contain this pandemic, thanks to the efforts of the PM Modi led Central Government.
I had come to my hometown of Mysore in the second week of March and have been stuck here ever since. Just about a few days ago, two volunteers came to our house to ask about the wellbeing of my grandparents, both aged over 70 and who knew these volunteers. They stood at the gate and enquired if my grandparents are in need of any essentials, food, medicines, etc. and assured their help, should we need anything.
When they were about to leave, I asked the volunteers if they came on behalf of any organisation, to which they replied that they were volunteers working with the office of the local BLP MLA, Shri S A Ramadas. I got curious and asked if they have been doing so in the entire Mysore district. They said there are over 1,150 volunteers who are reaching out to the needy and personally attending their distress calls during this crisis.
I tried reaching the MLA himself and to my surprise, he picked up the phone call and spoke with me. Later, I spoke to many volunteers and also MLA Ramadas, on what measures they are taking to help the people of Mysore, during this crisis. Their answers pleasantly surprised me.
They said that they have provided up to 1,46,500 meals during the lockdown, on a daily average of 7000 meals, most of which are for daily wage workers and their families. Many of these families are those who have migrated from neighbouring states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in search of employment in Mysore and have been stuck here ever since the Corona Outbreak.
11 volunteers are involved in cooking these meals every day and utmost care is taken for their hygiene. From wearing masks and gloves, to maintaining social distancing, these 11 volunteers cooking meals for 7000 people daily are under strict observation of the best doctors in Mysore so that there is no possibility of them getting affected by the virus. Even the family members of these 11 volunteers are under strict lockdown, just so that any untoward incident can be prevented.
The volunteers have been delivering 1800 ration kits on a daily basis. 819 volunteers across 273 booths in Mysore have been involved in delivering these ration kits to the poor and underprivileged. 24 teams have been formed for packing these kits.
The most interesting initiative taken by MLA Ramadas, is a helpline number that has been set up and every day at 6 PM, the MLA himself sits live, on his social media handles and speaks to those who call for help. On an average, 4,830 calls are being answered by his team on daily. A separate team has been formed to make sure that those who call for help are provided relief within 24 hours. A team of close to 50 volunteers are attending to messages received through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, making optimal use of social media to help those in need.
In case of any medical emergency, 44 Ambulance services have been started and close to 140 patients with serious ailments, who are unable to travel for check-ups due to the lockdown, are being taken care of my a dedicated team of medical professionals set up by the MLA. A mobile pathology lab has also been started for the needy. For all those quarantined, 5 isolation centres have been supported by the MLA’s office.
People across India have raised concerns about animals and their well-being during lockdown, in this regard, I was glad to know from the MLA himself, that a team of over a dozen volunteers are feeding the strays in the district. In addition to this, his office is providing free fodder to livestock owners during these challenging times. Farmer distress calls are addressed at priority basis by the MLA’s team.
At a time when essentials are scarce, there is always a threat of black marketing. In Mysore as well, the MLA’s office received many calls complaining of the same. Shri Ramadas personally took up the matter and cases have been filed against 27 operators who were indulging in such activities.
These are trying times for the world, we have never been confronted with an enemy that threatens all of humanity. And in such testing times, it becomes the solemn responsibility of the elected class to respond to the faith reposed in them by those who voted them to power. What I saw in Mysore through MLA Ramadas’ team of dedicated volunteers, who are risking their all in these times, is that India as nation will pull through, we will defeat this virus and that good efforts of elected representatives like Shri Ramadas will be remembered as an example of exemplary selfless service for years to come.
(This article was authored by Ajay Kashyap)