Are you Distributing Death in the Shape of Relief?

reliefBy M Burhanuddin Qasmi

Let’s speak a little plain and sharp. Sometimes we intent good but outcome looks ugly. This generally happens when we do not plan better or act merely on emotions.

In this tough and painful hours when national lockdown is clamped over whole of India without required preparation. Millions of people are stuck in between and are in need of various means.

Offering relief and assisting the needy is important. Similarly important is to save yourself, your family members and make the lockdown successful. The lockdown should have come a week ago, however, it is not too late and there was no way out other than this.

The issue is to shun gathering of all sorts. Physical contacts and coming together of one human to other human is the prime source of spread for Corona Virus. When people are not allowed to perform even Juma prayer or any puja and worship at any religious place due to maintaining the required social distance, this must have been the sole reason to understand how important it is to be safe and remain at home, then how come relief distribution without proper sanitization and maintaining even the least distance can be a good thing to do?

The present pandemic is not at all like a flood, earthquake or any other natural calamity that we met in the past; rather it is an unprecedented crisis which we never experienced ever in the past and people need to understand it.

You might be looking good that you are risking your health to help others in need and your intention might be pure but it doesn’t end here. May be you are already infected and you are distributing deaths to the needy instead of life! Or someone from among those whom you are reaching, touching and coming in contact while in this relief work – be it while packing, marketing or distributing, is already under virus attack, and from him or her you are bringing the death to your own home which will affect you and all in your contacts. You of course do not know, are you actually safe or the one just near you is safe from this deadly virus! No body knows when will the symptoms begin to hunt you!

Please do not rush for anything. You may spoil whole purpose of the lockdown because of lack of your seriousness or emotional run to virtuous deed. Only trained teams under experts’ supervision with due government permission must carryout any out-of-home public services at this very serious time. For India it is more important today to reduce mass outbreak of the disease than to distribute common relief goods among public.

Central government as well as some state governments – West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi and even Assam have taken minimum initiatives to protect people from hunger. We need to appreciate these initiatives and observe outmost patience for the time being. Our sole objective must be to assist the government to make this lockdown maximum successful, because here is our key to collective life in India.

We may see, some of our fellow citizens are suffering, some others are genuinely in pain and screaming, which is but obvious, because no one except the Almighty Creator can address all issues at a time and make everyone equally happy or remove their pains at the same time, when one is under unparalleled crisis situation – that too a worldwide and a Natural one. We need to think wisely that we cannot put ten people in the death bed to save one life. Better decision maker save maximum only at tough times.

Hunger will not generally cause death soon in this present condition when our system is under alert mood or it may cause a few deaths in worst scenario but remember, if the Corona Virus is spread in the community due to our silly mistakes then it may cause hundreds of death in a day for days, weeks or months.

Let’s be wise and make smart moves. Those who are doing relief work are generally not taking required precautions. We see some people are distributing bananas and biscuits on streets for passer-bys, drivers and some others are offering food but the recipients are in long queues, touching each other and even in mass without required distance. This coming together itself is dangerous for both who is offering the services and who is receiving them.

On the other hand, some others are seen shamelessly photographing, creating video clips and even live streaming over facebook and you tube about their petty humanitarian services without taking care of the basic human dignity of the ones in the receiving ends. As if this is an opportunity for them to showcase their so-called charity on camera. Better charity work is when even your beneficiary doesn’t recognize you.

The way Delhi government is distributing food on streets is not at all adequate for social distance and required COVID-19 precautions. Similarly the way some police forces in different states, as seen in multiple video footages, are behaving and coming in close contact with public is not humane nor professional. These policemen are risking their health, life of their loved one as well as the health of whole of India. In their overwhelming excitement to impose the lockdown-order some of them are actually causing harm to the very mission of this painful national lockdown.

How come a police person inhumanly beat a poor vegetable vendor when he is allowed to remain open under essential commodity exception? Why the police should indiscriminately beat all, evenly elderly people and women who are walking to their homes with pain and grief? Why some of our police men on streets are seen extremely brutal towards public and beat them without listening when a citizen might be out for genuine reason? The police must understand that these poor people, some of whom decided to walk more than hundred miles with small kids and women, have no way out, are human beings too and the very citizens of this country. You shouldn’t have a license to make your own people crawl on roads, degrade their dignity and film it to shame them and their family permanently.

Too many extremes are coming regularly from all sides. We need to create balance in all fronts. We need to ensure that lockdown is maintained but humanity should not die again and again in our streets. We need to ensure that nobody in our neighbourhood should suffer because of lack of food or water as long as we have means to assist.

But remember! Put on the safety mask over your mouth before you go to help your child. The health workers, police force and the relief workers, all need to protect themselves to remain protecting others.


The author is Director of Markazul Ma’arif Education and Research Center and Editor of Eastern Crescent, Mumbai

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