By Prof. Avinash Singh
Life and death have reached a crossroads. While the Sikhs major tenet of selfless service (sewa) for the needy of all creed can well be seen all around, other religious bodies are not lacking in kindness and love for humanity either. And, that is the brighter side to look at in these bleaker times.
Delhi had plenty of them, so was the case in big cities in rest of the country, where several NGOs and other bodies flung into community service and put up a great effort in helping the breathless India with oxygen cylinders, arranging for ICU beds and ventilators. Providing medicines that went off the racks in most chemist shops when Conoravirus was wreaking havoc, ravaging the country - another stark reminder for us to be united.
They all got excessive share of media glare. Perhaps, some got it more than they were deserving of. Strangely, others oiled the self-propelled social media machinery, at a time when COVID crisis was its worst and the pandemic deaths were peaking.
However, a dedicated bunch of people are tirelessly working at several places almost simultaneously, extending helping hand silently, bringing in survival means such as food, dry ration, medicines and oxygen in border regions of Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and upper reaches of Himachal Pradesh and also trying hard to reach out to the relatively poorer states of India viz. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and the nomadic artists struggling for food in Rajasthan's interior and toughest terrain.
In Punjab, one can speak for some of these difficult forward belts of Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Batala and Gurdaspur. One such group is the diocese of Amritsar. Their caring actions are all pervasive.
The diocesan COVID-19 relief project named 'Love in Action' is reaching out with emergency deliveries of dry ration, cooked food, protective gear and critical care medications and mental health (trauma) facilities. The 'Diocesan Relief Project' (DRF) has delivered more than 4000 dry ration kits, 30,000 packets of cooked meals, 15,000 masks, 700 PPE kits to health workers in the frontline of the pandemic.
Institutions under Diocese of Amritsar (DoA) also undertook charitable programs in association with the state and local governments. Several diocesan guest houses, schools and other institutions were given for quarantine purpose.
The DoA has equipped its COVID care units in all the three states coming under its purview. It has an intensive program running in identifying COVID cases, providing support, building awareness and mobilising vaccinations.
The most Revd Bishop of DoA, Dr P.K Samantaroy, when contacted, rather than taking any credit, said the volunteers worked at all the centres as committed units as a community of God.
The DoA has a dedicated a 24/7 helpline number to ensure timely and quick remediation of various medical and essential services. Availabilities are verified regularly before people are referred to The senior functionaries Revd Marcus Masih +91 7888863195 and Mr Shakti Mal +91 -80548-65343) are for public.
An effort such as this to serve the helpless, stranded, suffering, elderly and destitute is certainly worthy of praise and must be emulated by other states' bodies for serving people undergoing an unimaginable hardship.
(Prof. Avinash Singh is a former Special Correspondent, Hindustan Times. He recently superannuated as COO and Pro-Vice Chancellor of University of Technology and Management, Shillong having served as Director General with IMR, Ghaziabad and LESDEP Foundation, Director ASCO, Amity University, Noida, Professor of Mass Communication and Dean Students, at Regional Campus of Guru Nanak Dev University).