Rajya Sabha parliamentarian and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vinay Sahasrabuddhe has announced the formation of a new online platform to connect ‘help-seekers’ and ‘help-givers’, amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that has affected businesses and labour market across the board. Sahasrabuddhe, also the vice-president of Mumbai-based Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini Foundation, said that the new initiative, I-CAN (India COVID Action Network), was being launched by his outfit, in partnership with New Delhi-based Connecting Dreams Foundation.

“This is basically a bridge between help-givers and help-seekers,” said the Rajya Sabha MP. “When we find ourselves in the midst of a challenge, there are many issues cropping up. Some of the people are in need of tuition fees… some require financial assistance…” he explained.

Dr Amit Tuteja, the founder of the Connecting Dreams Foundation, explained that http://cowinactionnetwork.in, the website launched under the I-CAN initiative, enlists the help of Google Maps to track “help-seekers” and connects them to “help-givers.”

Tuteja noted that the platform had been successful in resolving issues at the grassroots level in several cases since it was launched.

On March 29, a factory owner in Noida highlighted how 650 migrant workers, hungry for 24 hours, were in desperate need of help as they crossed Noida on foot. The platform found a donor, based in Austria, who gave Rs 30,000 to a caterer in New Delhi’s Janakpuri neighbourhood. The caterer, in turn, organised food for the workers, who were then fed with support from Delhi Police.

“The need was addressed within a few hours,” said Dr Tuteja.

The Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini Foundation was instituted under the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Niti Aayog to support and nurture entrepreneurs in India, while the Connecting Dreams Foundation is a New Delhi-based non-profit working towards providing opportunities to the youth, with the underlying aim to bring about a measurable change by working along the lines of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as spelled out by the United Nations.

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