CORONA AND CIVIL SOCIETY
Updated: Jun 9
Not in the wildest dreams would anybody have thought of something dystopian like this creeping in 2020. The plot of the “Contagion’’ has become real from the reel. The emergence of monstrous SARs derived COVID19 from Wuhan has brought the entire world to halt affecting each and every sector. Masks, isolation, quarantine, and lockdowns are the new keywords that have taken the front row in the entire globe. And our beloved landlocked state “Sikkim” is also not left far behind amidst the fear of spread of such a pandemic.
Until now, the foresightedness of the state government, commitment of the frontline warriors and cooperation of the citizens has resulted in keeping the state covid free. However, the combined pressure of keeping the state covid free whilst bringing back our stranded brothers and sisters from afar seems to be currently acting like a “double edged sword” for the government. In this regard, may be Civil Society can act as a bridge to establish and develop trust between the government and its people making sure that the final result is inclined towards a win-win situation. The state definitely has the ingredients to form a strong civil society in the form of various non-governmental organizations [NGOs], labor unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations etc.
The role of a civil society amidst such crisis is indispensable. With this pandemic comes plight of the economies of specially the poor and marginalized sectors, leaving them mentally depressed and deprived. In this regard, civil society members can be the “Counsel” and provide them with all the rehabilitation measures in coordination with the government authorities whilst also ensuring equitable distribution of commodities and relief materials. With regard to the Education sector, civil society members could be” Mentor” to provide/teach through online methods. It is highly possible that due to the lack of facilities, students do not get access to online materials which could lead to frustrations andschool dropouts. In this case, the civil society members could act like “Guard/Watchman “ and keep engaging the students by organizing closed door educational events following social distancing norms.
With regard to the Health sector, the civil society can aid the government in ensuring smooth operations of quarantine centers, supplying PPEs to the frontline warriors, arranging vehicles for medical emergencies and ensuring general safety of the medical personnel. Due to exodus of migrant workers, vacuum for employment will be generated; civil society should stand as “Moral Booster” to be voice for locals to take up the replacement roles. When it comes to critical situations like mass religious gatherings/processions, the civil society members can step up and educate the people about social distancing whilst keeping their religious sentiments intact. Moreover, they can also organize special talent events which can drive some much needed innovations. In this regard, this essay competition by the Sikkim Milk Union is a welcoming one.
In the words of Martin Luther king Jr. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter”. Thus, the civil society could be that strong voice raising things that does matter "currently whilst also binding the government and the public. In a way, they leave a strong message for everyone that #WEAREINTHISTOGETHER!