Speaker: Mr. Ravi Sharma, The Chetna, Mr. Ravi Pokharna, India Co-Win Action Network & Mr. Anurag Dikshit, Caring Indians
Facilitator: Vrinda Aggarwal, Journalist
Compiled by: Sudhanshu Shekhar
Date: 5th May 2020
COVID 19 has impacted our country as well as people living abroad. The pandemic has altered the economical, physical, social as well as spiritual structures worldwide. The impact of the virus is so immense that not a single individual has been spared of its effect. However, during this time of crisis a lot of foundations as well as organizations have come forward to help the people in need. Prabhajyoti Foundation, Caring Indians as well as I-CAN are some of the organizations.
The founder of Prabhajyoti Foundation talked about his organization and the initiative Chetna. Talking in the same line of thought, Mr. Ravi said that the initiative called Chetna is nothing but the philosophy that there is only one problem in the world that can solve all the other problems. The problem is that goodness is shrinking. People are becoming more and more conscious towards success but at the same time we all also realise that we need goodness to be happy. However, unfortunately we have created a society where primarily we appreciate success and 97% of people do what they get appreciated for. Since goodness is not much appreciated as much as success, goodness is shrinking. So the mission of Chetna is spreading goodness. We try and discover those who have chosen goodness as their way of life. We recognize them through various means by putting them on social media, but more importantly we give them assurance and a promise that we will support them lifelong emotionally, morally and financially. The only return we ask from them is that they will create 5 people like them in the next 5 years. This scheme is spreading and that is our way of spreading goodness.
Talking about the mission Chetna during the pandemic, Mr. Ravi said that the main problem that COVID has created is for migrant workers and daily wage laborers whether it is transportation or food. So, through Chetna we find people and discover and then we call them real life heroes and we have given them a name called Chetna heroes. So, through Chetna heroes we are reaching different parts of India through Kashmir to Bihar and for more than a month, we have been taking care of 15000 to 20000 meals. This distribution is happening in the front parts. Chetna is also taking care of animals primarily dogs and cows and on an everyday basis we feed more than 1000 animals. In terms of transportation, one of our heroes takes care of transportation of those who need to go to their villages and places in emergency cases. For this, we coordinate with the local authorities, the government.
Mr. Ravi Pokharna threw light on the I-CAN initiative. India Co-Win Action Network started on 24th March as an initiative by Connecting Dreams Foundation and Prabodhini. These two organizations are working for the people in need already. The initiative started as a portal to join help seekers with help givers. Within a few weeks, the initiative got the voluntary power and the volunteers together and could also align them. Presently, there are 3000 volunteers actively working and on ground around 3500 NGOs have registered with it. Everyday around 500 to 600 needs get registered on the portal which is cowinactionnetwork.in and around 400 to 500 needs also get fulfilled. These people are helped by coordinators and volunteers who are working from home.
The Prabhajyoti Foundation through its initiative Chetna is giving around 15000 to 20000 meals everyday through Chetna real heroes. These heroes fulfil basic needs of the societies in need. However, all of it follows a process. Giving an insight into the same, Mr. Sharma said that there are two mediums. In Rural areas, we get to know from word of mouth that in which area people are facing problems. However, in cities one good thing has happened which is that all the distribution in the city has to be done with the coordination of the government authorities, basically the police department. When our volunteers go there to distribute, it becomes very troublesome without the police authority because we can distribute but the people who are taking, there is a lot of probability that they don’t follow social distancing. So specially in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, in these three places in Delhi NCR it has been quite nicely established and has been implemented. So basically all the organizations who want to donate food and other things, they go with the help of the police. Due to the support of the police, we also get to know which areas need food and rations.
Secondly, our Chetna heroes are not distributing food for the first time, there are some of them who are doing it everyday so they also have their own contacts. They themselves know what kind of problems can come in which areas and their numbers and our numbers are distributed with a lot of people. So the people call and then tell us about the problems and also through social media a lot of people know about us. Sometimes there are areas where Chetna heroes cannot go so with the help of other organizations we donate and help. This is a mixture of different models and specially in India it is difficult to say that we follow only one model. We have to take information from different places and then help those people. We also help those people who are not able to get e-coupons of food. The Delhi government has said that you can take e-coupons if you do not have food. There are also some people who are not able to take food, so we go and help them to make sure that we reach out to the people who need it.
We have aggregated 90000 NGOs in India as in there are a lot of NGOs. However, still it feels that there is a gap between beneficiaries and government and non governmental organizations. Government is working and NGOs are also working but still it is like that some sections of the society are left. Everyone says that there are a lot of NGOs in our country but still there are so many poor people and people are dying of hunger everyday. Analysing this issue, Mr. Sharma pointed out certain reasons. First reason is that all those 92000 NGOs in India are not active,only some are active. There are some of them which are inactive. Their motives are different and there are some NGOs who work on grants. Secondly, the main issue is planning. We all knew that the problem was coming but still we lacked in this area and is also one of the major issues seen in our country.
The third problem has a mental direction to it. In India as well as in South Asia, there is a big gap between what we say and what we do. Everyone wants to look good in the drawing room conversations that we have everyday but the very next day they forget it and neither do they want to do it.
The pandemic has also brought with it a stigma towards those people who have the virus or are involved in this process. Talking about the same, Mr. Pokharna said that this could be because the media is highlighting those few percent of people who had coronavirus. If someone is infected from the virus, the people of that society start boycotting that person. However, through mental conversations we can solve this and I-CAN Conversations is one such medium. We also started I-CAN wellness in which we help people through close Facebook webinars. These people are getting extremely happy with the kind of counselling they are getting. This is also helping people understand the paranoia being created.
he third panelist Mr Anurag also threw some light on his new initiative Caring Indians. Speaking in the same line of thought he said that there were talks about the Wuhan virus spreading in India. We looked at stories in Italy and the USA and on the scarcity of ventilators and medical equipment. So, we thought of filling this gap for India and that’s how the idea was conceived. We basically get volunteers from different technical expertise creating open source designs which can be quarantine devices, monitoring devices, ventilators or medical equipment. So we took this concept to people and we got a lot of volunteers. We also got a lot of designs which have already been completed and they have also been exposed to competition. It was phenomenal and I was also surprised seeing the talents and the designs.
In conclusion, all of the speakers told the ways in which people could contribute to their initiatives and furthermore suggested people to stay safe as well as calm during this pandemic.
Key highlights of the Session:
- A foundation named Prabhajyoti has been working for the betterment of the poor through one of its projects Chetna. In this Chetna Heroes are the drivers of change and these are the people who have on their own level worked for the poor people. These people then become a part of the project Chetna and become the drivers of change.
- Another foundation named Caring Indians has been co-founded by Mr. Anurag. It aims to provide India with the digital equipment it needs during this pandemic. It has a team of digital people, engineers working on the same.
- There has been a stigma attached to the disease of Corona virus and people have a prejudiced attitude towards them. It can be removed through mental wellness and sessions.
- Even though there are around 92,000 NGOs in India not all of them are very active and carefully planned. Only some of them work actively.
- Due to the help of the governmental agencies such as the government, NGOs are able to feed the poor with all safety precautions. The help of the local police is needed to serve the needy.